“Sexting” with Minors and Extortion

By KevinMarcilliat, In Internet Sex Crimes, 0 Comments

Extortion of a minor

Since the founding of our firm, Marcilliat & Mills PLLC, we have represented clients facing all manner of allegations. Over the years, we have developed and dedicated a significant portion of our practice to defending those accused of Wilmington sex crimes, child pornography, and solicitation of a minor offense.

In modern society, the proliferation of smart-phones, dating apps, and online message boards has meant that we represent more and more clients accused of:

(1) Solicitation of a minor by computer, N.C.G.S. § 14-202.3 (Class H or G felony)

(2) Sexual exploitation of a minor (child pornography), N.C.G.S. § 14-190.16-17A (Class C, E, or H felony)

(3) Indecent liberties with a minor, N.C.G.S. § 14-202.1 (Class F felony)

Some of these crimes carry mandatory prison sentences, and all of these offenses can lead to prison sentences and sex offender registration.

A Common Fact Pattern

Recently (in the past year or so), a common fact pattern has emerged during our initial consultations with clients.

  • First, a client will meet a young lady through a dating app or online; the young lady’s profile will indicate that she is 18 or 19.
  • Next, conversations between the client and the female will turn to graphic “sexting.”
  • Then, the young girl will disclose to the client that she is in fact 15 or 16, and send nude photographs of herself to the client. Typically, these photographs will not contain a depiction of the female’s face. At some point, the client and the young lady will agree to meet for a sexual purpose.
  • Finally, before the meeting actually takes place, the young lady’s father will contact the client using the daughter’s phone, and state that he has seen the records of her daughter’s online conversations and photographs. The father will demand payment from the client in exchange for not reporting the client to the police.

Impact on Daily Life

If you have found yourself in a similar situation to the fact pattern described above, you are likely losing sleep and may have begun to research the possible consequences if you are reported to police. Perhaps you’ve sent hundreds of dollars – if not thousands – in the hope that this would give you peace of mind.

What You Can Do

When Marcilliat & Mills PLLC, is retained on these types of cases, we understand that the biggest concern our clients are facing is the fear of the unknown and of being arrested.

We believe that there are a number of steps that can be taken to ease a client’s fears in this situation. The reality is that many people who are contacted by “concerned fathers” demanding money are being scammed.

Are the Father’s Demands Genuine or Fraudulent?

he first action we take is to make a determination as to whether the father’s demands are genuine or fraudulent. Scammers in these types of cases seem to have a particular modus operandi. For example, when they demand money, they request multiple payments rather than a lump sum, and require that funds be sent via MoneyGram or similar service.

Is the Police Investigation Legitimate?

If a client has been contacted by someone purporting to be a law enforcement officer, we will contact that officer and that officer’s agency and confirm or refute the legitimacy of the investigation. If the investigation is legitimate, we will compile evidence to present to the investigator with the goal of avoiding prosecution. If the investigation is a scam, we will take action to put an end to the scammer’s harassment.

Cease and Desist

We may also contact the “father,” and direct him to cease and desist communications with our client. Whether the father is sincere or perpetrating a scam, in North Carolina, extortion is a felony.

  • A person can never offer to refrain from pursuing criminal charges in exchange for money.

This is true whether the underlying criminal allegations have merit or not. State v. Greenspan, 92 N.C. App. 563 (N.C. App. 1989) (upholding conviction for felonious extortion where defendant offered to refrain from pressing criminal charges against extortion victim in exchange for money, and noting that “even if the [extortion] victim were guilty, this would not entitle defendant to demand money in exchange for refraining from initiating criminal proceedings.”). In North Carolina, it is also unlawful to harass or stalk people for an unlawful purpose. See N.C.G.S. § 14-196.3(b)(1); N.C.G.S. § 14-196.3(b)(2); N.C.G.S. § 14-277.3A(c).

Regardless of what the underlying circumstances are, our clients are entitled to peace of mind that their legal rights – and their futures – are protected.