Enticing a Child
Understanding Child Enticement Charges
In most states, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors have enormous resources to investigate and prosecute sex offenses and protect children from sexual predators. With the manpower, money, and other tools at their disposal, state and federal agents operate undercover – usually online – and by assuming another’s identity to expose alleged perpetrators.
A commonly investigated crime by both Texas and federal law enforcement is enticing a child or “minor.” The term “enticement” usually means luring children to engage in child pornography or other sexual activities involving a minor – often committed online.
If you have been unfairly charged for enticing a child because of sting operations, the consequences can be life-altering. The best possible way to combat these accusations or charges is to retain a specialized criminal lawyer who is both knowledgeable in this area of law and has decades of experience defending and trying all types of sex offenses at both the state and national level.
In Texas, enticing a child or “minor” may be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of the case. This offense is also a federal crime, meaning an individual “caught” by undercover agents for allegedly enticing a child can be prosecuted under both Texas and federal laws.
What is meant by “Enticing a Child” in Texas Law?
The statutory provision for this offense is in Chapter 24 of the Texas Penal Code as an “Offenses Against the Family.” The enticement of a child in Texas focuses upon interference with the lawful custody of a minor, which for the purposes of § 25.04 in the Texas Penal Code means a child younger than 18 years of age. Under Subsection 25.04(a), the offense is briefly defined as follows:
(a) A person commits an offense if, with the intent to interfere with the lawful custody of a child younger than 18 years, he knowingly entices, persuades, or takes the child from the custody of the parent or guardian or person standing in the stead of the parent or guardian of such child.
When is Enticing a Child Considered a Sex Offense?
Although Texas codifies “child enticement” law very briefly in the penal code, the term is often used in connection with other sex offenses with lengthier statutory provisions – child pornography, pandering, sexual abuse, prostitution, and online solicitation of a minor. These laws are complex and difficult to understand. Therefore, if you have been accused of enticing a child, it is important to understand that it is possible that charges filed against you may be included with one or multiple sex offenses involving a child.
What are the Potential Punishments for Child Enticement?
On its face enticing a child seems like a minor offense. In fact, enticing a child in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor offense – a violation that imposes a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines, if a person is convicted.
However, if a person commits this offense under § 25.04(b) of the penal code, and it is shown that the actor also “intended to commit a felony against the child” during the enticement, punishment is enhanced to a third-degree felony. In Texas, a person would then face sentencing of 2-10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000, or both, according to state law.
Search “child enticement news story in Texas” online, and you will likely come across media reports of people facing state and federal charges for enticement and additional sex crimes involving a child.
The FBI most often sees crimes against children begin when an adult:
- Forges a relationship with a young victim online and then later arranges to meet and abuse the child; or
- Coerces a child into producing sexually explicit images or videos through manipulation, gifts, or threats.
Under Federal Sentencing Guidelines, child enticement is also a violation of the law, but the penalties are more severe:
- a convicted person sentenced by a Federal Judge faces a minimum mandatory 10-year sentence without parole (for attempting) and up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Top-Rated Sex Crime Lawyers in North Texas
Barbieri Law Firm has been a reputable presence in North Texas criminal defense for over 20 years. Our Plano sex crime lawyers have a proven record of fighting relentlessly for every client falsely accused or charged with complex sex offenses to achieve successful outcomes in Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant Counties.
A 10-time Super Lawyer recognized by peers and Board-Certified Criminal Lawyer, Heather Barbieri is renowned as an expert in defending and trying sex cases. She and her team of lawyers are passionate advocates for those falsely accused. At Barbieri Law Firm, our lawyers won’t just defend you; they will attack your sex crime charges on all fronts. Contact us now to meet with one of our Plano attorneys.