According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in four American girls and one in 13 American boys will fall victim to sexual abuse or exploitation before they reach their 18th birthday. Many of these cases involve the use of the internet and electronic communication devices such as:
- Cell phones
- Network servers
- Social media accounts
- Dating and messaging apps
- Internet chat rooms
- Online gaming platforms
The CDC estimates that one in seven children in the country today will be solicited online for sex.
Enticement of a child by electronic communication involves an adult contacting a child under 16 for the purpose of transmitting sexually explicit language, audio, or images, or to solicit them to engage in sexual activity or other indecent, lewd, or lascivious behavior. An electronic communication device is defined as anything that transmits the written word, sounds, photos, videos, or data of any nature to another device.
Electronic enticement has become the most common type of child solicitation in recent years due to the widespread availability of internet communication and access to electronics by children and adolescents. 95% of youth between ages 12-17 report that they have an online presence, including participation on social media.
What Is Child Enticement With an Electronic Communication Device?
Also known as electronic solicitation or online solicitation of a minor, Nebraska Statute § 28-833 considers an individual guilty of this charge when he or she is over the age of 19 and knowingly and intentionally utilized an electronic communication device to contact a child under 16 or an undercover law enforcement agent they believed to be a child less than 16 in order to do any of the following:
- Transmit indecent, lewd, lascivious or obscene language, writing or sounds
- Transmit or otherwise disseminate any visual depiction of sexually explicit materials, such as the distribution of pornography
- Offer or solicit any indecent, lewd, or lascivious act, including asking for or sending nude photos or arranging a time to meet in person with the purpose of engaging in sexual activity
There is no statute of limitations for solicitation of a child in Nebraska, so charges could be brought many years after the alleged criminal activity took place. Even when direct physical contact with the victim does not occur, charges for online solicitation can be brought against an adult who engaged in sexually explicit conversation with a minor or an undercover law enforcement agent pretending to be a minor as part of a sting operation via an electronic communication device.
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Accused of Child Enticement With an Electronic Device?
Nebraska, like most states, has laws prohibiting adults from engaging in electronic solicitation to groom children with the purpose of meeting up with them for sex or to exploit them in a sexual manner. If you’ve been accused of online solicitation of a minor, the stakes are high, including potential prison sentences, sex offender registration, and hefty fines.
You require the services of the criminal defense lawyers at Berry Law. They stand ready to represent clients across the state of Nebraska, with offices in Lincoln, Omaha, and Seward. The team at Berry Law will fight to maintain your freedom and restore your reputation in the community by mounting an aggressive defense against the charges you face.
Their attorneys have experience defending clients against online solicitation charges in both Nebraska state courts and in federal court. Do not delay in reaching out to an experienced criminal defense attorney.
What Are the Penalties for Enticement by Electronic Device?
For a first offense, enticement by electronic communication device is a Class IV felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. If convicted, a person facing these charges is often required to register as a sex offender for 25 or more years.
Enticement of a child using an electronic device and related charges can be prosecuted at both the state and federal level. The act of enticing a minor with the intention of engaging in sexual relations violates state statutes, but it’s the use of the federal mail system, which includes any facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce, such as the internet, that is a federal crime.
For example, federal charges may be leveraged against an individual accused of human trafficking or child sex trafficking for the purpose of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting a minor for commercial sex.
The use of the internet to profit off of the sexual exploitation of minors is a federal crime that has led to federal wire fraud charges in cases where a defendant was selling and distributing child pornography.
Why Am I Facing Several Charges in Addition to Enticement?
Enticement by use of an electronic device usually goes hand-in-hand with other allegations of sexual misconduct. According to Nebraska state law, individuals under the age of 16 cannot give consent for sexual activity, even if they agree to participate.
A defendant who has sexual contact with a minor is guilty of sexual assault under state law and may be charged accordingly. This is true even if the child lied about his or her age. The adult can still face criminal charges because not knowing a victim’s age is not a defense in Nebraska.
Criminal Child Enticement Involing Solicitation
Criminal child enticement may be added to charges involving solicitation with an electronic device. The difference between these charges is that criminal child enticement involves a person who knowingly and without parental permission lures or attempts to lure a child younger than 14 years old into a vehicle or away from their legal guardians.
If a defendant is accused of making and following through on a plan to meet with an underage person during a conversation online, he or she could be charged with both online solicitation and criminal child enticement.
On first offense, criminal child enticement is a Class IIIA felony with:
- A maximum sentence of three years in prison
- 18 months post-release supervision
- A $10,000 fine
Charges are upped to a Class IIA felony when a defendant has previous child enticement, sexual assault, or child enticement by means of an electronic device convictions. The penalties are increasingly severe, including a maximum 20 year sentencing guideline.
Pimping, Pandering, and Prostitution
Other common charges that can accompany online solicitation include pimping, pandering, and prostitution. Nebraska law makes prostitution and the solicitation of prostitution a crime, including the solicitation of another person to perform sexual acts in exchange for money or something else of value.
The sexual exploitation of a child only has to involve an adult who allows, enforces, or forces a minor to solicit for or engage in prostitution, debauchery, public indecency, or pornography.
Depending on the relationship between the accused and the victim, a defendant could face sexual abuse charges along with online solicitation. This may be especially true in cases where the defendant was already known to the victim, such as a close family friend or family member, before the abuse began to occur.
Why Am I Being Charged With Online Solicitation of a Minor in Nebraska When I Don’t Live in the State?
Crimes that involve illicit electronic communication are deemed to have been committed in both the location from which the communication was sent, as well as where it was received. So, the state of Nebraska can charge someone with enticement or solicitation of a child using an electronic communication device even if they don’t live in the state.
A defendant in another state may be found guilty of child enticement if they were communicating with a minor living in Nebraska.
Since Douglas County is a border county in Nebraska, a person who solicits a child from across the state line in Iowa can face federal child solicitation charges because the crime occurred across state lines. Depending on the aggravating circumstances of a case, federal child enticement charges can carry sentences up to life in federal prison if convicted.
Do I Need a Sex Crimes Attorney if I’ve Been Falsely Accused?
Many people falsely believe that hiring an attorney suggests that they are guilty of a crime. However, accusations of sexual relationships with minors should be taken very seriously. Such accusations are aggressively investigated and prosecuted and severely punished by both state and federal authorities.
Once you’ve been accused of a sex crime, law enforcement and prosecutors will focus their efforts on obtaining a conviction rather than trying to clear an innocent person’s name. Unlike other criminal offenses, most electronic solicitation cases involving children don’t settle out of court.
You will need the assistance of an experienced sex crimes lawyer to navigate the court system and mitigate the damage to your reputation. In the digital news and social media age, even false allegations of sexual misconduct can destroy a person’s life and good name, regardless of whether the accused is later cleared of any wrongdoing.
A conviction, followed by mandatory lifelong registration as a sex offender, can limit the careers an individual is able to pursue and the locations where he and she can live, making it difficult to ever recover from the stigma of child enticement charges. Don’t let these allegations tarnish your reputation forever.
Contact the team at Berry Law to fight the charges you’re facing and help you restore personal relationships with family, friends, and the community in which you live.