Child Prostitution Laws in the United States
Most law enforcement agencies define child prostitution as a minor under the age of consent performing sexual acts in return for anything of value and/or survival. However, a unified definition for child prostitution is complex because the act itself implies an individual decided to partake in the illegal activity. However, the perpetrator in this case legally cannot make that decision.
Because a minor cannot consent and an adult is generally exploiting the with threats, trafficking, and/or coercion, agencies place the guilt on the adult or adults manipulating or forcing the minor or minors to perform prostitution. Prosecution for these crimes is on a state-by-state case basis, where some focus on trafficking while others focus on the fact the victim is a minor.
Child prostitution allegations are serious, and you need an experienced defense attorney to help you traverse these charges. The federal lawyers at the Zoukis Consulting Group can defend you in court. Call us today for a free consultation.
Child Prostitution Laws Per the Department of Justice
As stated above, child prostitution laws vary by state. For instance, some states like California have laws where a minor cannot be charged with prostitution, but the client will be charged with several offenses.
However, the federal government has several laws in place that may apply to an offender:
18 U.S.C § 1591 – Sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud, or coercion
Statute 18 U.S.C § 1591 prohibits anyone knowingly recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining, or maintaining a minor (someone under 18 years of age) for a “commercial sex act.” The definition of the “commercial sex act” is both comprehensive and very simple; “any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.”
This statute states that the offender will receive no less than 15 years to life if the juvenile is under the age of 14 and no less than 10 years to life if the youth is under the age of 18.
18 U.S.C. § 2421 – Transportation generally
Statute 18 U.S.C. § 2421 encompasses prostitution trafficking in general. The statute states that an offender knowingly transporting any individual through interstate, foreign, or to any Territory or Possession of the United States will be charged with a criminal offense and shall be fined and/or serve no more than 10 years in prison.
18 U.S.C. § 2422 – Coercion and enticement
Statute 18 U.S.C. § 2422 focuses on coercion and enticement to commit an act of prostitution. The statute states:
Any offender that knowingly “persuades, induces, entices, or coerces” an individual to travel in interstate or foreign commerce or any Territory or Possession of the United States for the purpose of prostitution will see a fine and/or serve no more than 20 years in prison.
If an offender that knowingly uses any facility or means (mail, internet, etc.) to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce someone under the age of 18 years old for prostitution or any other sexual activity faces fines and/or imprisoned no less than 10 years to life.
18 U.S.C. § 2423 – Transportation of minors
Statute 18 U.S.C. § 2423 covers several instances regarding the transportation of minors for prostitution:
- Transportation With Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity
This section addresses those transporting a minor (under the age of 18) “in interstate or foreign commerce, or any commonwealth, territory or possession of the United States” for prostitution. The offender receives a fine and/or imprisonment for no less than 10 years in prison.
- Travel With Intent to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct
This section addresses an offender that travels “in interstate commerce or travels into the United States, or a United States citizen or an alien admitted for permanent residence in the United States who travels in foreign commerce” for illicit sexual activity with an individual under 18. Under this section, an offender is fined and/or serves no more than 30 years in prison.
- Engaging in Illicit Sexual Conduct in Foreign Places
This section addresses any “United States citizen or alien admitted for permanent residence” that travels or moves to a foreign country and engages in illicit sexual conduct can receive a fine and/or serve no more than 30 years in prison.
- It also includes offenders that facilitate travel as well as attempts and conspiracy.
18 U.S.C. § 2425 – Use of interstate facilities to transmit information about a minor
Finally, section 18 U.S.C. § 2425 addresses any communications an offender has, “using the mail or any facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce,” to transmit information such as name or electronic mail address for sexual activity with an individual under the age of 16. The offender will be fined and/or serve no more than 5 years in prison.
Child prostitution laws carry severe punishments for a good reason, and it doesn’t stop with the United States. Although countries worldwide prosecute offenders of child prostitution differently, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 34 protects children from “sexual exploitation and abuse, including prostitution and involvement in pornography.”
Contact an Experienced Child Prostitution Lawyer Today
If you are in need of assistance with a case related to child prostitution offenses, don’t hesitate to contact an expert at the Zoukis Consulting Group.
Our attorneys will provide you with the insight and legal advice necessary to your situation.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation on your case.
Published Feb 15, 2022 by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA | Last Updated by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA on Feb 15, 2022 at 12:24 pm