Washington law says it’s a crime if you communicate with a minor for “immoral purposes.” Prosecutors sometimes charge the crime as a gross misdemeanor, and a conviction could result in up to one year in jail. However, if you communicated by electronic means, including simply sending texts or emails, the charge is elevated to a felony offense, which can result in a significant prison sentence. Either type of conviction requires registration as a sex offender. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you’re facing criminal charges involving a minor.
What are Communications with a Minor for Immoral Purposes?
RCW 9.68A.090 is the Washington statute that sets forth the crime of communications with a minor for immoral purposes. You commit this offense when you:
- communicate with an actual minor or someone believed to be a minor, and
- do so for immoral purposes.
For purposes of this law, “immoral purposes” means “the predatory purpose of promoting the exposure of children to and involvement in sexual misconduct”. While Washington law does not define “sexual misconduct,” it typically applies to almost any sex act with a minor.
Note that “communicate” under this statute can include both conduct and speech. Courts have said it doesn’t even matter if the speech was or was not directly communicated to the minor or understood by them.
What are the Penalties?
Communicating with a minor for immoral purposes is a gross misdemeanor under Washington law. The crime is punishable by:
- jail time of up to one year, and/or
- a maximum fine of $5,000.
Note, though, that a prosecutor can charge the offense as a class C felony:
- If you were previously convicted of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes,
- If you were previously convicted of a felony sexual offense, or if
- You sent the communications electronically (like a text or email).
A class C felony is punishable by:
- custody in prison for up to five years, and/or
- a maximum fine of $10,000.
A very serious additional consequence of conviction for communicating with a minor for immoral purposes is that you will be required to register as a sex offender, regardless of whether the conviction is for gross misdemeanor CMIP or felony CMIP.
Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?
Yes. People charged with this crime can challenge it with a legal defense. People often face charges under RCW 9.68A.090 after a police sting or some undercover operation. A defense in these situations is to show that you were entrapped. Entrapment is the defense that says you only committed a crime because the police lured you into doing so.
Entrapment only applies to overbearing official conduct, which is usually in the form of:
- flattery, or
You can also raise a defense that asserts the police violated one of your constitutional rights. For example, maybe law enforcement officers:
- coerced a confession, or
- conducted an unlawful search and seizure.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a communication with a minor charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced sex crime lawyers at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on criminal charges involving minors. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!