What Are Considered Internet Sex Crimes?

May 17, 2024

Due to the rise in online technologies, a vast array of platforms and means have emerged to share information over the Internet. However, the sharing and distribution of certain content or media over the Internet is illegal, and this has led to a surge in Internet sex crime charges over the past decade. It is vital to work with an experienced sex crimes attorney if you are facing associated charges or are unsure if you are breaking the law.

In order to avoid unnecessary investigations from law enforcement and other government agencies and ultimately being charged with a crime, it’s necessary to understand what sex crimes are generally defined as, as well as give concrete examples. By understanding the basics of what makes up Internet sex crimes and what the potential penalties could be, you can protect your rights and work with an attorney to defend yourself if you are facing charges.

Defining Internet Sex Crimes

In general, Internet sex crimes are defined as any sex crime that is carried out using the means of the Internet. With the emergence of the Internet and online technologies, state and federal governments created new legislation to define Internet sex crimes clearly.

However, because this technology is constantly evolving, the legislation associated with it is changing in parallel. Such legislation is mostly in place to protect children, who could easily fall victim to Internet sex crimes, such as child pornography manufacturing and distribution.

Examples of Internet Sex Crimes

While Internet sex crimes are loosely defined as sex crimes committed through the use of the Internet, there are Internet sex crimes that tend to be more commonly committed, such as child pornography sex crimes.

Child Pornography

Child pornography is defined in Virginia to be the visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexual acts. Under federal law, it is defined as a person under 18 being displayed visually in a sexual or sexually suggestive manner.

Child pornography crime categories include the production, possession, and distribution of such material, all of which can be carried out through means of the Internet. For example, child pornography can be produced online by live-streaming illicit sexual acts with a minor. In some cases, individuals are charged with the distribution of child pornography after streaming a video or downloading a file, as such acts require the “reproduction” of the material.

Sex Trafficking, Sex Solicitation and Sexting

A majority of the transactions for sex trafficking cases are taking place on the dark web or other similar Internet sites that are difficult to regulate and track. Luring and baiting individuals to ultimately put them in a vulnerable situation where they can traffic them can also occur online via social media, messaging applications, and email.

Sex solicitation is generally not illegal and is the act of two consenting adults deciding where they are going to meet up for sexual activities. However, if the sex solicitation involves financial suggestions or transactions, then this is considered the solicitation of a prostitute. Furthermore, solicitation of a minor is also illegal, and if done over the Internet, it is an Internet sex crime.

Sexting is not illegal, but it is illegal to exchange sexually explicit words, images, or media with individuals who are under the age of 18. Such crimes can be charged even in cases in which the defendant was not aware of the minor’s age. If you are facing Internet sex crimes, such as sexting with a minor, it is critical to contact a sex crimes lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and start mounting a defense.


Q: What Is an Internet Sex Crime?

A: An Internet sex crime is loosely defined as a sex crime that is carried out via means of the Internet. Examples include using the Internet to view, download, or share child pornography, soliciting sex from minors or prostitutes online, using the Internet to carry out sex trafficking transactions, and sextortion. Internet sex crimes have severe criminal penalties, such as long periods of imprisonment, large fines, and required registration as a sex offender.

Q: What Is Sextortion?

A: Sextortion is a rising Internet sex crime that has been increasing in popularity, which involves either blackmailing individuals or abusing a situation of power to get sexual favors or money. In the case of blackmail, an individual who has ownership over certain pornographic images of a person could threaten to release them if a certain act is not carried out.

Q: What Is Obscene Internet Contact with a Child?

A: Obscene contact with children over the Internet involves illicit or suggestive sexual behavior through communication networks on the Internet, such as social media sites or messaging applications. This could include sharing sexually explicit videos or images with a person who is under the age of 18 or even suggestive language of a sexual nature. If you are under investigation for obscene Internet contact with a child, it is critical to get in touch with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Q: What Are the Most Common Internet Sex Crimes?

A: The most common Internet sex crimes can vary based on technological trends and location. However, solicitation of a minor or prostitute over the Internet, underage sexting, and sextortion are sex crimes that are commonly charged and convicted in the United States. Such claims are complex in nature, as the legal framework created for sex crimes was not originally written to be adapted to rapidly changing technologies and behavioral patterns.

A Sex Crimes Attorney from Our Firm Can Help You Today

If you are being charged with an Internet sex crime, you are likely facing serious potential penalties such as long prison sentences, hefty fines, registration as a sex offender, and a period of surveillance by law enforcement upon release. Therefore, it is critical to get adequate legal representation as soon as possible.

Reach out to a compassionate and knowledgeable Internet sex crimes lawyer at Johnson/Citronberg, PLLC, today to get started developing a strong defense strategy and ensuring your rights are protected.

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