Sexual exploitation of a minor is a federal offense and severe penalties can apply if an offender is convicted of the crime.
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Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
Sexual exploitation of a minor, a person under the legal age of 18, is a federal crime punishable by severe penalties. Sometimes referred to as sex trafficking, such crimes involve sexual exploitation of children for economic gain. Most victims of sexual exploitation are teens and young adults, but some victims are children as young as eight years old. All crimes require an offender to face charges in federal court. Generally, the younger the victim, the harsher the punishment.
Sexual exploitation in Minnesota takes different forms and often involves acts of physical abuse, prostitution, watching or participating in pornography, and illegal smuggling of children for illicit purposes and profits. Teenagers and young people are particularly vulnerable to sex traffickers, especially if they are homeless and living on the streets. More than 50% of homeless youths regularly participate in sex acts in exchange for money, food, or shelter.
In 2015, Minnesota’s sex trafficking rate was the third-highest in the country. Stings and arrests broke up rings that involved many young children who were forced into prostitution or sold to dangerous buyers as personal property. A common form of sex trafficking seen by Minnesota sex crime attorneys is Child prostitution, where traffickers profit from illegal sexual acts. Sex traffickers use various coercion tactics like threats of physical violence, rape, social isolation, drugs, and withholding food to keep victims from seeking help.
It’s estimated that thousands of minors are sexually exploited every year in the United States. Between 1998 and 2004, there were 300,000 hotline tips regarding child sexual exploitation. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) estimates that one in five girls and one in ten boys under the age of 18 are sexually exploited every year, and less than 35% of cases get reported.
In Minnesota, sexual exploitation of a minor is considered a Class 2 felony. If convicted of charges, an offender can face fines up to $5,000 and a prison sentence up to three years, or both. A Minneapolis sex crime attorney with experience in sex crime cases can work with the court to get a reduction in charges, especially if it’s a first offense. If it is a repeat offense, or if the victim is younger than 15, charges and penalties will likely be greater.