The solicitation of a minor is a serious offense. The federal laws that govern and prohibit such activity are aggressive in terms of circumstances of the offense as well as in punishments for such convicted offenders (felons).
Solicitation of a minor can be a confusing term. The offense of solicitation of a minor includes the actual solicitation of minors (any underage person, in most situations), but you can also be arrested and convicted for soliciting a person you believed was a minor, even if he or she was above the legal age. You can even be arrested and convicted for the attempt to arrange a meeting with a minor, regardless of whether you actually met the person. If you are involved in the solicitation of a minor, you have options.
Furthermore, federal law makes it illegal for any person to pressure, recruit, entice, harbor, or otherwise solicit a minor for a sexual activity, commercial sexual activity, or sexual situation that can lead to or otherwise encourage sexual behavior by others, such as pornography.
Sex Crimes Attorney works with clients across the United States in understanding their rights, protection, and responsibilities when dealing with federal sex crimes.
We compiled the information below as an overview of solicitation of a minor, which is one type of federal sex crime. The information is intended as facts to begin understanding the federal laws that apply, but it is not legal advice. Only an experienced legal professional can provide legal counsel upon understanding the full extent of your unique situation.
Federal sex crimes: solicitation of a minor
Federal sex crimes include a range of sexual criminal activity that is made illegal by federal law and can be prosecuted in a federal court. Federal sex crimes are typically much more severe than sex crimes that a state may prohibit. For instance, many sex crimes that involve children are immediately elevated to federal crimes. Other sex crimes that may be governed on the state level, such as sexual assault or abuse, can trigger federal sex crime statutes if the offense is severe or aggravated.
Solicitation of a minor is one type of federal sex crime.
Importantly, even if you are prosecuted for a sex crime at the federal level, you may also be prosecuted in the state or states in which you violated local laws. This is not considered double jeopardy, as the U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled. You may be tried concurrently for one event or activity – the more severe crimes will be judged and punished by federal courts while the less aggravated crimes can be judged and punished by state courts.
Soliciting is not always used in a negative context, as solicitors may knock on your door or call you in attempt to sell something.
In a legal context, as applicable here, the act of solicitation is defined as the request, plea, enticing, asking, or otherwise persuading a person to commit an illegal act. In this sense, solicitation always implies an attempt to get someone to do something illegally.
Understanding illegal sexual activity and conduct
Federal laws make it illegal to engage in sexual activity and conduct with minors. Importantly, this is not limited to the act of sexual contact and/or penetration but includes two additional categories related to sexual activity.
Federal sex crimes define illegal or illicit sexual conduct as follows:
- A sexual act with any person aged under 18 years that violates criminal code Chapter 109A, which prohibits sexual acts in special maritime and territorial jurisdictions of the U.S.
- Any sex act involved a person aged under 18 years for commercial activity (as in, the buying or selling of sexual activity in exchange for money or other goods), such as but not limited to prostitution.
- Any depiction or production of child pornography, which can include photographs, film, pictures, videos and other materials that can be produced by digital, manual, or other means. Child pornography can include sexting, which is the use of text messages in a sexually explicit manner.
Federal laws that govern the solicitation of a minor
Federal laws prohibit the solicitation of a minor. Importantly, federal laws determine any criminals act involving children have some of the harshest mandatory punishments in the country.
The U.S. Criminal Code, Title 18, Chapter 117 has three sections that prohibit the solicitation of a minor: Section 2422 deals with Coercion and Enticement, Section 2423 covers the transportation of minors, and Section 2425 prohibits using interstate facilities to transmit details about a minor.
Section 2422: Coercion and enticement
The following are situations that break the laws regarding the coercion and enticement of minors:
- Section 2422 (a): Any person who knowingly persuades, coerces, entices, or induces a minor, or attempts to, to travel between states or countries in order to engage in prostitution or any other illegal sexual acts.
- Section 2422 (b): Any person who uses any facilities, including the mail and the internet, or any means of interstate or international commerce to knowingly persuade, coerce, entire, or induce a minor, or attempt to, to engage in illegal sexual activity.
Section 2423: Transportation of minors
The following are examples that break the laws regarding the transportation of minors:
- Section 2423 (a): Any person who knowingly moves a minor between states or countries in order to engage in illegal sexual activity.
- Section 2423 (b): Any person who travels between states or countries in order to engage in illegal sexual conduct with a minor.
Importantly, Section 2423 (e) indicates that any person who attempts and/or conspires to violate either of the sections above, even if such attempt was unsuccessful, can be punished to the same extent as someone who fully violated the section.
Section 2425: Use of interstate facilities to transmit information about a minor
This section prohibits any person who uses any facility (such as mail) or means of interstate or international commerce (such as the internet) to share or otherwise transmit personal details (such as name, address, social security number, phone number, email address, etc.) of a minor in order to entire, offer, encourage, or solicit other persons to engage in a sexual activity.
This section is unique in that the minor in this scenario must only be under the age of 16 years, not 18 years. Like previous laws in this field, however, unsuccessful attempts can be punished to the same extent as instances that attained the goal.
Parties involved in soliciting a minor
We often think that it is a man who solicits an underage woman. In fact, any person can be an offender. The offender need not be limited to only one person, either: any person who knowingly assists in the transit, coercion, or sexual activity can be implicated and prosecuted as well.
While the offending party or parties can be anyone, the law is very clear on who constitutes a minor: federal law defines a minor as any person who has not reached the age of 18. (There are a few exceptions to the definition of a minor, as in Section 2425, wherein any minor is under the age of 16.)
Common defenses for cases regarding illegal sexual activity
If you are dealing with a federal sex crime, there are some standard defenses that an experienced federal defense attorney may choose to argue on your behalf. Here are common examples:
- False accusation. This means that you did not commit the crime that you are accused of committing. It could be a question of parents or local law enforcement pressuring the minor to make an accusation or a situation wherein another person was using your online access (IP address, email, screen name, apps and accounts, etc.) or other use of facilities, perhaps in order to hide the activity.
- This means that some law enforcement agent or agents coaxed you into committing such a crime that you otherwise would not have committed without such persuasion, harassment, or other coercion.
- Good faith belief of age. This means that you had reason to believe the other individual was 18 years of age or older. The burden is on you and your attorney to establish reasonable proof. Importantly, this defense is not applicable if the allegations against you involve prostitution.
- Mental instability or insanity. This means that you were either temporarily or permanently insane or otherwise mentally unable to govern the situation and prevent your involvement in it.
Punishment for solicitation of a minor
Federal sex crimes are notorious for their severe sentencing guidelines. Many laws that prohibit such crimes spell out explicit terms of sentencing, such as a minimum and maximum number of years for imprisonment upon conviction.
For example, if you are convicted according to Section 2422 Coercion and Enticement (a), you can be fined and imprisoned for up to 20 years for knowingly persuading or otherwise convincing a minor to travel beyond a state or country with the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual activity. Under Section 2422 Coercion and Enticement (b), convicted offenders are subject to fines and/or imprisonment for a minimum of 10 years and up to a life sentence.
These minimum and maximum sentences are often for first offenders. In the case of repeat offenders, the sentences can be increased. Such sentences can also be increased in severity of the minor involved was egregiously young, such as under 14 or 12 years of age.
Punishment for any federal sex crime is often accompanied by a mandate to join the national sex registry. This registry compiles and syncs information of sex offenders across all 50 states. A listing on the national sex registry must be kept current for a pre-determined amount of time based on your conviction: 15 years, 25 years, or for life. The registry can have a severe impact on your ability to remain or find employment and on your freedom to keep a residence.
Understanding solicitation of a minor
Soliciting a minor can only be prosecuted at the state level. False. Soliciting a minor is a federal sex crime that violates U.S. laws. States can also maintain their own laws regarding sexual actions involving a minor. Someone who commits a sex crime can legally be prosecuted at both the state and federal levels, as less severe parts of the crime may violate state law, while more aggravated circumstances of the crime violate federal law.
The state’s age of consent defines a minor. False. For the purposes of federal sex crimes, the federal definition of a minor applies. In most instances, the federal definition of a minor is any person under the age of 18 at the time of the offense. In some circumstances, the minor may be defined as a person under the age of 16. A state’s age of consent laws may apply in the instance and prosecution of certain sex crimes that violate state laws.
Sex trafficking of minors is illegal across international and interstate borders. True. Federal sex laws prohibit sex trafficking of minors, whether they are transported between two or more countries or between two or more states.
Illicit sexual activity is not limited to sex acts. True. Sex acts include the contact between penis, vagina, anus, and/or mouth as well as the penetration of any cavity by the penis, fingers, or foreign objects. Illicit sexual activity, however, need not include explicit sex acts as such. Instead, illicit sexual activity can include the depiction of minors in a sexual manner (such as in pornography) or transmitting information about a minor in a way that is meant to provide sexual arousal.
If you or a loved one are accused of such a solicitation or similar action, you have ways to defend against laws at both the federal and state levels. If you are charged with a federal sex crime, or believe you may be charged with one, you should begin consulting with a defense attorney as soon as possible.
At Sex Crimes Attorney, we work with clients across the U.S. Our experienced legal defense team specializes in state and federal sex crimes, including sex crimes involving minors. We will fight hard for your case to ensure the best outcome. Contact us to learn how our team can help you. Call 888-666-8480 to reach Sex Crimes Attorney today.