Collin County residents need to understand how easy it is for prosecutors to charge someone with “criminal solicitation of a minor.” Solicitation usually comes up in the context of sex crimes, although it may refer to any attempt to induce or convince a person under the age of 17 to commit a felony under Texas law. It is also important to note that solicitation is considered an “inchoate” or incomplete offense–in other words, it does not matter whether the solicitation was successful. It is the attempt that constitutes the crime.
What Constitutes “Criminal Solicitation of a Minor”?
Texas Penal Code Section 15.031 states a person commits a crime if he or she “requests, commands, or attempts to induce a minor to engage in specific conduct” that would constitute a criminal offense in its own right, or otherwise make the minor a party to such an offense. Again, it does not matter if the minor agrees to engage in such acts. All the prosecution needs to prove is that the defendant attempted to get the minor to engage in criminal activity.
For example, in one recent Texas case, a court found a defendant guilty of solicitation of a minor when he offered to forgive a $5 debt owed by an 11-year-old in exchange for oral sex. The defendant said he offered the child multiple “options” to get out of paying the money. In this scenario, the child did not actually accept the oral sex “option.”
This did not save the defendant at trial. As a state appeals court explained, Texas solicitation law does not require the child’s acceptance. Merely “asking” for oral sex is a crime–and the defendant received 20-year prison sentence as a result.
Corroborating a Solicitation Accusation
The Penal Code states a court cannot convict a defendant based solely on the accuser’s “uncorroborated testimony.” However, corroboration does not necessarily require third-party eyewitness testimony. In another recent Texas case, a defendant was convicted of solicitation and sentenced to 10 years in jail after he asked a 16-year-old friend to have sex with him.
But when the friend’s grandmother suddenly came home, the defendant quickly tried to hide. The grandmother found him in the bathroom and called the police. At trial, the judge deemed the testimony of the grandmother and the police officer who responded to the call sufficient “corroboration,” even though neither actually saw the defendant ask his friend to have sex.
Get Help From a Collin County Criminal Lawyer
As these examples show, it is very easy to get caught up in a solicitation charge. And the consequences can be quite severe. A solicitation offense is treated as “one category lower than the solicited offense,” although it may be charged as the same category if the defendant is believed to be a member of a “criminal street gang.”
If you live in Collin County and have been charged with criminal solicitation of a minor, you must be prepared to defend yourself in court. An experienced Collin County criminal defense attorney can assist you at every stage of your case. Call the offices of Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC, at (972) 369-0577 to speak with one our attorneys right away.