Communication With A Minor For Immoral Purposes

What is Communication With A Minor For Immoral Purposes also known as CMIP?

Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes, or CMIP, is a charge that covers communication (both verbal and electronic) between an adult and a minor that is sexual in nature.  CMIP is often used as a plea bargain offense, since there is the possibility of no jail time upon conviction.

What are the punishments for conviction of CMIP?

CMIP is a gross misdemeanor, with a maximum possible punishment of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine.  There is no mandatory minimum sentence upon conviction, except for ten years of sex offender registration.  In 2013, the CMIP statute was amended so that persons communicating with minors “through the sending of an electronic communication” is risking a Class C felony.

Do the same laws and punishments apply if communicating with older teenagers (16-17 years old)? 

The CMIP statute is meant to protect minor children, which is any person under the age of 18.  I have fielded many questions from clients and potential clients about this crime in comparison to Washington State’s age of lawful consent, which is 16.  All ask the same basic question: “do you mean I can have sex with a 16 year old, but I can’t talk to her!?!”  To put it bluntly, an adult is risking their future and their freedom by ‘fooling around’ with a minor, no matter if there is verbalization or action consistent with consent.

Could a 18 or 19 year old really go to jail for talking to his 16 year old girlfriend?

In theory, yes.  There are absolutely no exceptions in the CMIP statute to cover these types of consenting sex talk or sexual activity situations.  In reality, prosecutors often tell me it is ‘doubtful’ a case like this would get filed due to the opinion that the age distinction between the participants is relatively small.  Many see an 18 or 19 year old as a ‘peer’ of a 16 year old.  Often this age disparity could be seen in a situation where a high school senior dates a junior. But the threat of criminal charges are real.

But what about a sexual relationship that has indeed been consensual? 

The threat of criminal charges are present, regardless of consent. The CMIP statute doesn’t provide an excuse for the adult participant.  The CMIP statute is a “strict liability” crime.  If one gets caught, CMIP has been committed.  There is no defense by saying “she started it” or “she wanted it.”

What should I do if I’ve been arrested for or charged with CMIP?

The most important thing to remember if you have been contacted by law enforcement for questioning is DO NOT GIVE A STATEMENT OF ANY KIND.  Politely decline to answer ANY questions.  If you have been contacted by law enforcement to give a statement, let them know that you will be in contact with your attorney and do not wish to provide any information at this time.  If you have been arrested, immediately request to speak with your attorney.    If you have not retained counsel at the time of your arrest, you may ask to speak with a public defender.

As soon as you have been contacted by law enforcement or released after an arrest, you need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.  DO NOT WAIT.  Many people wait until they have been charged with a crime.  Your best opportunity to have the case dismissed outright will have come and gone if charges are already filed.  There is much that can be done to put you in a better position while a case is being investigated and is in “pre-charge” status.

Do not attempt to destroy or delete any electronic communications (i.e. emails, texts, social media posts).

Have you been arrested or are under investigation for CMIP?  I have worked on countless CMIP cases in the past and would welcome your call to discuss your case.