Houston Criminal Defense Blog

Controversial Online Solicitation Law in Texas Overturned


On October 30, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals struck down a 2005 state law regarding online communication with minors. Under the law, adults who engaged in sexually explicit communication with minors over the internet could be charged with a third-degree felony –a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison. According to the unanimous ruling of the court last month, however, it was stated that the law violated the Constitution’s First Amendment.

Why the Law Was Struck Down

Sex crimes are an area of law surrounded by strong opinions and harsh public scrutiny. Sex crimes involving children – including online solicitation of a minor – are taken even more seriously. While many victims’ rights advocates supported the original law, others in the legal field were left to interpret what the law meant in relation to the Constitution. Ultimately, the court reached its decision because it believed that the law was too broadly written and because it violated the First Amendment by prosecuting individuals pre-emptively. The court’s decision also states that the problem was not protecting children, but rather allowing the government to restrict free speech.

Part of this decision considered the anonymity that comes with the internet – primarily the fact that adults might be unaware that the person they were communicating with was actually a minor. This is a significant fact in most online sex crime cases and one that can be used to create an effective defense. Additionally, many who supported overturning the law noted the fact that law enforcement officers frequently pose as minors online as part of sting operations.

Severe Penalties Still in Place

Although the recent decision overturned this particular law, there is no denying the fact that sex crimes are still a top priority for law enforcement agencies throughout Houston, Texas, and the United States. When adults do act upon their intent to commit a sexual act with a child – or when officers allege that they do – they can face severe penalties, including lengthy terms of imprisonment. In many cases, sex crime convictions and mandatory sex offender registration can create profound and long-term limitations.

If you or your loved one is facing charges for a sex crime such as online solicitation of a minor – or if you are currently under investigation – the need for experienced representation is of the utmost importance. Because Billy Skinner has successfully resolved a wide range of sex crime cases, he has the tools and insight to protect your future. Learn more about the charges and penalties you face and how a Houston sex crime lawyer from Billy Skinner & Associates can help by calling (713) 600-7777 or filling out a free case evaluation form.