South Carolina Federal Child Enticement Lawyer

It is a terrifying experience to learn that federal law enforcement authorities are investigating you. If the investigation centers around child enticement, there is good reason to be very concerned, because alleged crimes against children carry considerable social stigma as well harsh penalties upon conviction.

People facing federal charges need a criminal defense attorney who has experience dealing with federal crimes, and the need is even more pronounced when the charge is an alleged crime against a child. An aggressive South Carolina federal child enticement lawyer could be an invaluable ally in your fight for exoneration.

What Does Child Enticement Mean?

The crime of child enticement is defined in 18 United States Code §2422. This federal law makes it illegal to use any type of communication to persuade someone under age 18 to engage in any sexual activity that would be a crime. This includes not just sexual intercourse or other sexual contact, but also inappropriate touching, inducing a sexual performance, as well as prostitution and child sexual exploitation of every kind.

Attempted child enticement is also a crime under this statute. This is relevant because child enticement charges often result from online interactions with law enforcement officers posing as minors. When more than one adult is involved in a communicates with a child (or a law enforcement officer posing as a child) for allegedly sexual purposes, conspiracy charges also are possible.

If federal law enforcement is investigating possible child enticement, they could get a search warrant enabling them to seize computers, smart phones, and other devices. The subject of such a search warrant is wise to contact a skilled federal defense attorney immediately and refuse to speak with investigators outside the presence of the attorney.

Defenses to Child Enticement Charges

 Prosecutors must prove that a crime was committed beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a high bar, and one of the most important jobs of a defense lawyer is to force the prosecutor to meet that standard while ensuring that no violations of the defendant’s civil rights occurred.

Many, if not most, child enticement charges arise out of online communications. It will be critical to analyze the government’s evidence to determine whether it has compelling proof establishing the defendant was an actual participant in the communication at issue. If a law enforcement officer posing as a minor was involved in the investigation it will be crucial to determine that they did not engage in conduct that could be construed as entrapment.

Child enticement charges could result from communication that is somewhat ambiguous or has a potentially different meaning than the meaning law enforcement is attaching to it. Ambiguity could offer a line of defense. If there was a face-to-face meeting between the defendant and someone the defendant believed was a minor, the circumstances of the meeting might offer a defense on civil rights or Constitutional grounds.

The Penalties of a Conviction

The mandatory minimum sentence upon conviction of federal child enticement is ten years imprisonment. The maximum sentence is life in prison. Courts consider aggravating and mitigating factors to determine the appropriate sentence within the range.

Aggravating factors include the use of electronic communication during the crime, the age of the child (or the perceived age, if the “alleged victim” was an adult law enforcement officer), whether the behavior was habitual, and whether the defendant has a history of sexual offenses or crimes against children. An in-person meeting between a defendant and a child (or law enforcement officer posing as a child) could be an aggravating factor, especially if the meeting required travel across state lines or international borders. Possession of images of child sexual exploitation might be an aggravating factor in sentencing for child enticement.

A savvy defense attorney could attempt to counter aggravating factors, but also present evidence that could mitigate the perception that the defender poses an ongoing threat. Examples of mitigating factors include:

  • A clean criminal history
  • The behavior involved only a single minor
  • Defendant has mental health challenges
  • Defendant has substance abuse problems

Work With a Zealous South Carolina Federal Child Enticement Attorney

Alleged crimes against children elicit strong emotional responses in law enforcement personnel and juries. Combatting this emotional bias is an important component in any defense to these types of charges.

If you are being investigated for offenses against a child or are facing charges, you need an aggressive advocate fighting for you. Contact a South Carolina federal child enticement lawyer for immediate assistance.