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When Talking to a Minor on Social Media Is a Crime  

Wolfe & Mote Law Group, LLC Dec. 15, 2022

It’s no secret that today’s youth seem to be inextricably connected to their personal devices and social media. Much of the time, social media presents no immediate harm or threat to its users, but in other cases, you may run into legal trouble.  

A 2018 study done by Hopelab and Well Being Trust found that a whopping 81% of those aged 14 to 22 used social media daily. This frequent use means that anyone who engages with a minor online has to take extra precautions to ensure they’re not inadvertently committing a crime. 

If you’re concerned about a charge of online solicitation of a minor, or if you’d like to know more about what the law says, call Wolfe & Mote Law Group, LLC in Columbus, Ohio, to speak with a sex crimes attorney. They represent clients from throughout the area, including Dublin, Westerville, Gahanna, Hilliard, Licking County, Newark, Heath, Granville, Fairfield County, Lancaster, Pickerington, Delaware County, Delaware, Lewis Center, and Powell, Ohio. 

When Talking to a Minor on Social Media Is a Crime  

If you’re concerned about a recent interaction you’ve had online with a minor, you should consult with an attorney who can answer the following questions for you: “Is it illegal to talk to or be friends with a minor on social media?”, “When is talking to a minor on social media a crime?”, and “What is considered an inappropriate conversation with a minor on social media?” 

Simply having any contact with a minor online isn’t considered a crime, but there are some specific incidents that would be considered unlawful that you should be aware of. Basically, you may run the risk of being charged with intent to commit a felony, which could cover one of several types of crimes.  

Some examples of this would be solicitation of a minor, child pornography crimes, child endangerment, kidnapping, rape, or lewd acts. Importantly, you don’t need to be guilty of actually committing the crime (i.e., you can be charged with the intent of kidnapping even if you don’t actually go through with the kidnapping).  

Additionally, in order to be accused, the prosecution must show that you had engaged with the victim online, that you intended to commit a crime, and that you knew they were a minor. 

When Does It Start Crossing a Line?  

In most cases, it’s best to play it safe (or abstain from engaging in any contact with a minor on social media) when interacting with minors online because even a seemingly small act can be construed as something with ill intent. This could include giving gifts to minors, making requests to meet them in person, bringing up or engaging in discussions about provocative subjects, or lying about your identity (commonly referred to as “catfishing”). 

Penalties for Solicitation of a Minor  

The penalties for soliciting a minor will vary depending on the circumstances of your case, but they can be quite serious. You could be looking at large fines, prison time, and probation. All of this is in addition to having your name entered on the sex offender registry, which can limit where you’re able to live and what kinds of jobs you’re able to procure.  

How to Protect Yourself Against Accusations  

The single best way to protect yourself against accusations of this nature is to cease any engagement with minors online. If this is not possible, make sure all interactions and conversations you have with them are of a benign nature. It can also help to retain screenshots of all interactions should you need them to protect yourself in court. If you find yourself accused of one of these crimes—even if you believe it’s unfounded—it’s essential you speak with an attorney immediately.  

Trusted Legal Guidance When You Need It 

If you’re in the Columbus, Ohio, area and you’d like to meet with an experienced attorney to better understand your options when facing solicitation of a minor charge, call Wolfe & Mote Law Group, LLC today.