18 USC Section 2423
Federal criminal law prohibits a wide range of activities relating to transporting people and/or traveling across state lines or internationally for the purpose of engaging in illegal sexual activity. Specifically, 18 U.S.C. § 2423 prohibits four types of activities and carries very severe penalties.
First, 18 U.S.C. § 2423 makes it a felony punishable by a minimum of 10 years in prison (and by as much as life in prison) to “knowingly transport an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years in interstate or foreign commerce… with intent that the individual engage in prostitution, or in any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense.” This provision obviously applies to those engaging in the human trafficking of underage prostitutes, and also potentially applies to an adult who drives or attempts to drive a minor across state lines so that he or she can have sex with that minor in another state. It could also apply to people who purchase bus or plane tickets for minors to travel into the U.S. or across state lines for the purpose of engaging in illegal sex.
Next, 18 U.S.C. § 2423 makes it a federal felony punishable by up to 30 years to travel across state lines, into the United States, or even to a foreign country (if that person is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident) for the purpose of engaging in illegal sexual conduct. So, this means that it is illegal to travel across state lines to hire a prostitute or have sexual contact with an underage person. It also means that it is illegal for a citizen or permanent resident to travel to a foreign country to hire a prostitute or have sex with a minor. Interestingly, a person can be guilty of this crime without actually engaging in the sexual conduct, so long as the prosecutor can prove the illegal purpose of the travel. This charge is frequently brought in cases involving undercover sting operations, in which the supposed prostitute or underage person is actually an FBI agent.
18 U.S.C. § 2423 prohibits illegal sexual intercourse after having traveled across state lines or into the U.S., or even to a foreign country (if that person is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident). Occasionally, U.S. citizens get arrested returning to the United States because Customs officers discover incriminating photographs or videos during border inspections of their laptops, phones, or cameras. Most people are surprised to learn that their electronic devices can be searched at U.S. Customs without probable cause or a warrant. Registered sex offenders returning from known “sex tourism” countries should be prepared to have their devices inspected at the border.
Finally, 18 U.S.C. § 2423 makes it a federal felony punishable by up to 30 years to arrange for the interstate or international transport of people for the purpose of engaging in illegal sex (i.e. prostitutes or minors), for commercial advantage or private financial gain. This could apply not onto the pimp or chief of a human trafficking operation, but also to the driver of a vehicle.
If you or a loved one have been arrested or accused of violating 18 U.S.C. § 2423, you should strongly consider hiring the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP. In particular, Matthew Galluzzo is a former Sex Crimes prosecutor and acknowledged expert in the field. Mr. Galluzzo has earned dozens of difficult dismissals and numerous trial acquittals for individuals charged with serious sex crimes. He is routinely interviewed by television and radio news outlets regarding sex crimes investigations, and was even once hired by the government of South Africa to fly there to train its law enforcement officers about modern rape investigation techniques. Plainly put, his talent and qualifications for these sorts of cases are beyond dispute, and he may be able to help you.