The Internet has evolved to be one of the most useful tools that have ever existed. Unfortunately, the person on the other side of the screen doesn’t always have your best interest in mind.
Internet crimes can include harassment, cyberbullying, and even theft. They can also be sex-related.
In Texas, you need to be aware of what types of Internet crimes there are — and what to do if you’re accused.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we got you covered.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.
This one’s pretty straightforward.
Online sexual harassment involves sending repeated or unwanted messages that are sexual in nature. These could include requests for meetups, harsh comments on someone’s appearance, and so on.
But sexual harassment could also be unwarranted requests for meetups, especially if the two parties aren’t relatively familiar with each other.
David frequently sees photos of an old friend from high school while scrolling through his social media. One day, he decides to message the girl and tell her that she’s grown to become a beautiful woman.
She thanks him for his compliment, and the two engage in small talk for a while. Despite her not reciprocating his advances, he continues to steer the conversation toward how attractive she is, even making inappropriate comments about her figure.
Class B misdemeanor charge. The defendant faces up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine if convicted.
Some Internet sex crimes are gray areas. This one is not.
If you have or distribute sexual or inappropriate photos of anyone under the age of 18, you could be charged with possession or distribution of child pornography. This is a very serious offense that carries heavy consequences.
While the concept of child pornography is straightforward, there can be times when the defendant is unaware they are committing a crime.
Read on to learn more.
Ricardo and his high school girlfriend frequently exchanged nude photos of themselves during their senior year when they were both 17. They have long since broken up, and Ricardo is nearly 28 years old today.
However, Ricardo also compulsively keeps all his personal data archived. This includes things like old assignments, research papers, letters of recommendation, etc.
Ricardo still has explicit images of his high school girlfriend on his hard drive, who was 17 at the time the photos were taken. He is technically in possession of child pornography.
For only possession of child pornography, you’ll be charged with a third-degree felony. You face a prison sentence of two to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
This crime is particularly dubious.
It’s one thing to ask someone for nude photos. It’s another situation entirely when you extort them or mislead them in order to acquire this content.
Ethan has a crush on his coworker Sarah. After a brief romantic fling months ago, Sarah decided to call things off and keep their relationship entirely platonic.
Ethan was not pleased with this outcome, and he has harbored resentment for Sarah and her rejection of him.
He decides to make a fake social media account using pictures of an attractive male that he downloaded. Over a period of months, he adds people on her friend list. When he finally friend requests her, she sees that they have mutual friends, and she accepts.
Ethan, under the guise of “Jason,” messages Sarah and claims he met her a long time ago at a bar. She says she doesn’t recall the occasion but continues to engage in conversation.
Over a period of weeks, the two talk to each other almost every day. “Jason” says that he’s out of town for business but would love to meet up with Sarah when he returns. She excitedly agrees.
As they talk more and more, the conversation begins to turn sexual. Sarah eventually sends explicit photos of herself.
“Jason” asks for more, but she says she’s uncomfortable with doing so until they meet. He threatens to send the explicit photos he’s already obtained to her friends and family if she doesn’t comply.
Intentionally distributing explicit photos of someone without their consent is a class A misdemeanor. You can face up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
The defendant could also be charged with extortion.
If you’re having a sexually explicit conversation with someone who is under the age of 18, you’re breaking the law.
While not as serious as a child pornography charge, the punishment could require you to register as a sex offender.
James goes out to a concert with a group of friends. He is introduced to the younger sister of someone in their group, and the two hit it off.
Over the next couple weeks, the pair frequently send sexually explicit messages to each other but never neither ever exchange photos. Unbeknownst to James, the girl he’s been talking to is only 17.
Her parents eventually discover the conversation and contact the police. James is arrested.
Since no pictures were exchanged, the appropriate punishment can be a bit of a gray area.
In this scenario, James would be charged with sexual harassment, which is a class B misdemeanor that could result in six months of jail time and a $2,000 fine.
The charge may impose a harsher sentence due to the age of the victim, and James may have to register as a sex offender.
But it doesn’t have to be.
With the above information about types of Internet crimes in mind, you’ll be well on your way to understanding the rules of the net and staying out of trouble.
If you’ve found yourself in need of legal representation, don’t hesitate to contact us to see how we can help.
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