Inducing a Minor into Prostitution
Online solicitation of minors through the internet has become a common and growing problem. If a defendant lures a child to commit a sexual act through the internet, that defendant can be prosecuted under the Mann Act in federal court. While originally passed over a hundred years ago with the intent to prosecute men for having sexual intercourse with underage women, the Mann Act has been recently interpreted prohibit the use of any means of interstate commerce (in this case, the internet) in order to knowingly persuade a minor into prostitution or into committing a sexual act. In order to prove a case under this statute, a prosecutor must show a number of elements. First, the prosecutor must show that the child sought to be lured through the internet was under the age of eighteen. While this element might seem straightforward, it is only necessary that the prosecutor show that the defendant believes that he was soliciting a child. This typically applies when a defendant is caught through a police sting operation in which undercover officers use the internet to pose as children. Second, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant seduced the minor into engaging in a sexual act involving physical contact between the defendant and the minor. This element can be proved a number of ways. Most often, a prosecutor will show a series of sexually explicit emails or instant messages followed by the defendant agreeing to meet the minor at a specific time and location.
While solicitation of a minor can be proved under a number of statutes and through a number of different case theories, the penalties are almost always severe. According to Massachusetts law, a person who induces a person under the age of 18 to have unlawful sexual intercourse faces imprisonment for up to three year and a fine of $1,000. For those convicted of offering to pay a minor in exchange for sexual conduct, the penalty is up to ten years in prison and a fine between $3,00 and $10,000. In addition, if prosecuted under the Mann Act, the defendant could also face a civil fine of up to $100,000.
Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorneys at Altman & Altman, LLP
If you or a loved one has been charged with inducing a minor to prostitution or are being investigated for that crime, call the experienced criminal defense attorneys of Altman & Altman for a free, confidential consultation. You may contact our office 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All initial consultations are free of charge.