Online solicitation of a minor laws found to infringe
Posted By Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Grass || 15-Apr-2015
While Texas state and federal criminal law statutes are largely intended to account for the rights of claimants, they are also required to uphold the constitutional rights of defendants as well. As a result, the legality of any guideline can be challenged for infringing upon the rights of civilians accused of committing criminal offenses. The online solicitation of a minor section of Chapter 33 of the Texas Penal Code was recently reconsidered by the state's highest criminal court and found to be unconstitutional, illustrating the complexities of defending sex crime cases.
According to the section of the state's Penal Code, anyone over the age of 17 who uses electronic platforms to communicate in a sexually explicit manner with a minor with the intent of arousing or gratifying sexual desire can be accused of online solicitation. Under the statute, online solicitation of a minor can include but is not limited to the distribution of sexually explicit material and/or sexually explicit communications.
Considering the language and scope of the statute, serious questions and concerns have been raised over the types of interactions and materials that can be considered sexually explicit. It-lex.org discusses the decision issued by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that the specific section of the state Penal Code is unconstitutional, and explains that the language of the section is too broad reaching and vague.
Given that the terms of the statute define "sexually explicit" as any material, language or communication that describes or relates to sexual conduct, the court ruled that the statute failed to narrowly serve the law or protect free speech. After all, it was noted that everything from popular television to literature to music to be considered sexually explicit under the language of the statute, and could potentially result in claims over the online solicitation of a minor.