The internet is a place where any type of information you want is just a touch of the finger away. But as anyone who has used the internet can tell you, it has its traps. One of those is internet sex crimes.
Yes, as much great information as there is on the internet, it’s also become an avenue for criminal activity. Many different types of sex crimes are either facilitated by or occur on the internet. Here is what you need to know about internet sex crimes in North Carolina and the penalties you can face if you are found guilty of them.
North Carolina Internet Sex Crimes
Over the past several decades, as the popularity of online spaces has grown, state lawmakers have had to keep the laws in step with the internet. Many internet sex crimes laws have been passed as a result, and these laws oversee a large array of conduct.
Some of the most common internet sex crimes in North Carolina include:
Perhaps one of the most common internet sex crimes, child pornography, also called sexual exploitation of a minor under the law, prohibits the distribution, possession, and manufacture of child pornography. On the internet, law enforcement officers are able to identify the persons who download this type of content, usually on a network. Once the image is downloaded, law enforcement obtains the IP address and issues a search warrant. The charges can be a Class C, E, or H felony, depending on the level of the perpetrator’s involvement.
Disclosure of Private Images
This crime is one of the more recent additions to sex crimes in North Carolina. Under this law, a person cannot knowingly disclose images of another with the intent to intimidate, harass, humiliate, or demean them. In order to be found guilty, these elements must be proven in court:
- The identity of the person in the pictures can be ascertained from the images, or there is information provided that identifies the person in the images
- The intimate parts of the person were exposed in the photos, or they were engaging in sexual conduct
- The consent of the person in the images was not obtained prior to distributing the picture
- The person who shared the image got it without the permission of the person in the image or in a way in which they should have known the image was to remain private
This crime is a Class H felony when an adult commits it, but it is downgraded to a Class 1 misdemeanor if it is perpetrated by someone under the age of 18.
Dissemination to Minors
It is illegal in the state of North Carolina to provide anyone under the age of 16 with what is considered “obscene material.” This offense isn’t perpetrated entirely online like some other sex crimes. The common use of the internet makes committing this offense a lot more frequent than it used to be.
In general, under the law, material is considered to be obscene if:
- It describes or depicts sexual conduct in an offensive way
- The average person would find that it appeals to a lascivious interest in sex
- It lacks any sort of scientific, artistic, literary, or political value
- It is not material protected by the constitution
This can be a Class I felony in North Carolina.
Solicitation of a Child by Computer
It is illegal in North Carolina for someone to use a computer to arrange an illegal sex act with someone under the age of 16 if they perpetrator is at least five years older. It’s important to note that, under the law, the person who alleges to be the victim doesn’t have to really be under the age of 16. The perpetrator only needs to believe that they are. This is in place because it allows law enforcement to conduct operations where they pose as underage children online and talk to adults.
This crime is a Class H felony, but it can become a Class G felony if the adult meets with the child. Class H felonies are penalized by as many as 3 months in prison, while Class G felonies are penalized with up to 47 months in prison.
Internet Sex Crimes
Being accused of an internet sex crime is a serious matter. If you are convicted, then you not only face harsh prison sentences – but also will have to register as a sex offender, so it can impact where you live and work for the rest of your life.