The internet can be a strange place. Both impossibly vast and able to help people connect like never before, it’s also a minefield for the unwary. Most people don’t realize just how easy it is to end up charged with a sex crime due to their internet activities — especially when they haven’t even had any physical contact with another person.
Here are some of the ways people get into serious trouble online:
1. Selling, sharing, buying or transferring underage pornography
Generally speaking, if something is illegal in person, it’s probably also illegal online. That includes sharing, selling, buying or even just transferring sexual images of minors. While that may make intuitive sense to you, many teenagers don’t realize that they can be charged with a crime for sending sexually explicit photos of themselves to someone else until they are charged.
2. Viewing online pornography in public or sending unwanted sexual images
Since you’re an adult, you may think that you can generally enjoy pornography if you so choose — but there are limits. Accessing the internet in a library or business to look at pornography can be considered a type of sexual misconduct. So can sending unwanted and unsolicited sexual images to another person by email or text.
3. Using the internet to seduce or lure a minor into sexual conduct or acts
If you’re 21 years of age or older, using the internet to solicit sexual conduct from a minor or solicit sexual activity will quickly land you in hot water. In Missouri, that’s considered the enticement of a child — even if that “child” turns out to be a police officer just pretending to be a minor.
4. Advertising your sexual services online to others
Maybe you feel that you should have a right to sell your sexual favors if you want — but the law disagrees. Federal laws have increasingly clamped down on internet sex trafficking and you can be charged with a crime even if everyone involved was a willing adult.
If you’ve made a mistake and have been charged with an internet sex crime, it’s time to find out what you can do to protect your legal rights and preserve your future.