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Lynnwood Internet Sex Crimes Attorneys

Avvo 10.0 Lawyers with Over 20,000 Cases Handled

When you are facing charges as complex and multidimensional as Internet sex crime accusations, you will need an experienced and powerful defense attorney on your side. At the Law Offices of Lance Fryrear, we have handled over 20,000 cases throughout our practice, including standalone Internet offenses, sex crime charges, and, in unison, Internet sex crime charges. As a result, we have proficient and practical knowledge of Washington’s Internet laws and sex offense laws, enabling us to better prepare your Internet sex crime case against the prosecution, especially in a rapidly digitizing world. 

Schedule a free initial consultation with Avvo 10.0 rated lawyers to discuss your legal options. Call (425) 224-7075 or contact us online today.

Sexual Exploitation of a Minor on the Internet

As the Internet has created a completely new and seemingly endless environment for communication and digital interaction, it has also become a dangerous space for sexual exploitation on a digital platform. Washington law prohibits sexual exploitation of children (also child pornography) and penalizes adults for distributing or possessing sexually explicit images of minors online. Note that possession refers to the knowing possession of visual or printed matter depicting a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The intentional viewing (via the Internet) of visual or printed matter depicting a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct is also a crime under this statute.

The above offenses are classified by their severity as first- and second-degree crimes, based on the conduct depicted in the image. A first-degree crime is when the image depicts a minor engaged in a sexual act, and a second-degree charge may be if the image shows a minor’s genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or breasts.

An adult convicted of a first- or second-degree sexual exploitation offense is guilty of a Class B felony that carries up to 10 years in prison and required sex offender registration. Naturally, first-degree offenses generally receive harsher penalties than second-degree offenses. Note that the statute of limitations for someone to bring forward a case of sexual exploitation is 3 years.

Note that in situations where explicit images of minors are shared on social media (including "selfies" taken by the subjects themselves), the sharing of these photos may cross into child pornography territory, depending on the nature of the images and severity of distribution. After all, the intent behind child pornography laws is to protect children from exploitation, so any act that threatens their safety, such as sharing their images on social media, can be a crime. This is an area of Internet sex crime law that is still evolving, though, and varies on a case-by-case basis, so it is best to consult an attorney about the specific circumstances of such an incident.

Washington “Sexting” Laws

One specific type of Internet-enabled sexual exploitation is “sexting,” which is the sending of nude or sexually suggestive images electronically, such as through text message, social media, chat boards, or email. Washington punishes the crime of sexting images of minors (younger than 18 years old) under its laws against sexual exploitation of children as discussed above, criminalizing both sexting by minors and by adults.

The lowest offense generally applies when a minor sexts a sexually explicit image of another minor 13 years or older. Misdemeanor penalties may be applied if the image shows the minor’s genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or breasts, and they could increase to gross misdemeanor penalties if the image depicts the minor in a sexual act. Note that minors convicted of this level of crime are not required to register as a sex offender. However, the law will require prosecutors to place first-time offenders in diversion, which might require the defendant to attend counseling or treatment, perform community service, or pay restitution to the alleged victim or the community. This particular statute also does not penalize minors for sending selfies or possessing sexually explicit images of minors 13 years or older.

More severe sentencing will apply if a minor sexts a sexually explicit image of another minor younger than 13 years old or knowingly possesses a sexually explicit image of another minor younger than 13 years old. Both of these crimes are Class B felonies requiring sex offender registration. If the image depicts the minor in a sexual act, the crime will be charged as a first-degree offense and otherwise a second-degree offense.

Federal Sexting Laws

Sexting may also be criminalized under federal law, depending on the severity of the circumstances. There isn’t a specific sexting law they may cite, but the federal government does have the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act of 2003. This Act makes it illegal to use a computer to send or receive:

  • any obscene visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct;
  • any image of a minor actually engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
  • any material containing child pornography.

It is also a federal crime for someone to cause a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct to portray that conduct. Parents who consent to their minor child’s participation may also face charges.

Let The Law Offices of Lance Fryrear Defend You

With technology innovating at a rapid speed even the law is struggling to keep up with, you will need an experienced attorney familiar with Internet practices and sex crime laws to handle your Internet sex crime charge. Our lawyers at The Law Offices of Lance Fryrear handle both standalone Internet crimes and sex charges, so you can trust that we have the breadth of knowledge and professional skill to litigate your Internet sex crimes case. Whether you have been charged under sexual exploitation laws or more specific sexting laws, our legal team can strategize a strong defense for you and combat any harsh accusations.

Schedule a free initial consultation online or at (425) 224-7075 to discuss your legal options in more detail with an attorney at The Law Offices of Lance Fryrear.

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