Solicitation of a Child in Florida
Conviction for solicitation of a child in Florida will lead to dire consequences: not only the prison time and the other penalties normally associated with a criminal conviction, but also requiring you to register as a sex offender even after completion of your sentence. Your sex offense registration will be available to the public, and you will be viewed as a “child sex offender” and carry the social stigma associated with this label for the rest of your life.
Solicitation of a child for sexual activity may be charged under multiple sections of the law, each with different criteria and different possible defenses. A defense to a solicitation of a child charge under one section of the law may not work if you are charged under a different section of the law.
Electronic solicitation is a common charge, often resulting from a scheme popularized by Chris Hansen in the Dateline NBC 'To Catch a Predator' series. In this situation, a police officer or similar person poses as an underage teenager in an attempt to lure people into making sexual solicitations. It is not a defense to this charge that the person on the other end was actually a cop and not a child, and entrapment defenses typically are unsuccessful.
However, if you are charged under other sections of the law, the prosecution must prove that you solicited a person who actually was a child. If you are charged with any form of solicitation of a child for sexual purposes, an experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney can help you navigate Florida's complex set of laws regarding solicitation of a child for sexual purposes, and advise you of which course of action is the best choice for your particular charge.
Tallahassee Solicitation of a Child Defense Lawyer
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tallahassee is very important if you have been charged with solicitation of a child in Florida. The attorneys at Pumphrey Law are familiar with Florida criminal law and have successfully defended clients accused of solicitation of a child.
Don Pumphrey and the firm have years of experience representing those charged with Florida sex offenses. They are devoted to protecting the rights of their clients, and they will fight to get the best possible outcome for your case.
Pumphrey Law represents people accused solicitation of a child in Tallahassee, Midway, Bristol, Monticello, Quincy and nearby areas. Call (850) 681-7777 or send a message on our website today to discuss your defense options during a free consultation with our legal team.
Information on Child Solicitation Charges
- Solicitation of a Child in Florida Defined
- Penalties for Solicitation of a Child in Florida
- Defenses for Solicitation of a Child in Florida
Multiple sections of Florida law cover solicitation of a child for sexual purposes.
Fla. Stat. § 847.0135(3)(a) makes it illegal to use a computer, smartphone, or similar device to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child (or a person you believe to be a child) to commit an unlawful sexual act, or attempt to do so. In most circumstances, solicitation of a child to commit any sexual act will be considered solicitation of a child to commit an unlawful sexual act.
Florida law considers anyone under the age of 18 to be a “child” for purposes of this law. Even if you live in a state or country with a lower age of consent, you may be charged under this law for solicitation of an underage person in Florida. If the “child” is actually a police officer or another adult posing as a child, you may still be convicted of violating this law.
Each usage of the computer or smartphone may be charged as a separate offense.
Fla. Stat. § 800.04(6)(a)2 makes it illegal to solicit a person under the age of 16 to commit a lewd or lascivious act. As with the law discussed above, solicitation to commit essentially any sexual act will be considered a violation of this law. A person does not need to be using a computer or electronic device to be charged with violating this law.
A person who is in a position of familial or custodial authority over a person under the age of 18 may also be charged with solicitation of that person for sexual activity under Fla. Stat. §794.011(8)(a).
If convicted of electronic solicitation of a child under Fla. Stat. § 847.0135 (3)(a), it is a third-degree felony. If a court determines you misrepresented your age during the commission of this offense, it becomes a second-degree felony offense.
If convicted of soliciting a person under the age of 16 to commit a lewd or lascivious act under Fla. Stat. § 800.04(6)(a)2, and you are 18 years of age or older, it is a second-degree felony. If you are under the age of 18, it is a third-degree felony.
If convicted under Fla. Stat. §794.011(8)(a) of solicitation of a child under your authority, this is also a third-degree felony.
If convicted of solicitation of a child as a third-degree felony, you face:
- Up to five years in prison
- Up to $5,000 in fines
If convicted of solicitation of a child as a second-degree felony, you face:
- Up to 15 years in prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines,
Even after you are released from prison, you will still have to register as a sex offender, and your neighbors and everyone else will be able to view you on the sex offender registry. All this comes in addition to the normal restrictions on your life that come from being a convicted felon, for example, a lifetime prohibition on possession of guns anywhere in the United States.
Some defenses are available to you if you are accused of solicitation of a child.
Entrapment is a defense that is available, but it is much harder to successfully use this defense than most people think. This defense is successful only in situations where you can demonstrate that police induced you to commit an offense that you were not otherwise predisposed to commit. However, it is difficult to successfully demonstrate this, since the prosecution will attempt to use evidence that you committed the offense as evidence that you were also predisposed to commit the offense. Yet, if you have evidence that it was police who persistently suggested illegal sexual activity, and/or that you were reluctant to engage in any such, it is possible that an entrapment defense can succeed.
The prosecution must also prove that you actually solicited the “child.” If the suggestion of illegal sexual activity came entirely from the other person and not from yourself, this may be used is a successful defense against a solicitation of a child charge.
The prosecution must also prove that the solicitation came from you. If your smartphone was stolen, or you live in a place where other people have access to your computer, it is possible that the solicitation messages were sent by another person.
If you are charged with soliciting a person under the age of 16 to commit a lewd or lascivious act under Fla. Stat. § 800.04(6)(a)2, it may be a successful defense that the person solicited was actually an adult, such as a law enforcement officer, and not really a child. However, the electronic solicitation of a child law, Fla. Stat. § 847.0135 (3)(a), is written to prevent this defense from being successful.
If you are charged with electronic solicitation of a child law, Fla. Stat. § 847.0135 (3)(a), the prosecution must prove that an electronic communication was used to make the solicitation. If the alleged solicitation was made using a call from a landline phone, you should not be convicted of this charge. However, a conviction of soliciting a person under the age of 16 to commit a lewd or lascivious act under Fla. Stat. § 800.04(6)(a)2 may still be possible.
Finding A Solicitation of a Child Attorney in Leon County, Florida
If you have been accused of solicitation of a child in Leon County, contact Pumphrey Law to discuss the facts of your particular case. There may be defenses to the charges you face, and finding an experienced felony criminal defense lawyer in Tallahassee who is familiar with Florida's myriad sex crime offenses is your best option to avoid the penalties and social stigma that come with a conviction for solicitation of a child. The attorneys at Pumphrey Law will aggressively fight for your defense, and may even be able to get your charges dismissed entirely. Call us at (850) 681-7777 for your free consultation today.
Article last updated August 5, 2016.
Attorney Don Pumphrey Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney.