Under Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 2251A, selling or buying of children is a serious federal sexual related offense that could result in a life sentence.
While there are several criminal offenses dealing with selling and buying children in different contexts, this specific law covers only buying and selling for the commission of sex crimes.
In basic language, according to federal law, you could face charges of selling or buying children if you are a parent, legal guardian, or have custody, and then transfer custody or control of the child with the specific knowledge they will engage in sexually explicit activity, or to become involved in making sexually explicit materials.
It's also a federal crime to transfer custody or control with intent to promote engaging in sexually explicit conduct or intent to promote rendering assistance by the minor to engage in explicit conduct.
Likewise, individuals on either side of the alleged criminal conduct can also face serious penalties.
For example, if you purchase or offer to purchase a child for the above purposes, you could face a felony conviction.
Title 18 U.S.C. 2251A imposes very serious criminal penalties for the buying and selling of children.
Typically, legal penalties for a selling or buying of children conviction depend on a variety of different factors and the calculation of the federal sentencing guidelines.
Each subsection addresses a specific subset of conduct related to the trafficking of minors.
We will review each variation of this federal crime in some detail to help you understand what type of conduct is covered, and what the associated penalties provided for by law are.
In general, these code sections represent some of the most serious sex-related offenses involving minors which are addressed in the federal criminal laws.
Seek Immediate Legal Representation
If you or a family member are under federal criminal investigation, or have been indicted for selling or buying children, you need to contact an experienced Los Angeles federal criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Gorin LLP immediately.
Do not make any statements to federal agents or law enforcement. Any incriminating statements you make will be used against you later in court.
Our law firm understands what it will take to effectively defend you against a federal sex crime.
We know the impact a conviction will have on your personal and professional life. We strongly advise you to seek professional legal representation immediately.
Failure to adequately respond to an allegation of 18 U.S.C. § 2551A with the assistance of a qualified federal criminal defense attorney can result in extended periods of incarceration in federal prison. Let's examine the legal definitions, penalties, and defenses below.
18 U.S.C. § 2251A - Selling or Buying of Children
Title 18 U.S. Code § 2251A, legally defines the selling or buying of children as follows:
- “Subsection (a) Any parent, legal guardian, or person having custody or control of a minor who sells or transfers custody or control of minor, or offers to sell or transfer custody of minor either: (1) with knowledge that, as a consequence of the sale or transfer, the minor will be portrayed in a visual depiction engaging in, or assisting another person to engage in, sexually explicit conduct; or; (2) with intent to promote either: (A) engaging in sexually explicit conduct by minor for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct; or; (B) rendering of assistance by the minor to any other person to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct; shall be punished by imprisonment for no less than 30 years or for life and by a fine, if any of the circumstances described in subsection (c) of this section exist.”
Applies to Anyone with Physical Custody
Several aspects of this subsection should be noted. First, the crime of selling a child applies equally to parents and legal guardians as it does to any person who has custody or control of the minor.
Put another way, anyone with physical custody of the child can be guilty of this offense - not simply a person with legal custody rights.
Second, the statute contains a specific mental state that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the government at trial. It is not enough that a person offers to sell or transfer custody of a minor.
Rather, they must either have knowledge that the sale or transfer will result in the child being exploited sexually or have intent to promote the production or child pornography or other sexual exploitation.
As you can see, the penalty prescribed for a violation of this subsection is severe: incarceration in federal prison for between 30 years and life.
Contact a Los Angeles federal criminal defense lawyer at our law firm for additional information.
Subsection (b) of Section 2251A further provides that:
- “whoever purchases or obtains custody or control of a minor, or offers to purchase or obtain custody or control of a minor either: (1) with knowledge that, as a consequence of the purchase or obtaining custody, the minor will be portrayed in a visual depiction engaging in, or assisting another person to engage in, sexually explicit conduct; or (2) with intent to promote either (A) the engaging in of sexually explicit conduct by such minor for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct; or (B) the rendering of assistance by the minor to any other person to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct; shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than 30 years or for life and by a fine under this title, if any of the circumstances described in subsection (c) of this section exist.”
Subsection (b) is the mirror-image of subsection (a). Where the first subsection is addressed to the sellers of children for the purpose of sexual exploitation and the production of child pornography, the second subsection is directed at the buyers who engage in these transactions.
Once again, the prescribed penalty is incarceration in federal prison for 30 years to life.
Subsection (c) provides a jurisdictional limitation for the applicability of the code section.
Subsection (c) states that:
- “the circumstances referred to in subsections (a) and (b) are that (1) in the course of the conduct described in such subsections the minor or the actor traveled in or was transported in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce; (2) any offer described in such subsections was communicated or transported using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce or in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce by any means including by computer or mail; or (3) the conduct described in such subsections took place in any territory or possession of the United States.”
Federal Law Prohibits Crossing State Lines
This subsection, or one similar to it, is critical in federal criminal statutes. In general, the governments of the 50 States (and other territories) handle criminal matters.
For the federal law enforcement authorities to have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes, those crimes must have an inter-state impact.
For this reason, subsection (c) specifies different scenarios in which the buying and selling of children could cross state lines - such as the use of computers or mail across state lines or the physical transportation of the child across a State border.
Finally, any relevant conduct that actually occurs on federal land, such as on an army base or in a national park, would fall under federal jurisdiction.
See related information: Federal Child Pornography.
Call a Los Angeles Federal Criminal Lawyer
Once again, the crime of buying and selling children as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2251A is an extremely serious offense which subjects those prosecuted to life terms of imprisonment, and lifetime sex offender registration.
The experienced federal criminal defense lawyers at Eisner Gorin LLP have a track record of success.
Our attorneys will aggressively defend your best interests throughout every stage of your case. Our defense strategies have proven effective, even in the most complex federal sex crime cases.
Early intervention into your case before court by our experienced federal criminal defense attorneys is key to achieving the best outcome in your case.
Contact us at 877-781-1570.