The law is designed in part to protect young people from harm. With this in mind, individuals who contact a minor to commit a felony can find themselves facing serious charges. Contacting a minor to commit a felony is a companion crime, usually paired with some underlying felony. It covers the act of making contact with a minor, even if you do not actually commit the felony that you plan to commit. The law was designed, at least in part, to allow police officers to catch people in the act. People who’ve been charged with this crime need a good defense if they are going to avoid serious jail time.
The fundamentals of the offense
Contacting a minor to commit a felony is a crime that requires a person to get in touch with a minor for the purpose of committing a host of qualifying felonies. The qualifying underlying felonies include rape, kidnapping, lewd acts, and a host of sexual offenses. Sending pornography is also a qualifying underlying felony. While one can be charged with any of these underlying felonies in addition to contacting a minor, the act of making contact is actually its own charge.
There is one critical element that must be present for the state to successfully prosecute this crime. In addition to simply making contact with a minor, one must know that the person on the other end of the line is a minor. This helps to protect individuals in those situations when they might be lied to. However, there is an element of the law that allows prosecution when a potential defendant should have known that the victim in question was a minor. Even if the victim lies about his or her age or says nothing at all, the potential defendant will be charged if it’s clear that he should have known the victim was a minor.
Contacting a minor and police stings
Many people have seen the Chris Hansen show, “To Catch a Predator.” There are many sting investigations like this that tend to result in charges. Most often, people charged with this crime have made contact on the Internet. They reach out to underage people for a nefarious purpose, and when they show up at some location to meet the minor, the police are waiting to make an arrest. More police departments than ever are on top of this crime, committing serious resources to its enforcement.
Must the minor be a real person?
In most cases, this crime can be charged even if the victim in question was not real. For example, if a police officer posed as a 14-year old girl on the Internet, a person can still be charged for contacting a minor even if it was a police officer pretending to be the underage girl. It is the intent of the would-be defendant that matters in this scenario rather than the actual circumstances. There are defenses to this crime, however, which is why getting a good attorney is so critical in these situations.
People charged with contacting a minor have an opportunity to form a defense, but only if they act quickly. Whether going all the way to trial or trying to come up with a plea bargain settlement, good lawyers help their clients come out of these situations with the best possible result. Contacting a minor can result in felony jail time in addition to whatever time is required under the statute for the underlying felony. Acting quick to mitigate the effects of the conviction is a wise move for those who have been charged under this statute.