Nassau County Cyber Sex Crimes
Offer the last 20 years a new class of sex crimes has evolved known as cyber sex crimes. While in the past in order to commit a sex crime you generally had to be in the presence of your victim, now it has become fairly easy to commit a sex crime using the internet. Sex crimes involving children are all too common, as adults use the internet to befriend teens and younger children, eventually arranging to meet with them in order to commit child sexual assault, kidnapping and other crimes. Possessing or producing child pornography is also relatively easy with an internet connection and a webcam. Other types of sex crimes also occur online. For example, it is possible to solicit or promote prostitution online. These crimes, when committed using the internet are collectively referred to as cyber sex crimes. Because sex crimes and other types of illegal activity has made its way to the internet, law enforcement has responded by using high-tech crime-fighting tools and methods to identify and arrest those committing cyber sex crimes. However, in their zeal to crack down on cyber sex crimes, law enforcement does not always get it right. In other words, just because you have been accused of a cyber sex crime does not mean you will be convicted. If you have been accused of a cyber sex crime, it is important to get in front of the situation and immediately contact an experienced Nassau County Cyber Sex Crimes Lawyer who will review the facts of your case and work closely with you to resolve the case as quickly as possible.
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Any sex crime that can be partially or fully carried out or attempted via the internet can be characterized as a cyber sex crime.
Possessing a sexual performance by a child. It is illegal under both New York law and federal law to possess child pornography. Under New York child pornography is termed a sexual performance by a child. N.Y. Pen Law §§ 263.16, 263.11. Traditionally the term "possess" meant to physically having the images under your control, such as having photographs or videos in your home or place of business, or intentionally viewing them at some other location. However, it now also refers to accessing digital images on the internet. As long as you access it with the intent to view it, you have committed the crime of possessing a sexual performance by a child or possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child. An obscene sexual performance involves a performance that has no artistic, political, literary or scientific value and appeals to the public's prurient interest in sex. N.Y. Pen Law § 235.00(1)
In People v. LaBarbera, 2011 NY Slip Op 5222 (December 12, 2011), defendant told an undercover police officer that he has child pornography both at his home and workplace, and to viewing it online. LaBarbera was later charged with 22 counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child.
If you are found to be in possession of child pornography that you found on the internet, you may also face federal possession of child pornography charges. 18 U.S.C. § 2252. The federal statute is likely to be implicated any time images are downloaded from the internet.
Luring of a child. Luring is a crime that involves inducing a child to get into a vehicle, or to go into an isolated area or building in order to commit a crime such as compelling prostitution, incest, or promoting a sexual performance by a child. It is a Class E felony. N.Y. Pen Law § 120.70(1). For example, if you tell a child to come with you to see a puppy, or that the child's parents told you to pick up the child, and then you take the child someplace commit a sex crime, you would have committed the crime of luring.
In recent years there have been many cases when an adult becomes friendly with a child through a social media site or in some other way online and eventually gets the child to agree to meet in person. Upon meeting the child is sexually assaulted, kidnapped, or injured or exploited.
Generally, if your are charged with luring you will also face additional charges related to child sexual assault, kidnapping or prostitution.
Prostitution. Prostitution is a sex crime that involves paying someone for sex or agreeing to pay someone for sex. N.Y. Pen Law § 230.00. It is a Class A misdemeanor. This becomes a cyber sex crime if you go online and make the arrangements to meet with the prostitute, or if you actually pay for the services online. The crime of promoting prostitution can also be completed online. Promoting prostitution can include advancing prostitution by soliciting clients for the prostitute. In other words, promoting prostitution can include online marketing, thus making it a cyber sex crime. N.Y. Pen Law § 230.15.
Disseminating indecent material to minors. It is against the law to sell to minors indecent material. Indecent materials include any visual representation such as photograph, painting, book, magazine, sculpture or movie of a nude person or of a person engaging in sexual conduct or sadomasochistic conduct. If you do so via the internet or via any other means, you would have committed the crime of disseminating indent materials to minors in the second degree, and it would be a cyber sex crime. It is a Class E felony. N.Y. Pen Law § 235.21. It is also crime to use a computer to provide minors under the age of 17 with sexually explicit materials in order to invite the minor to perform sexual intercourse or other sexual activity. If you do so, you would have committed the crime of disseminating indecent material to minors in the first degree. It is a Class D felony. N.Y. Pen Law § 235.22What is the process if I am arrested for a cyber sex crime?
If the police believe that you may have committed a cyber sex crime, you will be arrested and taken into custody at the local police precinct. At the local precinct the arresting officer will complete initial processing, including taking your photograph and fingerprints. After initial processing at the local precinct, you will either be given a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) or you will be taken to a place called "Central Booking." DATs are issued at the discretion of the arresting officer and are generally only issued to those charged with misdemeanors and who do not have a prior criminal record. The DAT will state the date, time and place of your arraignment. You will be released from custody and will be required to show up for your arraignment. If you do not, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
If you are charged with a cyber sex crime that is a felony, or if the arresting office chooses not to issue a DAT for some other reason, then after initial processing you will be sent to Central Booking. Central Booking is located in the criminal court building in the county where you were arrested. For example, if you arrested for rape in the first degree in Nassau County, you will eventually be taken to Central Booking at 99 Main Street in Hempstead. You will remain in Central Booking until you are called for your arraignment hearing.
The arraignment is the first time that you will appear before the judge. At that time the charges against you will be read by the prosecutor. It is only then that you will learn all of the charges that you face. In preparing for your arraignment the prosecutor will have reviewed the facts of your case, the evidence against you, and your background. Based on that information the prosecutor will determine how to charge you. You will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
The next step in the arraignment hearing is the issue of bail. The judge will decide if bail is required. The judge may release you on your own recognizance, set bail or require that you be held without bail. The judge's decision will be based on his or her assessment of whether or not you are a flight risk based on both the allegations against you and your background. You will then learn when you must next appear in court. If you are released on your own recognizance or after posting bail, it is important to understand that you must attend every court hearing, otherwise the judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest.What are the consequences of a cyber sex crime conviction?
Prison. If you commit a cyber sex crime, the punishment that you will receive depends on several different factors. The most important factor is the classification of the crime you committed. For example, if you are convicted of disseminating indecent material to minors in the first degree, a Class D felony, you could be sent to prison for up to 7 years. N.Y. Pen Law § 235.22. On the other hand if you are convicted of prostitution, a Class A misdemeanor, you maximum sentence of incarceration is 90 days in jail. The specific amount of prison or jail time that you receive will also depend largely on your criminal history. For example, if this is your first offense, then the judge is more likely to give you a shorter prison term than if you are a repeat offender.
However, cyber sex crimes often are accompanied by other sex crime charges. For example, if you are accused of luring of a child, depending on the facts of the case, you may also be charged with rape, criminal sexual act or some other type of sexual assault. A prostitution charge may be accompanied by a sex trafficking charge. The more charges you face, the more severe the potential sentence you face. If you are convicted of violating a federal cyber sex crime statute, you could face 20 or more years in prison.
Probation. Of course, there is always the possibility that you may be sentenced to just probation, particularly if you are a first time offender and the crime is a misdemeanor. Because of the sex crime element, the probation term will be for either 6 or 10 years.
While on probation you will be required to follow a set of rules. If you break any of the rules, a judge could revoke your probation and resentence you to prison. The rules may include:
- You cannot commit a crime
- You will be subject to a warrantless search
- You will be subject to drug testing
- You must be employed
- You must support your family
- You must stay away from disreputable people
- You must stay away from disreputable places
- You must not drink alcohol excessively
- You must not use controlled substances
- You must pay restitution to your victim
- You must seek any ordered medical or mental health treatment
Fines, Fees and Restitution. There are several financial consequences to committing a cyber sex crime or any time of sex crime. The judge may order you to pay a fine of up to $500 for a Class B misdemeanor, up to $1,000 for a Class A misdemeanor conviction or up to $5,000 for a felony conviction.
You will also be required to pay certain fees including a "mandatory surcharge" of $300 for felonies and $175 for misdemeanors as well as a victim assistance fee of $25. N.Y. Pen. Law § 60.35. You may also be required to pay fees related to probation and post-release supervision of $30 per month as well as fees associated with sex offender registration.
Another financial consequence is that you may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim. Generally, the maximum amount of restitution is $15,000 for felonies and $10,000 for misdemeanors.
If you do not pay a fine, fee or restitution, you may be charged with an additional crime. However, the court may lower the amount of restitution or modify payment terms if you show the court an inability to pay.
Sex offender registration. If you are convicted of a cyber sex crime you will have to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). SORA requires sex offenders to provide a designated law enforcement agency with personal identifying information such as your name, aliases, home address, school address, the crime of which you were convicted, email addresses, online screen names, and your photograph. SORA also requires verification. This means that you must verify your address and other information on a regular basis. Under SORA you will have to register for a minimum of 20 years.
Criminal record. Regardless of what your sentence is, if you are convicted of a cyber sex crime you will have to live with having a permanent criminal record which will negatively impact several aspects of your life. With a simple background check a potential employer will quickly learn that you were convicted of assault. As a result, you may lose many opportunities. In fact, a criminal record is likely to prevent you pursuing a career in the military, childcare, education, security, nursing, and home healthcare. In addition, if you want to pursue your education and g to college or graduate school, you will find that there are schools that will deny you admission if you have a criminal record, or deny you campus housing. Furthermore, if you are not a citizen, a cyber sex crime conviction could result in your deportation under federal immigration law.
Being charged with a cyber sex crime or any sex crime could have a significant, negative impact on your life and the lives of your family members. You could end up in jail for multiple years, and you could end up having to register as a sex offender. For this reason, if you are facing a cyber sex crime charge you should immediately consult an experienced Nassau County Cyber Sex Crimes Lawyer who has the knowledge to help you fight the charges. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully representing clients in New York criminal courts charged with cyber sex crimes, as well as other types of sex crimes such as rape, sexual assault, sex with a minor, public lewdness, and indecent exposure. Contact us at 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of sex crimes in the following locations: