Paul D. Cramm

Electronic Solicitation Defense Attorney In Olathe, Johnson County, KS

Most people have seen the Dateline TV features in which law enforcement agents pretend to be underage girls in Internet chatrooms and engage in sexually explicit exchanges with adult men. These “chats” lead to arrangements for a meeting for sex, and when the unsuspecting gentleman shows up, he’s arrested on camera.

Virtually identical “sting” operations are occurring nationwide – several have been successfully implemented by Federal and local law enforcement agencies right here in the Kansas City Metro Area. Your arrest need not be nationally televised to present significant jeopardy to your freedom and your future. The presumptive sentence if convicted of this offense is imprisonment in the Kansas Department of Corrections – even if you have no criminal history whatsoever.

If you have been accused of engaging in sexually inappropriate electronic communications with a minor, the sooner you act, the better. Please contact my office in Overland Park if you need a Kansas City Internet solicitation defense lawyer to defend you on charges of child enticement or electronic solicitation of a minor. Successful representation will require thorough analysis of the applicable statutes, penalties, and all fact and legal defenses.

Just as in child pornography possession cases, both state and Federal laws have been tightened up to defeat and invalidate prior successful defenses to Internet solicitation charges. Before the advent of new laws that specifically prohibit the mere sending of the electronic message, prosecutors proceeded under the theory of “attempted” indecent liberties with a minor. In those cases, defense counsel could raise numerous legitimate defenses associated with the issue of whether or not the Defendant had made a “significant” step toward completing the underlying offense. For example: did the Defendant actually travel to the agreed meeting location; did the Defendant intend to complete a physical sexual act; was an actual minor even involved? Now prosecutors no longer have to prove whether the defendant took any steps toward the completion of actual sexual activity with the alleged underage girl. Since the latest Kansas amendments to the law in 2022, simply soliciting sexual activity via the internet from a ‘purported’ child under 16 may be sufficient to support prosecution and conviction.

K.S.A. 21-5509 provides: “Electronic solicitation is, by means of communication conducted through the telephone, internet or by other electronic means, enticing or soliciting a person, whom the offender believes to be a child, to commit or submit to an unlawful sexual act.”  If the Defendant is communicating with an individual believed to be at least 14 years if age – but less than 16 years of age, the charge is a Severity Level 3 Person Felony Offense.  If the Defendant is communicating with an individual believed to be under 14 years of age, the charge is a Severity Level 1 Person Felony Offense.  These are serious Presumptive Prison Offenses with a sentencing rage of 55 – 247 months for the Severity Level 3 offense and 147 – 653 months for the Severity Level 1 offense.

Johnson County, Kansas Criminal Defense Attorney

However, that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. To the contrary, that just requires competent and aggressive Defense counsel to work harder and smarter to achieve positive results.  Because the contents of the electronic communication will be dispositive in many of these cases, enlisting the assistance of an independent forensic analysis of the device used during the alleged offense may be the difference between conviction and acquittal in these devastating cases.

There are still many issues to explore:

  1. Did the officers conducting the “sting” deliberately select an age for the fictitious minor that would statutorily enhance the applicable penalties?
  2. Did the officers cross the line with regard to the chat dialogue and commit legal “entrapment” of the Defendant?
  3. Does the Defendant’s verbatim chat unequivocally propose sexual activity, or was the language sufficiently vague such that it did not technically violate the statute?
  4. Were there any mental, emotional, or social stressors occurring in the Defendant’s life at the time of the incident that could provide legitimate mitigation?

These are but a few of the many issue that only the best criminal defense attorneys will thoroughly explore on their clients’ behalf.

“The Importance of Aggressive Sex Related Criminal Defense”.

Because of the breadth of the new laws, under which a simple transcript of a chat room conversation might support a conviction in some cases, defending charges of Internet sex crimes or electronic solicitation of a minor on the facts can be very difficult. In some cases, the best result is obtained by negotiating with the prosecutor for amendment of the initial charges or for an agreement on sentencing recommendations following successful completion of a treatment program with a sexual behavior therapist or other clinical professional.

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