Snapchat Use Sends MN Man to Prison for Sex Crimes
On September 7, 2021, a Minnesota man pleaded guilty to producing sexually explicit images and videos of a minor. The man contacted a 9-year-old girl on Snapchat. He then lied about his age in order to get her to send him sexually explicit material. He admitted to soliciting similar material from more than twenty minors.
The Minnesota man will face sentencing on January 4, 2022 for serious sex crimes against a minor. Under 609.352 of Minnesota statutes, he could be required to pay up to $5,000 in fines and spend up to three years in prison.
Here is what you need to know about Minnesota laws around Electronic Solicitation of Children to Engage in Sexual Conduct.
Under Minnesota state law:
- A “child” is a person who is 15 or younger.
- “Sexual conduct” is defined as “sexual contact of the individual’s primary genital area, sexual penetration, or sexual performance.”
- To “solicit” is commanding or attempting to persuade someone in person, by telephone, by letter, or by “any computerized means.”
What is Electronic Solicitation of a Child?
Electronic solicitation of a child is the use of electronic means of communication to attempt to persuade a person under the age of 15 to engage in sexual conduct. These crimes are usually committed via online communication by use of a smartphone, tablet, or computer and involve the offender asking the victim to either send images of sexual conduct, meet in person, or both.
In this case, the perpetrator contacted a 9-year-old on Snapchat and asked her to provide photographic content that depicts sexual conduct. In other cases, offenders are charged with solicitation of a minor after asking young boys and girls to meet with them in person.
Charges are usually brought up when authorities have reason to believe the accused had sexual motivation for asking the minor to meet.
Under Minnesota law, anyone older than 18 years who solicits a child to engage in sexual conduct with intent to engage in sexual conduct is guilty of a felony.
Likewise, anyone older than 18 years old who uses an electronic device to commit any of the following acts can be charged with a felony:
- Soliciting a child to engage in sexual conduct
- Engaging in communication with a child relating to or describing sexual conduct
- Distributing any material, including video or photo, that relates to or describes sexual conduct of a child
Those found guilty of these types of felonies can be sentenced to up to three years in prison and required to pay up to $5,000 in fines.
Child sex offenders face a lifetime of persecution after their prison sentences are served, but many of those offenders never make it out of prison. Prisoners who are convicted of child sex crimes are targeted for violent acts more than any other type of offender.
Anyone convicted of a sex crime involving a minor will be required to register with the National Sex Offender Registry and the Minnesota Predatory Offender Registry. Registered sex offenders continue to suffer the penalties of their crimes well after their sentence has been served. While living with the shame and guilt of their crimes, they are cast into the spotlight, where they remain in constant fear of ridicule and vigilantism.
Sex offender registry isn’t the only post-sentencing effect that haunts people charged with this type of crime. Since solicitation of a child is a felony, anyone convicted will lose many freedoms enjoyed by American citizens, including the right to vote and the right to legally own a firearm.
Some crimes can be expunged from offenders’ records, but all sex crimes must remain on record for the entirety of the offenders’ lives.
One of the most common defenses for sex crime charges is that the victim provided consent or permission to the accused to engage in sexual conduct. However, this defense is not possible when the victim is a minor. Since children’s brains are developmentally immature, they are incapable of making decisions such as who to engage with sexually.
Some possible defenses for electronic solicitation of a child or minor only exist with true innocence on the part of the accused or with misconduct on the part of law enforcement.
Not Online at the Time
Everything done online has a timestamp. Every communication sent or received can be traced to discover its precise time of delivery. So, if a person can prove they were not online at the time of the criminal communication, an experienced attorney will be able to use this as an effective defense.
Violation of Constitutional Rights
When pressed for proof of lawful adherence to protocol, law enforcement officials are often found to have conducted themselves in a negligent manner. Negligence on the part of law enforcement officials often results in violations of citizens’ constitutional rights, and if a lawyer finds evidence proving those rights have been violated during the arrest, the charge will have to be dropped.
About the Author:
A lifelong Minnesotan, founding partner Ronald R. Envall has spent his entire legal career fighting for the little guy, focusing on workers’ compensation, Social Security, and personal injury cases. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers as a Top Rated attorney in Duluth, placing him in the top 5 percent of all workers comp lawyers across the state. In his free time, Mr. Envall serves on the boards of several area government and nonprofit organizations and is a member of the Minnesota Association for Justice, which supports consumer rights.