Law enforcement in Pennsylvania takes a serious interest in internet sex crimes, especially those involving children. A common police tactic for offenses like unlawful contact with a minor is conducting online sting operations, which subject people to devastating charges and incredible embarrassment.
If you or a loved one are accused of unlawful contact with a minor in or around Pittsburgh, reach out to an experienced sex crimes attorney right away. These charges expose you to prison, fines, sex offender registration, and life-long stigma. You may even lose your job or marriage.
Charged with unlawful contact in Pennsylvania? Don’t make a statement to the police or try to deal with it alone.
Let a defense lawyer explain your rights, clear up any misunderstandings, and fight for the best possible result. This could mean avoiding criminal charges, getting a dismissal, or clearing your name in court.
What is Unlawful Contact With A Minor?
Under 18 Pa. Code § 6318, unlawful contact with a minor is any person who intentionally contacts a minor (or an undercover officer) with the purpose of engaging in:
- Any offense described in Chapter 31, Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Code (pertaining to sexual offenses)
- Open lewdness
- Obscene or other sexual materials and performances
- Sexual abuse of children
- Sexual exploitation of children
Meeting the Minor isn’t Required
You do not have to make real-life contact outside of the Internet to be arrested for unlawful contact with a minor. For example, if you email an explicit photo of yourself to a minor along with a suggestion that you meet for a sex act, you can still be charged – even if you don’t get together.
Online Solicitation Charges
Online solicitation includes communications to meet minors for sex that take place in a chat room or through email or text messages.
Many police sting operations revolve around catching adults as they try to meet minors for sex. For example, a 35-year-old man might send obscene messages to someone he believes to be a 14-year-old girl, but who is actually an undercover detective.
Unlawful Contact with a Minor Penalties
If you are arrested for unlawful contact with a minor, you face very harsh consequences. This includes up to seven years in prison for a felony of the third degree. You may also be charged with additional crimes if actually have sexual contact with the minor.
These convictions likely require you to register as a sex offender, which can impact your family, neighborhood, and community. You may also not be allowed to be near schools or youth centers.
In addition, a criminal conviction will be problematic for future employers, college applications, rental applications, and more.
What to Do If You’re Charged with Unlawful Contact
If you have been charged with a sex offense involving a child, your first step should be to immediately call a sex crime attorney. An experienced Pittsburgh sex crimes defense attorney will take an in-depth look at the evidence and help explain your options.
The Commonwealth is going to seek hefty penalties against you so don’t wait – call us today (412) 281-2146.
Searches & Dealing with Sex Crime Investigations
Do not let the police search your home or computer without a search warrant. There’s also a possibility that you (or the person charged with unlawful contact) will be held in police custody overnight.
Do not speak to anyone about our case except your attorney. Don’t talk to the police or prosecutors unless your attorney is with you.
If you have been picked up in an undercover operation, be especially cautious about anything you say because it is likely you are being recorded by the arresting officer. When you meet with your lawyer, give them as much information as you can about what happened.
What a Lawyer Does to Help
When you are dealing with unlawful contact with a minor charge, you need a lawyer who can handle every aspect of your case. This means highlighting the flaws in the case, challenging witnesses, discrediting the evidence, negotiating for a favorable outcome, or fighting to prove your innoicence, our team will be essential to dealing with these charges the right way.
For example, if you were targeted in a sting, we can point to the various errors and oversights that are common in these operations. Your attorney can help exclude inappropriate evidence, explain when computer evidence should;t be trusted, and present arguments in your favor.