A tragic story emerged out of Falls Township recently, in which a teacher was facing several charges after assaulting a student. She was facing several charges, including statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and unlawful contact with a minor. While out on bail, she arranged to meet with the alleged victim and during that meeting, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Due to its shocking nature, the story quickly made headlines around the state, and the country. While many people are familiar with several charges of sexual assault, including statutory assault, others are not so well-known. This is particularly true of unlawful contact with a minor. So, what does this crime entail?
What is the Offense of Unlawful Contact with a Minor?
Unlawful contact with a minor is defined in 18 Pa. Code, Section 6318 as any person who contacts a minor or undercover officer intentionally, and for the purpose of:
- Committing any criminal offense outlined in Chapter 31, Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Code
- Open lewdness
- Distributing obscene materials or performances of a sexual nature
- Sexual exploitation of children
- Sexual abuse of children
Unlawful Contact of a Minor Does Not Require a Physical Meeting
While the latest news story did involve a physical meeting between the alleged victim and perpetrator, that is not a requirement for unlawful contact of a minor. No outside contact is necessarily for a person to be charged and arrested for this offense. For example, if a person emailed an explicit photo to a minor with a request that the two people meet for a sexual act, they could still face charges even if the meeting never took place.
Unlawful Contact of a Minor Does Not Require an Underage Person
With ‘minor’ right in the name of this offense, it makes sense that unlawful contact of a minor would require a person that is underage. It does not. It is not uncommon for law enforcement agencies to use a sting operation in which they meet people online while undercover pretending to be a minor. In this instance, a 35-year-old man may face charges for sending sexually explicit messages to someone they believed was a 14-year-old girl, but who was really an adult police officer.
Penalties for Unlawful Contact with a Minor
Sex crimes, particularly those involving children, are taken very seriously in Pennsylvania. A conviction for unlawful contact with a minor may result in up to seven years in prison, a requirement to register as a sex offender, and high fines. The stigma will also follow you around, and could impact where you live, work, and go to school.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Allentown Can Defend Against Your Charges
If you have been charged with unlawful contact with a minor, our Allentown criminal defense lawyers at van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, can defend against your charges so you avoid the harsh consequences. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.