In the world of Oklahoma Computer Sex Crimes, I see a significant number of charges titled Soliciting a Lewd Act, also known as Solicitation of a Minor or Lewd Solicitation of a Minor. These are the lewd proposal cases, and to a lessor extent the sexual communication with a minor charges.
There has been a huge uptick in the number of these cases coming out of the DA's office all across Oklahoma. Part of that increase is from the proliferation of smart phones, social media, communication apps, and these "anonymous communication platforms," where you supposedly can remain anonymous.
There simply are a lot more ways my clients can get charged and get in trouble these days, and the number of these ways a client can get charged increases with every new app or device that is produced.
The Solicitation of a Minor/Lewd Proposal to a Minor charge, is found under the Lewd Molestation Statute 21 O.S. 1123, and that is really where this lewd proposal to a minor exists in the law. Then charge comes through the computer sex crimes charges because most often it's a smart phone, cell phone, computer, or tablet that is used to communicate between the accused and the minor. Law enforcement, the prosecutors, and the Courts are looking for that actual “proposal” between the accused and the alleged victim. The Court is not just looking for sex talk, but did the client attempt to get the minor to go away to a private place for something that is sexual, or is the client trying to get the minor to engage in sexual intercourse or activity?
In the Lewd Proposal/Solicitation to a Minor charge, the child must be under the age of 16. A minor that 16 or 17 year-old is not covered under that statute, it is 15 and under. That's where the age is relevant.
Sexual communication with a minor by the use of technology, is the new flavor of the day for DA’s Offices across Oklahoma. The charge is very scary for my clients, and it is extremely difficult to defend. The charge is found in 21 OS section 1040.13A. This charge does not require the minor to be under 16 years of age. So, if you communicate with a minor, even someone that's 16 and 17 years old, by use of technology - and that's any and all technology, there's not going to be any exception to it, from cell phones to computers; if electricity runs through it and it can communicate, it's covered under the statute. If you communicate with a minor about something that's sexual, not trying to get the person necessarily to go have sex, but just use sexual words with them, something of a sexual/prurient interest, even if it's just asking questions about their sexual likes and dislikes, that is enough to get you charged under this statute. Communicating with 16 and 17 year olds about something sexual will get you charged.
It's perfectly legal for a 19, 20, 21, and even a 51-year-old to have sexual relations, sex, oral sex, touching, everything, with a 16 or 17 year-old. Perfectly legal. However, if the adult communicates about the upcoming sexual act or communicate about the act afterwards, that's a crime in Oklahoma. Sexual communication with a minor is a felony and requires registration as a sex offender, and it's level three lifetime registration. The charge itself carries up to 10 years in prison.
Lately, we have seen a number of cases where in the past we would have seen a lewd proposal to a minor charge come down from the DA’s office, they have instead filed the Sexual Communication with a Minor Charge. Most times this happens because the assigned ADA has determined they will have a problem with the “proposal” element of the crime of Lewd Molestation. Typically, the proposal element is one of the main elements that I would fight at the preliminary hearing or at jury trial. The issue of whether or not a proposal actually took place in the communication is fertile ground for me and that is losing ground a lot of times for the prosecution.
A better position, and a much easier position for them to occupy, is to go after my client with the sexual communication with a minor by use of a telecommunication device or tech device. That is much easier to prove, and it expands the range for which they can punish someone. The prosecution can now go after individuals that communicate with 16 and 17 year olds that are also engaged in perfectly legal sexual relationships with those individuals. But simply because they communicated about their legal sexual relationship their conduct is now criminal and a registrable offense for life.
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