The Internet allows you to converse with people worldwide. In some cases, you might end up chatting with a person under 18 years of age. During your conversations, you might wonder whether or not it’s illegal to talk to a minor online. The answer to that is it depends.
Technically, having a conversation with a minor is not a criminal offense. However, if the topics you’re discussing are sexual or you exchange sexually explicit images with them, you could be facing some serious consequences.
What Is Enticing a Minor?
To prevent children from being exploited, Connecticut, like various other states across the nation, has enacted a law that specifically prohibits communicating with minors for sexual purposes. The statute, known as enticing a minor, makes it illegal to knowingly try to get a minor to engage in prostitution or sexual activity.
It is an offense to use any type of “interactive computer service” for enticing a minor.
The law states that an interactive computer service is any of the following:
- Information services
- Access software provider
These services are those that allow multiple users to access a computer or the Internet.
What this law means is that if you log onto a social media platform and start a sexually explicit conversation with a person under 18 years of age, you could be charged with a felony. A sexually explicit conversation can be anything from setting up a meeting to engage in sexual activity or sending or requesting illicit photos.
But what if the person you were conversing with said they were 18 years of age or older? Is that still an offense? In some cases, yes. It depends on how old you believed the individual to be. For instance, say the person said that they were 21 years of age. However, at one point in the exchanges, they mentioned going out shopping for prom dresses. Because prom typically happens during junior or senior year of high school, it could reasonably be assumed that they are between 16 and 18 years of age.
It doesn’t matter if you used a computer or phone to converse with the minor; you could still be charged with enticement. Additionally, even if you didn’t log onto a social media site and had a sexually explicit conversation with a minor through text message, you’re committing an offense.
What Are the Penalties for Enticing a Minor?
The penalties you could face for having a sexually explicit conversation with a person under 18 years of age are severe. The class of charge and punishments depend on your criminal history.
If convicted of enticing a minor, you could face the following sanctions:
- First offense: Class D felony, which carries a prison sentence of up to 5 years
- Second offense: Class C felony, which is penalized by up to 10 years in prison
- Third or subsequent offense: Class B felony, which results in a maximum prison term of 20 years
If the child was under 13 years of age, the penalties become harsher. In this case, the offense is always a class B felony. The first time you’re convicted, your prison sentence cannot be reduced or suspended for 5 years. For a second and subsequent offense, the mandatory term of imprisonment is 10 years.