Between February and June of 2014, a 32-year-old Minnesota man began exchanging texts of a sexual nature with a 13-year-old girl who turned 14 during those few months. According to Madison.com, the two met through an online dating website, and the girl made her age known. The girl’s mother found the messages on the teenager’s phone, and she told investigators that her daughter had sent pictures of herself undressed and masturbating due to numerous requests from the man, who had allegedly posed as a 15-year-old boy.
The man was charged with exposing a child to harmful descriptions, causing a child to expose genitals and sexual exploitation of a child by filming. The case has prompted many a Minneapolis sexual assault defense lawyer and others to review how video communication is treated in the courtroom.
According to a court complaint, the man never sent any photos or videos to the teenager, telling the young girl that the camera on his computer did not work. As a Minneapolis sexual assault defense lawyer might do, the attorney representing the man argued that there was not probable cause to merit a charge of sexual exploitation because the defendant did not take the pictures himself. Further, she stated that two of the charges were unconstitutional, partly because the two people involved never had face-to-face communication.
A county circuit court judge disagreed, stating that the charges would stand because sexting or video communication can be just as effective as in-person communication. The judge determined that there is probable cause to believe that the man persuaded the teenager to send him sexually explicit material for his own use. Additionally, the judge ruled that based on the technology employed, the man could have reasonably ascertained that the girl was a child.
Sex crime penalties
The case will be tried in Wisconsin, which sets forth classifications ranging from misdemeanors to felonies for the charges brought against this man. If the case were tried in Minnesota, state laws assign a felony criminal charge to certain sex crimes ranking among five degrees. The penalties for a sex crime involving a minor can include the following consequences:
- Spending time in prison
- Paying a fine
- Mandatory sex offender registry
People who have been convicted of a sex crime often find that their criminal history prevents them from securing gainful employment or finding decent housing. Seeking the help of a Minneapolis sexual assault defense lawyer is key to reducing or dismissing charges and seeking a sentence that is fair.