There are two varieties of online solicitation that are typically charged in Oklahoma. The first derives from the lewd molestation statute and the second falls under the soliciting sexual conduct statute.
Lewd Molestation Charges: The Most Common Offense
First, under the lewd molestation law found in the Oklahoma Statutes, Chapter 21, Section 1123, online solicitation consists of any written or electronically transmitted lewd or indecent proposal to any child under the age of 16, or believed to be under the age of 16, for the purpose of the child having unlawful sexual conduct or intercourse with any person. The online solicitation can be in the form of an individual using a chat room, social networks, email, mobile apps, or computer programs and the like to communicate. The District Attorney’s office will most often file charges under this law. The statute requires the child be under the age of 16 and the purpose of the communications to have the child engage in unlawful sexual conduct or intercourse.
Soliciting Sexual Conduct Is a Less Serious Offense
The more relevant and legally correct charging option can be found in the Oklahoma Statutes, Chapter 21, Section 1040.13a. This is called “soliciting sexual conduct or communication with a minor by use of technology,” and it does not require the purpose to be sexual conduct or intercourse. It also does not require the child be under the age of 16. This statute applies to all minors, regardless of age or whether they have achieved the age of consent.
This second option broadens the conduct that is considered criminal, because it criminalizes communication through an electronic device, computer, phone, etc., that is for sexual or prurient interest with any minor. This statute broadens the criminalization to children aged 16 and 17, broadens the language used, and eliminates the need the communication to specifically to get the child to engage in sexual conduct or intercourse with another person.
So why do prosecutors’ offices choose to go with the first option, which is more difficult to prove? The answer is: sentencing range. The lewd molestation charge carries a penalty of three to 20 years in prison, but the soliciting sexual conduct carries a penalty from no prison time to a maximum 10 years in prison.