Internet Chat Rooms Sex Crimes Attorneys in Michigan
Chat rooms and social media sites have become a standard form of communication for many people, but recently it has garnered the attention of specialized police initiatives to trap unsuspecting people into implicating themselves in serious felonies. Our internet chat room defense attorneys have been specializing in sex crimes for more than 19 years and have the experience, talent, and legal knowledge to win a favorable outcome in your case. Internet sex crimes are felonies that have serious prison sentences and require a person convicted to register as a sexual offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). Consequently, it is imperative that you capitalize on your opportunity to present the best legal defense that you are capable of assembling before the proverbial gavel sounds.
If you are facing allegations of internet sex crimes we will try to get out in front of the allegations and prevent formal charges from ever being filed. This will keep your record clean and prevent the unnecessary hardship of a protracted legal battle. However, if you have already been charged with a violation of MCL 750.145 for using a computer or the internet to commit a sex crime, then our focus shifts to preparing for trial and winning your case. In this section we are going to take a detailed look at the law surrounding internet sex crimes involving chat rooms and social media, and then discuss available defenses and what Grabel & Associates can do to help you achieve a favorable outcome.
Internet and Computer Solicitation Under MCL 750.145d(1)(a)
MCL 750.145d(1)(a) is the law that governs internet sex crimes related to soliciting minors. The law states that a person shall not use the internet or a computer to communicate with any person for the purpose of committing one of the specified crimes. The statute is very broad and includes a long list of prohibited conduct that a person cannot solicit a minor to commit by using the internet, peer to peer networks, or chat rooms. The list of prohibited conduct is robust, and specifies individual pieces of the criminal code that cannot be undertaken or attempted by using the internet.
The court of appeals has stated that there are three elements that must be present to reach a conviction under this statute. First, that the person used a computer or the internet for the alleged offense. Next, the person had the specific intent to attempt to commit conduct prohibited by the statute. For example, sexual penetration of a person between the ages of 13 and 16. Finally, the person must have believed that the intended victim was a minor. The third element is a notable piece of the statute that includes an express statement that you cannot use the computer to solicit when the victim is a minor “or is believed to be a minor.” The part that specifies that if the accused believes the other person is a minor means that the other person does not have to be a minor and could just be posing as a child. Consequently, this is the portion of the law that law enforcement officers use to create internet chatroom stings with minors.
The statute specifically addresses criminal sexual conduct degrees one through four. So, if a law enforcement agency has chat logs or files indicating that you attempted to set up a meeting with a minor for a sexual purpose, then you may be charged with MCL 750.45d(1)(a). For example, accosting, enticing or soliciting a child for an immoral purpose is prohibited by this statute and MCL 750.145a. Additionally, recruiting, inducing, or soliciting a minor is illegal under this statute and MCL 750.145c. Also, soliciting a minor for kidnapping is expressly specified as illegal to even talk about over the internet.
Here is a full list of the conduct using a computer or the internet that is prohibited by MCL 750.145d(1)(a):
- Accosting, enticing, or soliciting a child for an immoral purpose under MCL 750.145a
- Child sexually abusive activity under MCL 750.145c
- Recruiting, inducing, soliciting, or coercing a minor to commit a felony under MCL 750.157c
- Kidnapping under MCL 750.349
- Kidnapping a child under the age of 14 under MCL 750.350
- Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree under MCL 750.520b
- Criminal Sexual Conduct Second Degree under MCL 750.520c
- Criminal Sexual Conduct Third Degree under MCL 750.520d
- Criminal Sexual Conduct Fourth Degree under MCL 750.520e
- Assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct under MCL 750.520g
- Dissemination of sexually explicit matter to a minor under MCL 722.675
Internet Chat Rooms and Social Networking Sites
Internet chatrooms have increased in popularity and prevalence all across the internet. The consequence of this proliferation is that people of all walks of life can communicate with each other. The police have seen this as an opportunity to create situations for unsuspecting people to break the law. Consequently, there has been a drastic increase in the prosecution of people accused of using the internet to solicit minors. The typical set up is when a law enforcement officer lies in wait in a chatroom until they can strike up a conversation with an unsuspecting individual, and then begins what would otherwise seem to be an innocuous and innocent conversation. Sometimes suggestive words and phrases are implemented to entice the individual to begin a negotiation of sexual acts. This is the point where the “sting” takes effect and the person’s IP address is logged and tracked to their physical address.
The most common occurrence related to MCL 750.145 is when a person engages in conversation with an undercover police officer, and attempts to arrange a meeting to engage in sexual activity. When this occurs, the suspect will be arrested and charged with a violation of MCL 750.145. Additionally, the person’s computer will likely be confiscated and reviewed by forensic computer analysts in an attempt to uncover illicit materials.
Consequently, it is not uncommon for a person to be entrapped by such a police sting operation and end up facing additional charges for child sexually abusive materials. Internet sex crimes are serious felonies that have lengthy prison sentences. Consequently, you need the very best defense available to get the charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed. Grabel & Associates specializes in criminal defense of sex crimes and knows how to get results. We will fight to protect your rights and produce the best outcome possible under the circumstances. The good news is that a criminal sexual conduct is unlikely to have taken place if the arrest was the result of an undercover police sting operation, and consequently, what you need is an aggressive defense as to why you engaged in the particular conversation in question.
Internet Sex Crime Penalties and Sex Offender Registration
The penalties under 750.145 vary widely and are determined by what the prosecutor tries to prove at trial and whether the underlying offense is a misdemeanor or a felony. Consequently, the actual conviction that is entered and the penalties that a person may be sentenced to are dependent on whether the underlying crime is classified as a felony or a misdemeanor, as well as what the maximum penalty is for the underlying crime.
First, if the underlying crime is a misdemeanor or a felony with a prison term of less than one year, then the person will be convicted of a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $5,000 fine. Next, if the underlying crime is a misdemeanor or a felony with a maximum sentence of one year or more but less than two years, then the person will be found guilty of a felony and may be punished up to two years in prison and assessed a $5,000 fine. However, if the underlying crime is a felony with a maximum penalty of at least four years in prison but less than 10, then the person will be convicted of a felony and may be sentenced to as many as 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
If the underlying crime is a felony with a maximum prison sentence of ten years or more in prison but less than 15 years, then the person will be found guilty of a felony punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Finally, if the underlying crime is a felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years or more, then the person may be found guilty of a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. However, regardless of the particular sentencing guideline a person falls under for the length of prison sentence, they will be required to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). A violation of MCL 750.145 is a tier two offense under SORA.
Entrapment as a Defense to Internet Sex Crimes
In the police’s pursuit of enforcing the law it is not uncommon for them to exceed the bounds of effective police work. Entrapment is a very serious misappropriation of police resources that uses sting operations to lure otherwise law-abiding citizens to commit crimes that they would under normal circumstances never have even considered. If the police engaged in an undercover police sting operation that enticed you to break a law that you otherwise would not have, then entrapment can be a viable defense. The specific police procedures utilized in the course of the investigation and the details of the interaction leading up to the sting are both crucial elements in crafting an effective entrapment defense for chat room sex crimes, because police are allowed to use undercover tactics to create opportunities for people to commit crimes. However, entrapment occurs when the police action is impermissible and is the direct cause of criminal activity.
Another form of internet sex crime is called cyberstalking, and is defined and criminalized in MCL 600.2950a(1). Under this law, if a person who committed or attempted to commit a sexual assault uses an electronic form of communication to stalk, threaten, or otherwise harass a victim before or after an assault or attempted assault, then they can be charged and found guilty of this crime. Cyberstalking is an extremely serious crime in Michigan, and is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
Contact Grabel & Associates Today for a Free Consultation
If you are facing allegations or charges for internet sex crimes, cyberstalking, or any other sex crime, then you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. We have been practicing criminal defense for sexually related crimes for more than 19 years and have handled thousands of cases all over Michigan. Our knowledge, expertise, and commitment to excellence can be the difference between a harsh sentence and a favorable outcome. We are here to help you and will work toward getting the charges reduced or dropped. Contact us online or call us now at 1-800-883-2138 to schedule your free consultation to begin the process of assembling your individualized, aggressive, and comprehensive legal defense strategy.