Sex Trafficking Conviction In Eastern District Of Texas

Are you looking for an example of a sentence for Federal Sex Trafficking? This following is not our case, but an example of what kind of sentence may be imposed in federal court. In a recent development from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Texas, a man from Jacksonville, Texas, has been convicted of a series of federal sex trafficking crimes. Federal criminal attorney, Cody Cofer, is one of very few Texas defense lawyers that have tried multiple sex trafficking cases.

The Charges And Verdict

The individual in question was found guilty of six counts of sex trafficking of children and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children. These charges were based on evidence showing that from 2019, the defendant had been involved in trafficking several teenage girls for commercial sex acts. He lured the victims using social media, made false promises of wealth, and kept them in hotels in the Tyler area. He advertised commercial sex acts with explicit photos of the girls on sex trafficking websites. The victims’ ages were reported to be as low as 13 years. The court heard evidence indicating that the defendant employed co-conspirators to maintain his operation while he was incarcerated, so the victims could generate income to pay his bail.

Co-Conspirators’ Sentences

The case wasn’t isolated to one individual. Three co-conspirators also confessed to their roles in the crimes. The charges they pleaded guilty to ranged from conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children to interstate transport of a minor for illegal sexual activity.

Potential Consequences And Sentencing

Due to the gravity of his offenses, the man convicted faces the possibility of a life sentence in federal prison, as per federal statutes. However, the definitive sentence will be decided by the court, influenced by advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. This sentencing process will begin after a presentence investigation conducted by the U.S. Probation Office.

Connection To Project Safe Childhood

This case is part of a broader nationwide initiative called Project Safe Childhood. Established in 2006 by the Department of Justice, this program aims to fight the increasing rates of child sexual exploitation and abuse. It coordinates federal, state, and local resources to locate and pursue charges against individuals that exploit children online, as well as locate and rescue victims.

Investigation And Prosecution

The investigation of the case was a combined effort involving multiple law enforcement agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations’ Tyler Resident Agency, the Texas Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Unit, Texas DPS Criminal Investigations Division, the FBI Tyler Resident Agency, and several local sheriff’s and police departments. The case was prosecuted by a team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys.

Understanding Sex Trafficking Laws

When we think about federal crimes, sex trafficking is one of the most severe. In the United States, the government has stringent regulations against this crime. Here’s more on 18 U.S.C. § 1591, which deals with sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud, or coercion. It’s crucial to understand what this law means for you, especially if you are potentially facing charges related to these crimes.

Understanding The Actions Involved

Mainly, this law makes it illegal to knowingly participate in a series of actions, which include but are not limited to, enticing, recruiting, harboring, providing, transporting, obtaining, soliciting, or advertising a person for sex trafficking. This applies whether the action is carried out domestically or internationally, or within special areas like maritime territories of the United States.

The law also extends to people who benefit from participating in an operation or “venture” involved in sex trafficking. If you gain financially or receive anything of value from a venture involved in such illegal actions, you may be prosecuted under this law.

The Role Of Force, Fraud, Or Coercion

The law is particularly harsh for cases involving force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion, or any combination of these. If these means are used to make a person engage in a commercial sex act, or if the individual involved is under 18, the law comes into play.

Coercion, as defined in the law, includes threats of serious harm or physical restraint, schemes to make a person believe they would face harm or restraint if they didn’t perform, or the abuse or threat of abuse of law or the legal process.

The Punishments Involved

If found guilty under this law, the punishment is severe. For offenses involving force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion, or if the victim is below 14 years old, the punishment includes a fine and imprisonment for at least 15 years or even a life sentence.

If the person involved is above 14 but below 18 years, and the offense did not involve force, threats, fraud, or coercion, the punishment is still severe, involving a fine and at least 10 years in prison or potentially a life sentence.

Prosecution And Defense

In a prosecution under this law, if the accused had a reasonable chance to see the victim, the government does not need to show that the accused recklessly disregarded or knew that the victim was under 18 years old.

Anyone who obstructs or interferes with the enforcement of this law can also be punished with a fine, a prison term of up to 25 years, or both.

Potential Defenses

Sex trafficking charges are serious and require a solid defense strategy. Here are some potential defenses that can be considered, given the specifics of the statute:

Lack Of Knowledge

One of the most substantial defenses is proving that you didn’t knowingly participate in the illegal act. This could involve showing that you had no idea that the person was being coerced or was under the legal age. You might have been genuinely unaware that you were participating in an illegal venture.

No Reasonable Opportunity To Observe

The law is quite specific that if you had a reasonable opportunity to observe the person, the government doesn’t need to prove you knew their age. Therefore, a defense might revolve around proving that you didn’t have a reasonable opportunity to observe the individual involved.

No Direct Involvement Or Benefit

Another potential defense involves demonstrating that you didn’t benefit from the illegal act, either financially or by receiving anything of value. You would need to show that you were not directly involved in the venture and hence, had no reason to benefit from its actions.

Don’t Face Sex Trafficking Charges Alone – Contact Cofer Luster Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

In the whirlwind of criminal investigations, you need an unwavering and bellicose defense team, one that offers calm amidst the chaos. Cofer Luster Criminal Defense Lawyers is that team. Our highly rated, board-certified criminal defense attorneys, including Cody Cofer, are part of the limited community of Tarrant County attorneys with significant trial experience. We’re known for our relentless loyalty to clients, new or previous, as well as our leading-edge legal skills. Regardless of your case’s complexity, our steadfast and powerful approach ensures you’re not facing this alone. Don’t wait, protect your future by reaching out to a sex trafficking lawyer today. Contact us at (682) 777-3336 or online and let our criminal defense lawyers bring order to your legal chaos.

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