For a child enticement charge under 18 USC 2422(b), the penalty is a mandatory minimum of 10 years’ incarceration in federal court, which is extremely serious. The stakes are very high when you’re litigating that type of case. For the traveling with intent to engage in illegal sexual conduct charge in federal court, the maximum penalty is 20 years and there’s no mandatory minimum. So there’s a lot more flexibility and sentencing possibilities there, however it is still a very serious charge that warrants attention from a DC federal child enticement lawyer.
There are variety of factors that play a role in federal sentencing. In federal court, the United States Sentencing Guidelines play a huge role in determining the factors that help to shape the sentence as well as the statute (18 USC 3553(a)) that outlines the factors that the judges are supposed to use when making sentencing decisions. So we would expect that in these types of cases, the case specific factors that are important in a child enticement case, the nature and substance of the communications, if there was online chat, was the communication between a client and an undercover officer or a client or an actual minor, which is extremely important. With a travel to engage in an illegal sexual conduct chargSentencinge, the electronic communications are also important because normally there is the conduct leading up to the travel and also who the communications are with, the nature, plan, and substance of the communication with an actual minor that’s really important.
With respect to general sentencing factors, 18 USC 3553(a) is to look at the nature and circumstances of the offense, characteristics of the defendant like history, background, education, and prior criminal history. All of that is very important. Judges are also directed to look at sentences imposed in similar cases in order to make sure that the sentences are applied evenly across the board. Judges are directed to look at the potential deterrent effect that sentence will have, whether the sentence will promote respect for the law, and whether the person who is going to be sentenced needs treatment, educational resources, or other types of treatment.
With these types of cases, aggravating factors could include what’s called the “use of the computer,” which we have been successful in combating. The government’s attempt to use this as an aggravating factor is misplaced because that enhancement came into being before computers become so prevalent. Just about every child enticement and traveling charge involves the use of computer so it’s use as an aggravator is redundant.
Other factors that can aggravate or enhance a sentence are the age of the fictional or fictitious minor involved (if undercover officers are involved). If the fictitious minor or actual minor are under the age of 12, there can be a significant enhancement. If there is, for example, a person charged with one of these offenses, then law enforcement agents can get a search warrant. They’ll search computers and phones, and if they find child pornography, it could form the loss of another enhancement. Then the number of the alleged victims is also important and could be used as an aggravating factor.
Mitigating factors would be usually more related to the client who is to be sentenced, whether they have mental health issues or if there is a substance abuse problem that is playing a role. The lack of prior criminal history, less egregious nature of the communication, lack of other communication with additional minor could also mitigate a sentence.
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