Under state and federal law, it is illegal to transport a minor child for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity. Traveling with a minor for other purposes may be permissible, however, depending on the circumstances. As such, the prosecution must establish that the defendant had an illicit motive to prove their guilt. In a recent ruling issued in a Florida case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for numerous sex crimes, including transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. If you are accused of a sex offense, it is smart to meet with a Sarasota sex crime defense attorney to assess your options for protecting your interest.
History of the Case
It is reported that the defendant was charged with multiple crimes, including transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He was convicted as charged and appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction.
Establishing Guilt for Transporting a Minor with the Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity
On appeal, the defendant presented two arguments regarding the adequacy of the evidence against him. Firstly, he contends that the transportation did not primarily serve the purpose of engaging in sexual activity because the victim also intended to visit the United States for her brother’s honeymoon. Secondly, he argues that the victim’s trip from the Bahamas to Miami, which he financed, was an innocent return journey to the United States for her brother’s honeymoon.
To establish guilt for transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity in violation of federal law, the government must demonstrate that the defendant knowingly transported a minor across state lines with the intention of engaging in criminal sexual activity. Actual sexual activity is not necessary to prove the intent, but engaging in sexual activities with the minor after crossing state lines can strengthen the evidence of intent.
The defendant argued that under applicable case law, the dominant motive of transportation must be immoral and that an innocent purpose of the trip could nullify the criminal intent. The case in question also recognized the concept of an “innocent round trip,” where the return journey does not change the innocent nature of the trip. The court, however, noted it consistently declined to expand the scope of the doctrine established by the case the defendant relied upon beyond its specific circumstances. In other words, dual purposes are sufficient for a conviction, and it is unnecessary to establish the dominant purpose as long as an illegal purpose exists.
In the subject case, the court found that there was enough evidence to support the defendant’s conviction, regardless of the fact that sexual activity was not the sole purpose of his trip. As such, it denied his appeal.
Confer with an Experienced Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney
Convictions for sex crimes involving minors carry serious penalties, but the prosecution must establish each element of the charged offense in order to demonstrate guilt. If you are charged with a sex offense, it is in your best interest to confer with an attorney about your potential defenses. The experienced Sarasota criminal defense lawyers of Hanlon Law possess the skills and resources needed to obtain favorable outcomes, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact Hanlon Law through the online form or by calling 941-462-1789 to set up a conference.