Internet Sex Crimes + Laws, Charges & Statute of Limitations
The Internet is the latest frontier for law enforcement officials. The majority of Internet sex crimes involve people who are underage, dealing in videos of child pornography, or using the Internet to set up sexual contacts with children. Approximately 2,500 people are arrested every year in the US for Internet sex crimes involving minors. About 25% of those arrests involve officers working under cover.
Child pornography has exploded since the Internet was born in the mid 1990s. Child pornography can be found through all types of Internet technology today, including websites, email, IMs, newsgroups, bulletin boards and social networks.
Internet Sex Crime Laws
Both federal and state laws make it a crime to engage in any type of sexual-related contact with a minor, who is under the age of 18, on the Internet. This includes sending photographs, texts, emails or any form of communication that is sexual in nature.
Federal and state law also prohibit the production, possession, distribution or sale of pornographic material that show a minor under 18 in a sexual way. Child pornography laws now are being used by states and the federal government to punish using computers and the Internet to obtain, share and distribute any sexual-related material involving minors.
Note that images of child pornography are not protected by the First Amendment. The federal legal definition of child pornography, online or in print form, does not mean that there has to be an image of the child engaging in some form of sex. A picture of a naked child can be viewed as pornography if it is sexually suggestive.
Internet Sex Crime Punishment
A first time offender who is caught engaging in a sex crime online, or handling or producing child pornography, can get up to 15-30 years in prison. Note that sex crime offenders may be prosecuted under both federal and state laws.
It has been reported that the length of federal Internet sex crime and child pornography sentences has gone up 500% in the last 15 years.
Internet Sex Crime Statute of Limitations
The federal statute 18 USC 3282 notes that no one may be prosecuted and jailed for a non capital offense, if the indictment occurs more than five years after the commission of the alleged crime. This includes child pornography and Internet sex crimes.
Internet Sex Crime Cases
While Internet sex crime and child pornography are terrible things and should be harshly punished, some of the stricter laws have led to some unusual cases. In the cases below, it is debatable if the defendant should be charged with a sex crime:
- A 19 year-old high school student sent images of his naked, underage girlfriend by cell phone. He was charged with child pornography and production.
- A high school senior who was 18 had consensual sex with his 14 year old girlfriend. He was charged with rape.
- A man who was 22 years-old made a consensual home video of sex with his girlfriend who was 17 years-old. He put the video on his computer. He was charged with an Internet sex crime of child pornography production.
Internet Sex Crime Cases
- Augusta GA Man Charged With Internet Sex Crime – A man from Augusta GA was arrested last week related to an Internet sex crime in Colorado.
- NJ Court Bans Sex Offenders from Social Media – A state appeals court in New Jersey ruled that sex offenders on parole may not use social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
- St. Louis Man Posts Online Ad For Partner in Sexual Assault on Minor – A 32 year-old man solicited an adult online to sexually assault his 11 year-old relative.
- Ohio Man Indicted on 38 Counts of Internet Sex Crimes – A man is being held at the regional jail in Nelsonville OH after 300 nude images of children were found on his computer by the sheriff’s office.
National Sex Crimes News
PIMA COUNTY, AZ ( Tucson News Now) -. A man wanted in Pima County on child sex crime charges was arrested Sunday, Feb. 5 after allegedly sneaking into the country, authorities said. Border Patrol…
The Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a voter-approved provision in the state Constitution and laws that generally forbid defendants facing charges of certain sex crimes against minors to…
PANAMA CITY — A female Bay County juvenile detention officer trainee is behind bars after authorities received reports she had a sexual relationship with a former inmate, according to arrest…
The prosecutor says in addition to having sexual contact with the victim, he also took a photo of that sexual contact and saved it. Robert Carr is charged with second degree crime sex charges and…
Man indicted on child sex crime charges A Woodlands man accused of sexually assaulting multiple young girls was indicted Tuesday. Rodney Smith, 48, is …and…
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Sex Crime Laws by State
Source: Federal Charges
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