Swaths of high-profile celebrities mowed down by the single, giant scythe of the #metoo movement. Scandalous US sex trafficking accusations involving some of the most powerful men in the country.
No wonder sex crimes are taking center stage among federal prosecutors’ interests.
The fact of the matter is, there are US codes and statutes in place addressing these issues. For that reason, federal officials technically have jurisdiction over any Texas sex crime they want.
Still, federal agents seem to pick and choose, leaving the majority of matters in the state’s hands. So when, exactly, does a Texas sex crime result in a federal charge?
Defining a Federal Sex Crime
Sex crimes are generally defined as sexual acts committed by one person upon another by using unlawful/deadly threat or force, or without the victim’s knowledge or consent.
The two most common terms we typically hear associated with sex crimes are rape and sexual assault. However, there are many other qualifying offenses, including, but not limited to:
- Sexual slavery and human trafficking
- Child pornography and exploitation
- Child sexual abuse
- Repeated sex offenses
- Failing to register as a sex offender
Also important, you can be subject to prosecution at both state and federal levels for the very same crime.
Most of the time, though, those cases which may pertain to the broader public interest or that involve crossing state lines are the ones federal agents are most interested in intercepting.
Human Sex Trafficking
Human sex trafficking charges can apply to any activity that involves the movement of human beings in relation to sexual interactions in exchange for money or other items of value.
If you are at all interested in current events, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Jeffrey Epstein and the accusations of his deep involvement in the sex trafficking trade. You are also probably aware his case was further sensationalized by the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death.
Heightened awareness, coupled with the fact that The Human Trafficking Institute ranks the Lone Star State first in the nation for the number of active sex trafficking cases, equates to federal law enforcement shifting their focus to other Texas cases like this.
Sex Crimes Involving Children or Minors
- Kelley wasn’t the first – and probably won’t be the last – but he is the most recent celebrity being hit hard (again) for his sexual involvement with underage girls.
What’s interesting about this case is that part of his undoing has been due to a few technicalities. What, exactly?
Well, the Chicago-based federal indictment he is dealing with today is because of child sex crime charges he was originally acquitted of decades ago. A federal investigation into how he corresponded with victims and their families during those trials revealed that measures he took obstructed justice (another federal crime).
Another aspect of the R. Kelly case was that he used the US Postal Service to mail recordings of his sexual acts. This amounts to crossing state lines, which made the activities a federal offense.
While the R. Kelly case involves snail mail, federal agencies continue to hone their digital investigative competency as well. Much of the illegal sex trade takes place online these days, which is akin to e-commerce.
Utilizing the internet to transfer, share, purchase, or sell illegal pornography (including images of children and other violent forms of pornography) is considered a form of intrastate activity. This automatically grants additional federal jurisdiction.
Texas legislation is already tough on sex crimes, and our laws closely mirror those statutes imposed by the federal government. That being said, the consequences of a sex crime conviction on the federal level can be even heavier – think steeper fines and zero opportunity for parole.
If you have committed a sex crime in the DFW area, finding the right Texas criminal defense attorney is imperative.
Every case is different. Every defense strategy is unique. Call the Hampton Law Firm to share your side of the story, and to learn what we might be able to do given the specific circumstances surrounding your case.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.