What is Solicitation of a Minor?
In California, solicitation of a minor (a person 17 years old or younger) occurs when a person talks to a minor and asks or solicits the minor to meet up to engage in a sexual act. This sex crime is sometimes known as “meeting with a minor for lewd purposes.”
A person commits the crime of soliciting a minor in California when all the following happens:
The individual engages in a conversation with a minor
During that conversation, he/she asks the minor to meet in order to engage in sexual intercourse or some sexual activity
Simply asking a minor to participate in a sex act is the offense itself. Therefore, a person can still face criminal charges even if no sexual activity occurred or the defendant never meets the minor.
Additionally, an individual can be charged with solicitation for merely believing that the “victim” was a minor – even if the person was not underage.
What are the Criminal Penalties for Soliciting a Minor?
Solicitation of a minor is a felony in California. A conviction is punishable by imprisonment of four years or more and/or fines worth tens of thousands of dollars, as well as sex offender registration.
However, a person may face more prison time if one of the factors is true:
He/she used a computer, smartphone, tablet, or another electronic device to solicit a minor
He/she traveled to meet the minor
He/she made sexual contact with the minor
What are the Legal Defenses to Solicitation of a Minor?
To be convicted of solicitation of a minor in California, a person must have some type of sexual motivation to meet with a minor. Hence, if an individual does not meet a minor to have sex and has another non-sexual motivation, then he/she cannot be guilty of solicitation.
If a person did not know or think that the victim was a minor, he/she could challenge the solicitation charges. Lastly, entrapment is a common legal defense when an individual gets arrested during a sting operation, but the police officers involved engaged in overbearing official conduct (e.g., harassment, pressure, fraud, threats, or flattery).
If you have been accused of a sex crime in Santa Barbara, call Appel & Morse at (805) 467-6060 or complete our online contact form today for a free case evaluation. Our legal team consists of two former prosecutors with more than four decades of collective experience.