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What if a Minor Lies About Their Age Online?
(4 Types Explained)

Lying about your age when signing up for a social media account online is generally not illegal, and minors who engage in this activity are unlikely to face criminal charges. However, lying about your age online may violate the website’s Terms of Service, resulting in the website suspending or terminating the account.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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What is Online Solicitation of a Minor?

Online solicitation of a minor is the act of trying to persuade a child under the age of 16 to engage in sexual activity with an adult over the Internet or some other electronic means.

Online solicitation constitutes a number of behaviors that are intended to persuade, motivate, or otherwise encourage another person to do something specific online. This behavior can occur in online chat rooms, social media platforms, or online gaming platforms. It can take many forms, including:

  • Requesting sexually explicit videos
  • Sending sexually explicit messages
  • Asking intrusive questions about a child’s sex life
  • Making plans to meet in person for sex

Related Article: Solicitation of a Minor Defined

What You Need to Know if You've Been Charged With Online Solicitation of a Minor

The most important thing to understand about the crime of online solicitation of a minor is that it’s classified as both a felony and a state crime. That means you may be facing 2 different sentences from 2 different courts. The minimum sentence for federal charges is 10 years in prison; however, some states like Texas punish offenders with a minimum of 20 years.

The consequences of being convicted of online solicitation of a minor don’t end after you are released from prison. After reentering society, people charged with this kind of felony will find it harder to find gainful employment. They may also not be able to qualify for credit and may have a tougher time finding housing.

This is because felonies show up on a background check, which is run whenever someone tries to do any of these things. Taking the steps necessary to reclaim their old lives will be harder for people charged with felonies, especially serious crimes of a sexual nature.

Related Article: Can a Minor Get a Tattoo?

Is it a valid Defense to Claim You Didn't Know a Minor Was Lying About Their Age?

There are a number of exceptions where you can defend against sexual assault allegations based on your belief that the minor was of legal age to engage in sexual activity. However, this defense will not work if the minor was under 14 years old. With children this young, you will be unable to contend that you didn't know the minor’s age or that you reasonably believed they were of age.

Fortunately, you may have a defense if the minor was 14 years or older when the act took place. You need to prove that you reasonably believed the individual was an adult and must support this with corroborating evidence. For example, you may produce a fake ID, emails, text messages, phone messages, or other supporting evidence.

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