Here in Texas, law enforcement often has their eye directed towards identifying and charging people they believe are engaged in improper conduct online. In fact, the Texas Attorney General's Office was designated as the ICAC Task Force for the South Texas Region in 2006, working with the U.S. Department of Justice to aggressively seek out those believed to be engaging in sex crimes. Depending on the alleged activities, those accused may be prosecuted in either state or federal court.
Recently, the Texas Attorney General announced charges levied against 36 Texans suspected of committing internet-based sex crimes. Of the group, 16 are facing charges related to the possession of child pornography while 15 are alleged to be involved in the online solicitation of a minor. The remaining five charged apparently used social networking to chat with and proposition children. In total, 20 people suspected of using online advertisement or social networking to connect with minors have been arrested by the Cyber Crimes Unit officers since May 2012.
While the Attorney General is championing the efforts, the potential evidence the prosecution has acquired against those accused remains unclear. In cases involving online interactions, the alleged facts often hinge on subjective issues like intent. Despite the aggressive nature taken by the prosecution, charges are only the beginning of the legal process.
Those convicted of such crimes may face stiff penalties. Fortunately, individuals facing sex crime charges will have the opportunity to present a defense to challenge the prosecution's case. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, a full analysis of the available evidence and thorough review of the case can help build a strong case aimed at the best possible outcome. Despite the strong story presented by law enforcement officials, those charged with sex crimes here in Texas - including the 36 recently announced - should know that they will have the opportunity to present a zealous defense.
Source: Houston Chronicle, "Texas cyber officers announce 36 arrests in child sex crimes," Robert Stanton, April 29, 2013