Luring Minors by Computer or Other Electronic Means

Do you need a North Dakota criminal defense lawyer for a luring minors by computer or other electronic means charge? Often the result of misunderstandings, police sting operations, and Craigslist and Facebook scams, being accused of the crime of luring minors by computer or other electronic means in North Dakota can result in serious criminal penalties. If you have been accused of such a crime, a North Dakota criminal defense attorney is best positioned to help assert your defense. This sex offense is serious, carrying the potential of serious prison time, sex offender registration under North Dakota law, supervised probation, and potential fines and restitution.

Understanding the Crime of Luring Minors by Computer or Other Electronic Means in North Dakota

The North Dakota Criminal Code defines the crime of luring minors by computer or other electronic means into two parts. Those two parts, which define the crime, contain five elements. This law can be difficult for the average defendant to understand. However, the five elements are, essentially, as follows:

  • The first element is that a communication is made with a person the defendant believes to be a minor
  • The second element is that the communication is made via a computer or other electronic means
  • The third element is that the communication implicitly/explicitly discusses or depicts sexual content
  • The fourth element is that the communication attempts to importune, invite, or induce the person he/she believes to be a minor to perform some sexual act
  • The fifth element is that the act the person attempts to get the minor to perform is for the purpose of that person’s benefit satisfaction, lust, passions, or sexual desires

Of course, this is not the actual language of the law. The actual language of the law provides the means by which an adult must send a communication in order to be convicted of luring minors by computer or other electronic means in North Dakota. Although the explanation of such communications is detailed, it essentially boils down to any implicit or explicit communication by computer, cellphone, social media, email, fax, social media, or any other form of electronic communication is illegal:

  • The adult knows the character and content of a communication that, in whole or in part, implicitly or explicitly discusses or depicts actual or simulated nudity, sexual acts, sexual contact, sadomasochistic abuse, or other sexual performances and uses any computer communication system or other electronic means that allows the input, output, examination, or transfer of data or programs from one computer or other electronic device to another to initiate or engage in such communication with a person the adult believes to be a minor

But more than a simple communication is required. This is where the law’s second part comes into play. Per the law, the communication must create an opportunity for, induce, or invite a sexual action or interaction. The North Dakota Criminal Code elaborates further on the second part of the crime of luring minors by computer or other electronic means:

  • By means of that communication the adult importunes, invites, or induces a person the adult believes to be a minor to engage in sexual acts or to have sexual contact with the adult, or to engage in a sexual performance, obscene sexual performance, or sexual conduct for the adult’s benefit, satisfaction, lust, passions, or sexual desires

Criminal Penalties for Luring Minors by Computer or Other Electronic Means in North Dakota

The crime of luring minors by computer or other electronic means in North Dakota may be a misdemeanor or felony offense. When it comes to the crime of luring minors by computer or other electronic means, the differentiating factor between the Class A Misdemeanor, Class C Felony, and Class B Felony level of the offense is the age of the victim relative to the age of the defendant. Each level of the offense is a sex offense with special conditions of probation and required periods of supervised probation being applicable.

Class A Misdemeanor Luring Minors by Computer or Other Electronic Means. Luring minors by computer or other electronic means is a Class A Misdemeanor if the adult is less than twenty-two years of age and reasonably believes the minor is age fifteen to seventeen.

Maximum term of imprisonment360 days
Period of probation2 to 4 years of supervised probation
Maximum fine$3,000
Sex offender registration required?Yes

Class C Felony Luring Minors by Computer or Other Electronic Means. Luring minors by a computer or other electronic means is a Class C Felony if the adult is less than twenty-two years of age and reasonably believes the minor is under age fifteen, or the adult is twenty-two years of age or older and the adult reasonably believes the minor is age fifteen to seventeen

Maximum term of imprisonment5 years
Minimum term of imprisonment1 year if defendant took substantial step toward meeting the minor
Period of probation5 to 10 years of supervised probation
Maximum fine$10,000
Sex offender registration required?Yes

Class B Felony Luring Minors by Computer or Other Electronic Means. Luring minors by a computer or other electronic means is a Class B Felony if the adult is twenty-two years of age or older and the adult reasonably believes the minor is under the age of fifteen.

Maximum term of imprisonment10 years
Minimum term of imprisonment1 year if defendant took substantial step toward meeting the minor
Period of probation5 to 10 years of supervised probation
Maximum fine$20,000
Sex offender registration required?Yes

Luring Minors by Computer or Other Electronic Means and Sex Offender Registration

Being convicted or pleading guilty to luring minors by computer or other electronic means will result in sex offender registration under North Dakota law. This is because the North Dakota Criminal Code mandates sex offender registration following a conviction or guilty plea in certain sex offense cases, including luring minors by computer or other electronic means. The level of the offense (misdemeanor or felony) is not considered.

Any person who is required to register as a sex offender in North Dakota will be subject to a risk assessment that will determine the length of time for which they must register. The periods of registration are 15 years for low risk offenders, 25 years for moderate risk offenders, and lifetime registration for high risk offenders.

How Luring Minors by Computer or Other Electronic Means Cases Occur

Most individuals accurse of luring minors by computer or other electronic means fall into two categories: those who fell for police stings in which law enforcement posed as a minor after communicating with the accused individual via a Craigslist ad or dating app and those who attempted to engage a minor to have sex with them after speaking with them via text, Facebook, Tinder, Instagram, email, or another digital platform. However, there are many ways a person can be accused of this crime. Here are some of the more common ways that individuals find themselves accused of luring minors by computer or other electronic means in North Dakota:

  • An adult communicates via text message with a minor and attempts to convince that minor to have sex with them
  • An adult requests nude or explicit photos from a minor or a person that they believe or appears to be a minor
  • An adult uses an online ad or personal service (e.g. Craigslist, Adult) to chat with an individual they believe to be an adult. Having sex is discussed. The individual they are communicating with then claims to be a minor. Despite this, the adult persists.
  • An adult attempts to convince a minor to have sex via a dating app or website (e.g. AdultFriendFinder, Tinder, Bumble, Facebook, Kik, Instagram, etc.)
  • An adult uses an online web forum or personals site to solicit a sex partner. They are then contacted by law enforcement posing as a minor.

Establishing a Defense in Luring Minors by Computer or Other Electronic Means Cases

Any sex offense can have serious repercussions for the defendant. But many cases have potential defenses that should be explored by an attorney. In cases involving luring minors by computer or other electronic means in North Dakota, examples of defenses to the crime may be as follows:

  • Calling into question the identity of the individual making the communications. This defense strategy is simple: the defendant challenges whether the prosecution can actually prove that the defendant was making the communications. In cases in which the prosecution has failed to traceback the communications or find personal identifying information, this defense is often the most effective.
  • Entrapment may be used as a valid defense. This defense alleges that law enforcement unlawfully entrapped the defendant, creating a situation that essentially compelled or induced the defendant to commit a crime.
  • Challenging the nature of the communications and/or shared content. By challenging the nature of the communication and/or shared content, a defendant may be able to relieve themselves of criminal liability for the crime of luring minors by computer or other electronic means. For example, if the message is interpreted by the prosecution as a request for a sexual relationship but that is not the reality.
  • Mistake of fact. A mistake of fact defense asserts that the defendant misunderstood something about the factual situation they were in and, even if they committed the act, they did not have the requisite mental state to commit the offense. This defense can be difficult in luring minors by computer or other electronic means cases.

A defendant should not attempt to assert defenses without a lawyer. Consent is not a defense to luring minors by computer or other electronic means in North Dakota. However, some of the aforementioned defenses are effective when asserted properly. This is one of the many reasons why having a North Dakota criminal defense lawyer for your luring minors case is so important.

North Dakota Criminal Defense Lawyer for Luring Minors by Computer or Other Electronic Means Cases

Facing charges for luring minors by computer or other electronic means? Then going without a North Dakota criminal defense lawyer who understands how to defend you is a foolish mistake. The sex offender registration alone is worse than the potential (and likely) term of imprisonment that can haunt a person for the rest of their life. Contact a North Dakota criminal defense attorney today to work towards protecting your future.