With online personals and dating pages proliferating, many people turn to internet activity as a way to meet others in Minnesota and around the world. Whether or not these connections ever become more than a cyber relationship may not matter to some. In fact, they may feel comfortable sharing personal information and getting into discussions involving graphic sexual language, even though they do not actually know who they may be talking to.

One Minnesota resident discovered the danger of trusting an online stranger when he was arrested, charged and convicted of a sex offense. The state’s Court of Appeals later acquitted him, after his attorney argued that he could not have been expected to know the girl’s age because he never saw a picture of her. She told him she was 16 years old, and he had no evidence to the contrary.

His conversation was originally deemed inappropriate and illegal by the court system because the girl was actually only 14. The state does not allow defendants to deny knowledge of a victim’s age, so he was unable to prove his innocence. However, the appeals court ruled that this statute was not valid as it related to the man’s online encounter.

Sex offender laws are designed to offer protection, but if they are applied in cases where they are not relevant, a person could be denied justice. An attorney may be able to provide representation for those who are facing severe penalties because of a legal technicality or poorly applied precedent.

Source: City Pages, “With kids who lie about their age, internet sex is no longer a crime,” Susan Du, Aug. 31, 2016

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