Rhode Island Solicitation of a Minor Defense Attorney

What is Solicitation of a Minor?

Solicitation of a minor is defined as any form of a defendant inquiring or engaging in conversation with a minor, which includes the defendant asking (or soliciting) to meet the minor with the intention of any type of sexual engagement. Under both state and federal law, it is a crime for an adult to solicit a minor to engage in any sexual act. 

In Rhode Island, the typical adult defendant is arrested as part of a State Police or Homeland Security sting operation wherein police play the role of a 14 or 15-year-old online. 

Police will actively search adult websites for users and even post their own ads offering sex.  After initial introductions, police advise the adult user of their underage status and ask if it is okay.  Once aware of the minor’s age, even though the minor is not real, police are halfway to making the arrest.  Next comes the solicitation part where police will ask “what do you want to do.” 

Once the adult user mentions some form of sexual activity, a meeting is arranged, and the adult is arrested.  Even if the adult does not show for the meeting, police can pursue an attempt charge which carries the same penalty.

Real Results

Solicitation of a Minor charge dismissed.  Client was caught up in a statewide sting operation.  A close review of the dialogue indicated that client did not actually solicit sex but instead went along with the undercover agents’ suggestions.  Case was dismissed and expunged from client’s criminal history.

Solicitation of Minor charge amended to a non-sex offense.  Client was arrested by undercover police agents posing as a minor online.  After a thorough investigation, including the submission of mitigation materials demonstrating client’s cognitive limitations, the charge was amended to a non-sex offense for a probation sentence.  Client is now not required to register as a sex offender.

Common Defenses for Solicitation of a Minor

The two key defenses for solicitation of minor cases are knowledge and intent.  Did the defendant have knowledge of the minor’s age?  In addition, did the defendant solicit a sexual act or did the police do the solicitation?

Romeo & Juliet Defense

In Rhode Island, there is a Romeo and Juliet exemption for consensual sex between two minors who are 14, 15, 16, or 17. But a minor younger than 14 may not consent to having sex, even with someone close to that minor’s age.


Under Rhode Island state law, solicitation of a minor is a five-year felony and carries with it the requirements of sex offender registration and community notification.  Under federal law, solicitation of a minor is a 10-year mandatory prison sentence along with the requirements of sex offender registration and community notification at the state level. 

If you are being investigated, charged or arrested for child pornography in Rhode Island, Massachusetts or Connecticut, please contact Criminal Defense Attorney John E. MacDonald at 401.421.1440 now for a free consultation.