The MSNBC “to catch a predator” phenomenon has brought internet solicitation of minors into the spotlight. The Virginia Court of Appeals decided a case this week in which the petitioner claimed that Virginia’s anti-solicitation law was Constitutionally invalid. See Podracky v. Virginia., __ Va. App. _ (June 10, 2008).
Relying in large part on the logic of United States v. Williams (“Offers to engage in illegal
transactions are categorically excluded from First Amendment protection.”), the Virginia Court of Appeals held that the state could Constitutionally prohibit adults from engaging in speech that was intended to solicit a child into meeting them for a sexual act, as long as the adult knew, or had reason to believe, that the person on the other end of the chat room was a minor.