Solicitation of a Minor - Minnesota Felony Crime
With our world continuing to get more online, law enforcement is ramping up more creative efforts to combat the growing spread of solicitation of a minor crimes. There are two primary forms for the solicitation of a minor charges in Minnesota, both of which are felonies and carry significant criminal and collateral consequences. It is imperative to hire a solicitation of a minor defense attorney that knows the law well and how to investigate and navigate this complex area of law.
Solicitation of a Minor –
The first way to commit a solicitation of a minor crime in Minnesota is when an adult “solicits a child or someone the person reasonably believes is a child to engage in sexual conduct with intent to engage in sexual conduct.” Minn. Stat. 609.352 further defines “solicit” to mean “commanding, entreating, or attempting to persuade a specific person in person, by telephone, by letter, or by computerized or other electronic means.” If that definition is complicated enough, Minnesota courts have determined that the words in that definition have a particular meaning in this law.
“Entreat” is defined as to make an earnest request of. “Earnest” is defined as “marked by or showing deep sincerity or seriousness.” Regarding an attempt to persuade, an “attempt” is defined as an effort or try, and “persuade” means “to cause (someone) to do something by means of argument, reasoning, or entreaty.” Finally, “command” means “to direct with authority; give orders to.”
As you can see, the Courts are trying to capture a lot of forms of communication to fit the definition of solicit.
Electronic Solicitation of a Minor –
The most common form of solicitation of a minor occurs when there is some form of electronic communication involved. Under the same statute, electronic solicitation of a minor is defined as using “an electronic communications system, or a telecommunications, wire, or radio communications system, or other electronic device capable of electronic data storage or transmission . . . , with the intent to arouse the sexual desire of any person …. to solicit a child or someone the person reasonably believes is a child to engage in sexual conduct.” The same definitions of solicit as detailed above apply here.
Typically, we see the electronic solicitation of a minor occur in two circumstances: through undercover sting operations or the disclosure of such communications to law enforcement. The typical sting operation involves law enforcement posting an online advertisement on various websites known to be popular sites for arranging ‘meet-ups,’ if you will. Law enforcement will pose as a minor and engage in text message exchanges with the suspect. Those text messages will then be used to bring criminal charges for the electronic solicitation of a minor charges, even if the suspect never follows through with the messages. Meaning, while most cases involve arresting the suspect when he or she shows up the pre-arranged location, it is not necessary that the suspect to go to the location in order for the State to bring these charges. It is important to understand that the fact that the ‘minor’ is actually a cop (and therefore not a minor) is not a defense.
The second common way for the electronic solicitation of a minor charge to come up is when inappropriate communications with a minor (a real one) is discovered and then disclosed to law enforcement. This is often seen when the parents of the minor discover them and then provide them to the local police. From there, the police may go undercover, posing as the minor, to collect further evidence, or they may bring the charges based upon the electronic communications they already have.
Finally, it is important to know that, for any of these forms of charges, mistake as to the minor’s age is not a defense.
Solicitation of a Minor Penalties –
By statute, the maximum criminal penalty for these offenses is 3 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. Beyond those consequences, though, the defendant will have to register as a sex offender, likely complete sex offender treatment/programming, have their internet usage monitored or restricted, and lose their civil rights to vote and bear arms.
Solicitation of a Minor Attorney –
As you can see, the solicitation of a minor charges are very serious offenses, with lifelong criminal and collateral consequences. It is imperative that you get a Minnesota criminal defense attorney that knows the law and how to fight for your best interests. The North Star Criminal Defense team has experience in handling these and similar types of cases, and our well-earned reputation and respect from the bench and prosecutors alike only aid in our efforts to put forth your best case. Contact us today.