Florida sex crimes are often prosecuted in state courts as violations of state law. It is important to understand, however, that federal criminal laws also prohibit a wide range of sex crimes. Those laws often come into play when one person crosses a state border as part of the crime, as a recent case out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit shows.
A defendant was charged with enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity, a federal crime, stemming from his involvement with a 17-year-old girl. The defendant, who was 36 years old at the time, drove from Georgia to Florida to meet the girl after communicating with her online. He took the girl to a hotel and allegedly engaged in sexual activity with her. He also took 17 photos of the girl engaging in sexual activity and posing nude, according to the court. He tried to delete those photos when he was arrested, but officers later recovered the pictures during a forensic examination of his cell phone. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.
The defendant later appealed the conviction to the Eleventh Circuit. The federal law under which he was convicted makes it a crime to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity “for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense.” He argued that meant it only covered situations in which a person entices the minor to commit a crime. Since the victim in this case did not commit a crime by having consensual sex with him, he argued that he did not violate the federal law.