It’s unfortunate that sex trafficking stories exist, much less sensational big stories implicating people in the federal government involved in the sex trafficking of teens. Such a story has gripped the national headlines now for weeks.
In Orlando, a former friend of U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz recently accepted a plea deal with federal prosecutors. In the agreement, he pled guilty to several federal charges, ranging from identity theft to stalking to sex trafficking. The guilty plea agreement calls for cooperation with the government’s investigation into the child sex trafficking by others, including Rep. Gaetz.
This story highlights how pervasive sex trafficking is in the United States is. But, in order to stop crimes like this, it’s important to know what it is. Everyday citizens might take actions that could lead them to trouble without knowing.
Here’s what you need to know about child sex trafficking laws in the United States and the penalties that can be faced when someone is found guilty.
Human Trafficking: What Is It?
Under the law, child sex trafficking is defined as recruiting, transporting, obtaining, providing, harboring, soliciting, or patronizing a child for commercial sex acts, such as the production of child pornography or prostitution. The law defines a “child” as anyone under age 18.
Basically, it is against the law to obtain or offer a child for sexual activity in exchange for anything of value. This includes money, favors, personal benefit, or goods.
Sex trafficking is a crime in federal as well as state courts. And, if the victim of the sex trafficking is a minor, it does not have to be shown that the defendant used threats or force, force, coercion, or fraud to cause the minor to engage in sex.
In the federal courts, child sex trafficking falls under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. Acts associated under the law with human trafficking include:
- Enticing or luring someone to a place with the intention to make them a slave
- Carrying a person away or kidnapping them in order to hold them or sell them into slavery
- Transporting someone with the intent that they be sold or held as a slave
- Selling another person into servitude involuntarily
- Destroying, concealing, confiscating, or removing someone’s passport or other personal documents from their possession with the intent to prevent their travel
- Profiting from slavery or trafficking of another person
The punishment someone can face at the federal levels for sex trafficking or putting another into slavery depends on the particular offenses.
Penalties for Human Trafficking in TX
Human trafficking is considered a severe crime, and its penalties match its severity.
The sex trafficking of children enhances already harsh penalties. A person can face up to life in prison if convicted of sex trafficking a minor, with a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
It’s also important to keep in mind that child sex trafficking laws punish any attempt to traffick or conspiracy to traffic. Therefore, you don’t even have to follow through with the act to receive consequences for it.
If found guilty of child sex trafficking, on top of usual criminal sentencing, the defendant must also give up any property that was used to break the law and any proceeds obtained from the sex trafficking.
Mandatory payment of restitution for their losses will be determined by the court and must be delivered.
Child sex trafficking is weighty, so make sure any activities you participate in, even if with a trusted friend, don’t violate these very serious laws.