House Bill 156, introduced by Rep. Jay Neal, R-LaFayette, will make it unlawful for a person to contact the parents of a child for the purposes of child molestation and other sexual-related offenses using an online service.
The bill was requested by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, according to Neal, to close a loophole to include the solicitation of a child’s parents or guardians by someone online.
The current law states it is only unlawful to solicit the child or someone the person believes is the child.
“When laws are written, they are written for present times,” Neal said. “The law has to be adjusted.”
Anyone convicted could be sentenced to serve from one to 25 years in prison and pay as much as a $25,000 fine. In addition, the computer could be seized.
The exception is if the child in question is 14 or 15 years old and the person is no more than three years older than the child.
The crime would then be a misdemeanor of high and aggravated nature and if convicted, a person could be sentenced to serve up to a year in the county jail or other county facility and must pay as much as a $5,000 fine.
The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee and is in the Rules Committee.
“It should be on the floor before crossover day,” Neal said.
Crossover day is Day 30 of the 40-day General Assembly, the deadline for legislation to have passed at least one of the chambers — or it dies for the year. Tuesday will be the 29th day of the session, but the Legislature has not yet determined its next meeting day after that.
If HB 156 is passed by the House, it must be passed by the Georgia Senate before it goes to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.
The bill would take effect July 1 of this year.