It is common knowledge that engaging in sex with a minor is a crime. At the state level, the best case scenario is a second degree rape, or statutory rape, charge. If the minor is under the age of 14, then the defendant is looking at a first degree rape charge and the possibility of life in prison. Conviction of either offense results in lifetime sex offender registration as a Level 3 sex offender. However, engaging in sex with a minor is not only a state crime, but also a federal offense--even if the act takes place outside of the country with a person who is not a United States citizen. If anyone should know the law, one might think it would be an attorney.However, an Oklahoma City lawyer and a bail bondsmen from Ada, Oklahoma, have been accused of taking numerous trips to Peru to engage in sex with minor girls. Neither of the accused men has been indicted as of this writing, but both are accused of traveling to Peru four to six times a year, taking as many as 30 trips in the past eight years. According to an FBI investigation, both men talked about their trips with others, and these sources notified the FBI about the acts. The men were arrested by FBI agents and Peruvian law enforcement last month after taking two girls, aged 13 and 17, to their hotel room.Traveling internationally for the purpose of sex with minors is called "sex tourism," and it is a violation of federal law. The United States Department of Justice�(USDOJ)website states:"The extraterritorial sexual exploitation of children is the act of traveling to a foreign country and engaging in sexual activity with a child in that country. Federal law prohibits an American citizen or resident to travel to a foreign country with intent to engage in any form of sexual conduct with a minor (defined as persons under 18 years of age). It is also illegal to help organize or assist another person to travel for these purposes. This crime is a form of human trafficking, also referred to as child sex tourism. Convicted offenders face fines and up to 30 years of imprisonment."Sex tourism is prohibited by the United States criminal code in 18 USC 2423. Section B forbids travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and provides the Federal government "extraterritorial jurisdiction" over such cases. Section C prohibits engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places. Section D covers "ancillary offenses," which includes arranging or facilitating sex tourism.The USDOJ Citizen's Guide to U.S. Federal Law on the Extraterritorial Sexual Exploitation of Children�notes a very important aspect of the law: "Citizens can be punished under this law even if the conduct they engaged in was legal in the country where it occurred. For example, if an individual traveled to a country that had legalized prostitution, and while they were there they paid a child for sex, that individual could still be convicted under this statute."If you have been accused of a state or federal sex crime, it is imperative that you find expert legal counsel as quickly as possible. Read more about federal criminal defense on our website or click here to submit a confidential case review form.
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