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The Criminal Defense Team has seen a big uptick in clients accused of sex crimes related to the internet. These cases are defendable in a variety of ways. For example, what proof does the prosecutor have that your computer, smartphone, or device was used by you or that you were aware of the potentially illegal item? This can get very tricky for the prosecutor. Perhaps we need to hire an expert witness to debunk the state’s case.

There are many ways to defend this type of accusation. If you are charged with a sex crime that somehow involves the internet, we have the legal expertise and experience to determine the best course of action and the best strategy to defend you while fighting for you and your reputation.

What Is an Internet Sex Crime?

“Internet sex crimes” is a broad phrase that can be used to describe a wide range of different crimes. Many online sexual offenses involve some type of possession or distribution of child pornography or harmful content, but internet sex crimes can also encompass different forms of online solicitation. While the phrase is broad, so too is the list of potential penalties associated with these types of crimes.

Since the majority of internet sex crimes involve minors in some way, prosecutors will aggressively pursue cases involving internet sex crimes. That is why it is important to immediately consult with an experienced internet sex crimes defense attorney if you have been charged with an offense. The penalties for internet sex crimes can be significant, and an individual could end up having to register as a sex offender, an act that can stigmatize a person and haunt them for years to come.   

Common Types of Internet Sex Crimes

If you have been charged with an internet sex crime, the first thing that you want to know is which specific crime you are being charged with. Each type of crime comes with its own individual set of circumstances and avenues that can be used to pursue a strategic defense plan. Some of the most common types of internet sex crimes in Indiana include:

Child Exploitation

Child exploitation is a crime that involves an individual knowingly creating or sharing a picture, video, or other images that depict sexual conduct by anyone under the age of 18 years old. This act is meant to satisfy or arouse sexual desires.

Possession of Child Pornography

Possession of child pornography, as defined by Indiana law, is when a person is found to have possession of sexually explicit content involving a minor under the age of 18 on an electronic device. This device may be a computer or a phone, and the material can be in the form of pictures or videos.

Sale or Distribution of Child Pornography

Possessing child pornography is one crime. However, selling or distributing sexually explicit content involving minors is another. 

Dissemination of Pornography to Minors

Dissemination is the spread or distribution of sexually explicit content. When this type of content is knowingly or intentionally spread to a minor through the internet or a cell phone, as in sexting, the act can be considered an internet sex crime.

Online Solicitation of a Minor

Soliciting is considered any form of coercion, command, request, or urging someone else to do something through electronic means either by phone, text, or using a computer network. The solicitation is typically sexual in nature and often occurs while trying to get a minor to meet in person with the individual doing the coercion. There are different levels of solicitation depending on the minor’s age and the age of the individual allegedly doing the soliciting. 

Penalties for Internet Sex Crimes

There are a wide variety of offenses that may open an individual up to potential internet sex crime charges. From sexting to distributing child pornography, the state of Indiana has an extensive legal framework to identify behaviors that fall under the definition of internet sex crimes.

Make no mistake, the state prosecutes these types of crimes extremely aggressively, especially in cases where children or minors are involved. The penalties for internet sex crimes range in severity but can include prison time, significant fines, and probation. Some of the more common internet sex crimes and their penalties include:

Child Exploitation

  • Level 5 felony
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Prison time from 1 to 6 years

Possession of Child Pornography

  • Level 6 felony
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Jail time from 6 months up to 2 ½ years in prison

Sale or Distribution of Child Pornography

  • Level 6 felony
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Jail time from 6 months up to 2 ½ years in prison

Dissemination of Pornography to Minors

  • Level 6 felony
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Jail time from 6 months up to 2 ½ years in prison

Online Solicitation of a Minor

Soliciting a minor under 14 years of age by a person 18 years of age or older using a computer network, and traveling to meet the minor

  • Level 4 felony
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Prison time from 2 to 12 years

Soliciting a minor between 14 and 16 years of age by a person 21 years of age or older using a computer network, and traveling to meet the minor

  • Level 4 felony
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Prison time from 2 to 12 years

Sexting by Minors

  • Class A misdemeanor
  • Fines up to $5,000
  • Jail time up to 1 year

Internet sex crimes can draw especially hard penalties, but beyond prison time and heavy fines, internet sex crimes involving children also carry the extra burden of stigmatization. Being labeled as an “internet sex offender” can be devastating, and the stigma of that title can last for years. It can be extremely detrimental to an individual’s reputation and irreparably hurt their professional and personal relationships.

In addition to the social repercussions of an internet sex crime conviction, an individual may also find that they have a difficult time securing a job, an apartment or home, and loans. They may be at risk of losing their professional or state license to practice in their chosen field and may even be at risk of losing their parental rights. A conviction can impact an individual’s life long after they have served their time and made legal amends. 

Sex Offender Registration

Another consequence of being convicted of a sex crime can be mandatory registration on Indiana’s sex offender registry. In 1994, the state passed what is now referred to as “Zachary’s Law.” The law was named for a 10-year-old Indiana boy who was molested and then murdered in 1993 by a neighbor. That neighbor had previously been convicted of child molestation. Zachary’s Law required convicted sex offenders to register with local law enforcement. While this law has been replaced and updated in recent years, the spirit of Indiana law remains the same. Those convicted of certain sexual offenses must provide their personal information to law enforcement and register with the state.

In Indiana, there are different types of sex offenders. The nature of a person’s offense will help determine how long they may be required to stay on the sex offender register. Those who commit violent sexual offenses are typically placed on the registry for life. Other types of offenders may only be required to remain on the list for ten years. If your conviction results in you being forced to register as a sex offender, here is what you can expect:

  • You must provide extremely detailed information about yourself to authorities, including your name, race, weight, height, hair and eye color, and all identifying marks like scars or tattoos. You must also provide your social security number, driver’s license number, a description of your vehicle, its license plate number, your current address, your employment information, an email address, all social media platform information, and your online usernames.
  • All changes to your personal information, including your address, place of work, school, or other identifying information, have to be reported to local law enforcement. This must happen within 72 hours of the change taking place.
  • Sex offenders are typically required to register in person with local law enforcement at least once every year.
  • You are required to register your main address as well as any other addresses where you spend a significant portion of your time. This includes any location where you spend more than seven nights in a 14-day period.
  • Registration takes place in the county where you reside. However, if you work, go to school, or do community service in a different county, you must also register in person with that specific county.
  • If you are planning a trip that will take longer than 7 days, you are required to inform local law enforcement. Depending on where you visit, you may also have to report to local law enforcement at your destination.
  • There are some convicted offenders that can be banned from going near or living close to areas where young people congregate, such as schools, public parks, and youth centers.  

Contact an Experienced Internet Sex Crimes Attorney Today

The stigma of being labeled an internet sex criminal can follow you for years, perhaps even the rest of your life. Your entire future could be in jeopardy, and that is why you need to turn to an experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney for help. Before you talk to anyone, talk to an attorney with The Criminal Defense Team.

At The Criminal Defense Team, we take the time to listen to you and thoroughly review the circumstances of your entire case. We will work with you to personalize a defense strategy that gives you the best opportunity for a favorable outcome for your situation. Being accused of a crime is not the same thing as being guilty of a crime. Let the team at The Criminal Defense Team protect your rights and fight for you. Contact us today at (317) 687-8326 for the defense you deserve.

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