Internet Sex Crimes Attorneys in Fairfax, Virginia
Experienced criminal defense lawyers at The Sprano Law Firm, LLP have been successfully defending people accused of online solicitation and internet sex crimes in Fairfax and Northern Virginia for over 20 years.
If You Have Been Accused of Online Solicitation of a Minor, Child Pornography, or Any Other Computer Sex Crime
You need the best criminal defense attorney you can find, and one who has specialized experience in these types of cases. The lawyers at The Sprano Law Firm, LLP have been defending clients accused of child pornography, online solicitation, indecent liberties over the internet, and other kinds of online sex crimes for over 20 years. These are difficult cases, but we know how to get the best results possible under the facts of each case. Our attorneys have defended hundreds of people charged with internet sex offenses. We know how and where to look for potential weaknesses in the government’s case and how to help you choose the best strategy to defend against these charges.
Internet sex crimes charged in Virginia usually entail an allegation of some sort of online solicitation of a minor to engage in sexual activity, in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-374.3 (Use of electronic communications systems to facilitate certain offenses against children). This is an extremely broad code section that covers a wide range of conduct such as solicitation or proposing actual sexual contact, prostitution, or indecent exposure. While commonly referred to as “internet solicitation”, “online solicitation ” or “computer solicitation,” the statute actually prohibits the use of any electronic device for such purposes, including the use of cell phones to send text messages, so-called “sexting” crimes, or the use of any social media and messaging services such as WhatsApp, Snapchat, KIK, or Facebook Messenger.
Our internet sex crimes lawyers have experience with a wide variety of fact patterns that commonly arise with these types of charges. In the majority of cases, the individual on the other end of the alleged communication is not in reality a child at all, but rather an undercover police detective posing as a minor in an online sting operation. An entrapment defense to an online solicitation case is always a possibility to be explored, but Virginia law makes it very difficult to establish entrapment and the police are well trained in how to avoid it. Usually the main factual and legal issue in these cases is whether the defendant actually knew or had reason to believe that he or she was dealing with a minor. Unlike some other sex crimes against children, the internet solicitation of a minor is not considered a strict liability offense. If the defendant had no reason to believe the other party was underage (if they lied about their age, for example), there may be a good defense in some cases. Our attorneys will carefully review all of the government’s evidence, including text printouts, chat logs, and computer forensic evidence, to fully explore and develop every possible defense to your case.
When the recipient of the alleged online solicitation is actually underage, the defendant will often be charged with committing Indecent Liberties with a Minor, in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-370, in addition to the computer sex crime. With a real victim, the stakes are usually higher, and the consequences of a conviction more severe, but the same possible avenues for a successful defense to the charge remain. If the child lied about his or her age, and the defendant did not have a good reason to believe otherwise, a good criminal defense attorney may be able to successfully defend the charge.
Plea Bargaining Negotiations
The police have invested a great deal of resources investigating and prosecuting internet sex crimes, and they have gotten quite good at building a solid case. So if you find yourself reading this with the knowledge that you have already given them all of the evidence they will need to convict you, either through written communication or later as the result of a skillful police interrogation which enticed a full confession, take some solace from the fact that you are not alone. Probably over 95% of the people charged with these types of cases end up confessing before they ever consult with a lawyer. Our lawyers are used to fighting these types of cases. We will explore every avenue to challenge the admissibility of the confession – filing a motion to suppress the statement if possible. If that does not work, we will formulate a different strategy. Many of these cases carry the possibility of a lengthy mandatory minimum prison sentence if convicted, so our lawyers will try to strike a plea bargain to avoid that whenever possible. Then we will work with you and your family to build a compelling case in mitigation to present to the judge at sentencing.
Above all, we strongly believe that our job is not to judge, it is to help.
Avoiding Mandatory Minimum Sentences
for Internet Solicitation
If it is alleged that you are at least seven years older than the child in question, you are potentially facing a mandatory minimum prison sentence – usually of 5 years, depending on the specific type of internet sex crime involved. Your only hope of avoiding such a lengthy prison term may lie in the ability of your defense lawyer to negotiate a favorable plea bargain. Our attorneys are well respected by prosecutors as honest and worthy adversaries. We will employ an effective negotiating strategy on your behalf, and do everything we can to negotiate a plea bargain that avoids the mandatory minimum prison sentence for online solicitation cases. While there are no guarantees in this business, we have been successful in avoiding mandatory minimum sentences in the vast majority of these cases so far.
If you are convicted of an internet sex crime, we will work with you to present the best possible case in mitigation for sentencing. Depending on the facts of your case, our lawyers will present evidence and argument to convince the judge that you are not a threat to the children of society, that you are not a pedophile, that this was an isolated incident, and that your otherwise clean record of good citizenship can and should be taken into account. One thing we will not do is lie to you by telling you what you want hear just to get your business. If the evidence against you is strong, there is no doubt that you will face significant consequences both in the short and long term. Unless there is a problem with the government’s case, it is very unusual for these cases not to end up with a felony conviction that will require registration as a sex offender. No amount of wishful thinking can change the facts or the law, but good lawyering can and does have a significant effect on how much jail or prison time is imposed.
Hire a Lawyer You Can Trust
In these cases, the quality and effectiveness of legal representation can often be measured in years. Think about how much even one year of your life is worth to you. This is not the time to fall for a slick sales job or to trust your future to a cut-rate lawyer, or even one who – however well-meaning – is gaining their experience and “lessons learned” at your expense. Hire someone you can trust. The stakes are too high not to.
Our internet sex crimes defense lawyers have the experience, knowledge and ability to get the best result possible in these types of cases, but we will not make false promises or simply tell you what you want to hear just to get your business. Instead, we will give you an honest assessment of your case from the very beginning, so that together we can arrive at the most effective legal defense strategy moving forward.
If you have been charged with an internet sex crime in Fairfax or anywhere else in Northern Virginia, it is critically important to hire a defense lawyer you can trust, and who is trusted by others. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.