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Conviction for inducing a girl under 18 years of age into prostitution does not require proof the defendant knew she was underage

In U.S. v. Daniels the 11th Circuit took up the issue of whether a conviction under 18 U.S.C. 2422(b) requires the government to prove that the defendant knew the victim was a minor. The statute makes it a crime for someone to use any interstate of foreign commerce to knowingly induce, entice, or coerce any individual who has not reached the age of 18 to engage in prostitution or any illegal sexual activity. Daniel was charge with persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing a girl under the age of 18 to engage in prostitution in violation of section 2422(b) and with knowingly transporting the girl across state lines to engage in prostitution. Daniels, a pimp, drove to Miami with a woman named Head, to engage in prostitution. After arriving in Miami they met a girl (A.W.) on the street who was then 14 years old. They convince her to work as a prostitute for Daniels. Head explained the details of working for Daniels what to charge for certain services how to act with a trick. There was no mention about her age. When trouble began between the two prostitutes, Daniels decided to sell A.W. to another pimp for $200. He took her to a bus station in Miami where she boarded a bus bound for Memphis, Tennessee, where she worked truck stops for the pimp who bought her.

Sending A.W. to another pimp was enough proof Daniels induced her.

Daniels’ federal criminal defense attorney argued the evidence was insufficient to convict of a violation of 18 U.S.C. ยง 2422 because no reasonable jury could have found that he persuaded induced enticed or coerced A.W. to engage in prostitution because she was already a prostitute in Miami. The fact that she was already working as a prostitute when she came to work for him is not sufficient evidence to conclude that he persuaded her to be a prostitute. The 11th Circuit found that Daniel’s actions in arranging to sell her to another pimp and putting her on a bus so she could reach him falls within the definition of induce.

Special contextual circumstances mean the word ‘knowingly” does not require knowing the age of the girl.

Daniels claimed that 18 U.S.C. 2422(b) requires proof that Daniels knew that A.W. had not reached the age of 18. The language of the statute makes it a crime if someone, “knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years, to engage in prostitution, or any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with an offense.” Daniels drew a comparison between sections 2422(b) and 18 U.S.C. ยง 1028A(a)(1), the identity theft statute. In Flores-Figueroa v. United States the Supreme Court held that section 1028A(a)(1) required the government to show that the defendant knew that the means of identification he or she transferred, possessed, or used in fact belonged to person. The defendant not only had to have knowledge that he was unlawfully using a means of identification, but also that the means of identification was that of “another person.” The Supreme Court held that as a matter of normal English grammar the word “knowing” should be read apply to all the subsequently listed elements of the crime. The 11th Circuit declined to apply that interpretation and distinguished between the statute in Daniels and section 1028A. There the Supreme Court acknowledged that courts normally read a phrase in a criminal statute that introduces the elements of a crime with the word knowing as applying to each element. The concurring opinion of Justice Alito pointed out that there may be special contextual circumstances that may rebut the presumption that the specified mens rea applies to every element of the offense. The 11th Circuit found that 1028A(a)(1) and this statute are distinguishable and that there is a special context here that was not present in Figueroa. The difference here is that the statute in Daniels is intended for the protection of the very young and it calls for a contextual approach to the statutory interpretation. The 11th Circuit held that cases concerned with the protection of minors are within a special context that rebuts the presumption that a knowing mens rea applies to every element in a statute.

No requirement that the defendant know that the girl would be transported interstate.

Daniels claimed that court erred in not instructing the jury that the government was required to prove that Daniels knew A.W. would be transported interstate. But Daniels did not propose this instruction and the court found no plain error because there is no
precedent that requires knowledge of the interstate nature of the transportation.

Consecutive sentence not unreasonable.

The consecutive sentence was not found to be unreasonable because the facts in this case were used as relevant conduct for his federal conviction in Michigan. Here it was within the district court’s discretion under the guidelines to impose a consecutive sentence.

The enhancement for Inducing may be presumed based on the age difference.

Daniels argued the court erred in applying a 2 level enhancement based on exerting undue influence over A.W. He argued that she was already engaged in prostitution. Where the defendant is 10 years older than the minor, there is a rebuttal presumption that the defendant unduly influenced the minor into engaging in commercial sex.
Given the presumption the court did not err in giving the 2 level enhancement.