UNDERSTANDING OHIO INTERNET SEX CRIME LAWS
In the digital age, it's no surprise that a growing number of crimes are taking place online. But you might not realize that your activities on the internet could result in sex crime charges. While sexual assaults in Ohio were reported at a rate of 86.9 per 100,000 population in 2015, an individual doesn't necessarily have to do physical harm to another person to need help from a sex crime attorney. Just because these activities take place on a screen and not out in the "real world" doesn't mean they can't have massive consequences on your life. Let's take a closer look at some of the most common sex offenses that can take place on the world wide web -- and what you should do if you face sex crime charges as a result of your alleged computer habits.
Common Types of Internet Sex Crimes
Importuning Solicitation of a Minor:
Those who face sex crime charges of importuning are accused of attempting to engage a minor in some kind of sexual activity via a telecommunications device (i.e., a computer). In Ohio, there are different subsections of this law that pertain to the ages of the victim (e.g., minors under the age of 13 versus minors under the age of 18) or the offender. If charged and convicted, defendants may face mandatory sex offender registration, prison time, and even felony charges. If the initial contact leads to sexual acts in the real world, a person may be charged with unlawful sexual conduct. Internet solicitation -- offering some type of payment or valuable exchange for sexual contact -- is also a crime, even when it involves persons above the age of 18.
Possession of Child Pornography: While possessing porn involving consenting adults is not illegal, pornography possession becomes a crime when this sexually explicit content involves a minor under the age of 18. This content could include photos, videos, undeveloped film, electronically stored data, and even images that have been digitally generated that involve persons that cannot be distinguished from minor persons (in other words, the image may not actually involve a minor, but the media was made to appear like a minor is pictured). The minor involved in these content does not need to be engaged in a sex act; rather, the image or video must merely be sexually suggestive for an individual to be charged with possession. Pandering obscenity charges may be filed against anyone who creates, promotes, produces, or publishes such media.
Other Online Crimes: Because the digital landscape is always changing, the law may not always catch up as quickly as one would hope. But new kinds of charges are emerging that can stem from online behavior. These charges may include allegations of cyberstalking or cyberbullying, which can take on a sexual connotation when minors are involved. Unwanted sexual advances, threats, and harassment via text messages may fall under this category, depending on the situation. An individual could also be charged with lewd behavior or indecent exposure due to photos sent or live video streams accessed via telecommunications devices.
If you're facing sex crime charges stemming from alleged online activities, you should find an attorney experienced in this area of law to ensure your rights are protected. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact our offices today.