Travel for Sex with a Minor
Many Americans travel to foreign countries in areas such as Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe for a variety of reasons. If, however, a sexual relationship ensued with a minor during the time abroad, the United States Attorney’s Office could investigate and later prosecute a person for traveling to a foreign country for purposes having sex with minors.
Federal statutes governing "sex tourism" include:
18 U.S.C. § 2423(d): Travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct
18 U.S.C. § 2423(c): Engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places
18 U.S.C. § 2423(d): Ancillary Offenses
18 U.S.C. §§ 2251(c) and 2260(a): Production of Child Pornography outside the United States
18 U.S.C. § 1591: Sex Trafficking of children by force, fraud, or coercion
18 U.S.C. § 1596: Additional jurisdiction in certain trafficking offenses
Federal law provides “extraterritorial jurisdiction” over certain sex offenses against children. Extraterritorial jurisdiction is the legal authority of the United States to prosecute criminal conduct that took place outside its borders.
Section 2423(c) of Title 18, United States Code, prohibits United States citizens or legal permanent residents from traveling from the United States to a foreign country, and while there, raping or sexually molesting a child or paying a child for sex. Citizens can be punished under this law even if the conduct they engaged in was legal in the country where it occurred. For example, if an individual traveled to a country that had legalized prostitution, and while they were there they paid a child for sex, that individual could still be convicted under this statute. The penalty for this provision is up to 30 years in prison.
Section 2423(b) of Title 18, United States Code, is a similar provision. Section 2423(b) makes it a crime for United States citizens or legal permanent residents to travel from the United States to a foreign country with the intent to engage in illegal sexual conduct with a child such as rape, molestation, or prostitution. The difference between Section 2423(b) and Section 2423(c) is that Section 2423(b) statute requires proof that the defendant had formed his criminal intent at the time he began to travel. The penalty for this offense is also up to 30 years in prison.
Finally, Section 2423(d) makes it a crime to be what is known informally as being a “child sex tour operator.” This statute makes it an offense to profit by facilitating the travel of U.S. Citizens or legal permanent residents, knowing that they are traveling for the purpose of engaging in illegal sex with a minor. The penalty for this offense is up to 30 years in prison.
Given the severity of sentences for this type of offense, it's critical to call me if you are under investigation for a sex tourism charge. There may be effective defenses you can avail yourself of. For instance, the Government has to prove, in 2423(b) cases at least, that a defendant have a formed, specific intent to engage in sexual acts with a child before he (or she) began to travel.
If you or a loved one is arrested and charged with a Federal sex tourism crime, please call our 24-hour telephone number 305-461-1066 to set up an appointment and free consultation so we can assess your particular case and provide you with the best legal advice on how to proceed. Be assured that our conversation is private and is protected under attorney-client privilege.
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