Internet and Cyber Sex Offenses

Allegations of illegal behavior involving electronic communications, photography, or video can be some of the most damaging and difficult to address as these materials can be seized by law enforcement and become damaging evidence of a crime. "Stings" created by law enforcement to trap individuals into criminal activity through use of electronic communication such as computer chat rooms and websites advertising sex with minors are prevalent and often high priorities for law enforcement.

Communicating with a Minor for Immoral Purposes (CMIP)

It is illegal for a person to communicate with a minor for immoral purposes. A minor is anyone under the age of eighteen. Immoral purposes are essentially communications of a sexual or obscene nature. CMIP is a gross misdemeanor unless the communication takes the form of an electronic communication or the person charged has previously been convicted of CMIP or a felony sex offense. In those cases, the crime is a Class C felony. Both the gross misdemeanor and felony version of CMIP require registration as a sex offender. Text and email communications are common forms of CMIP. Individuals often engage in innocent communications that become problematic as the subject matter becomes racier or suggestive. The adult is always responsible for their communications even if the younger person is instigating the suggestive subject matter.

Possession of Child Pornography/Sexual Exploitation of Children

Child pornography crimes encompass a wide range of conduct including viewing depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, possessing depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, or transmitting depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Most child pornography charges occur when someone has received images of child pornography through a web device. In some instances, individuals receive child pornography in "batches" of pornography when they have not actually sought child pornography. The transmission of these images can also be the basis for a Federal Sex Offenses [link].

Voyeurism

Voyeurism occurs when a person views, photographs, or films another person’s intimate areas in a place where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Today’s accessibility to electronic recording devices that are small and easily transportable can lead to serious trouble. For this reason many gyms and places where individuals are often unclothed have banned cell phones from locker rooms. The ease with which videos can now be taken may also lead people to engage in behavior that they later regret. Someone may consent to an intimate photograph then later change their mind and claim they did not give consent. Defending against this type of charge can be as difficult as defending against a rape case where consent is an issue.

Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking occurs where a person, with intent to harass, intimidate, torment, or embarrass any other person, and under circumstances not constituting telephone harassment, makes an electronic communication to someone that uses any lewd, lascivious, indecent, or obscene words, images, or language, or suggesting the commission of any lewd or lascivious act anonymously or repeatedly.

Sex Addiction

Addictions of many kinds contribute to criminal behavior. As addictions are not necessarily about the object of the addiction, an individual can experience addictive behavior in many forms and easily replace one addiction for another. Addictions that center on sex can be particularly detrimental because criminal behavior stemming from sexual acts has very severe consequences. The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity has defined sexual addiction as "engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others." In other words, a sex addict will continue to engage in certain sexual behaviors despite facing potential health risks, financial problems, shattered relationships, and criminal charges. Sex addicts can find themselves charged with crimes such as: indecent exposure, possessing child pornography, voyeurism, sexual assault, and rape. In many cases, the individual may not be aware their behavior is escalating. Possession of child pornography is a particularly concerning area of sex addicts who often frequently download pornography on their computer. Pornography loads in batches and often contains materials that the recipient did not intend to receive. Disproving the intent to view child pornography is a very difficult proposition. Michele can refer you to an appropriate therapist even if you have not been charged with a crime.