18 Sep 23

18 U.S.C. § 2251A – Selling or buying of children

| by

Last Updated on: 21st September 2023, 06:38 pm

Buying or Selling Kids for Sexual Exploitation – What You Need to Know About 18 U.S.C. § 2251A

This law is about as disturbing as it gets. We’re talking about people who buy and sell children for the purpose of sexually abusing them and producing child pornography. It’s horrific, but sadly it does happen.Let’s break down what you need to know if you or someone you care about gets wrapped up in an 18 U.S.C. § 2251A case. I’ll try to explain this complex law in simple terms, like we’re having a conversation over coffee.

Overview – It’s Illegal to Buy or Sell Kids for Sex

The gist of 18 U.S.C. § 2251A is that it’s very much against the law to transfer custody of a minor if the purpose is to have that child engage in sexual conduct and pornography.It has two main sections:

Section (a) – Don’t Sell Your Kid for Sex

This says a parent, guardian or anyone else can’t sell or give away custody of a child if:

  • They know the child will be sexually abused or used in porn after the transfer
  • They intend for the child to be used for sexual purposes and porn production

For example, if a mom sells her daughter to a known pedophile, she’d be in big trouble under section (a).

Section (b) – Don’t Buy a Kid for Sex

This section says you can’t obtain custody of a child if:

  • You know they’ll be sexually abused or used for porn afterwards
  • You plan on having them engage in sexual conduct to produce child porn

So if someone buys a child from a trafficker intending to exploit them for pornography, they’d be violating section (b).

Harsh Punishments – We’re Talking Decades in Prison

Judges don’t mess around when it comes to sentencing people under this law.For both sections (a) and (b), there is a mandatory minimum of 30 years in federal prison. The max can be up to life behind bars.These tough sentences were enacted under the PROTECT Act of 2003 to crack down hard on child sex trafficking.

Real World Examples – How This Law Is Used

To understand better, let’s look at two real cases:

  • U.S. v. Bell – Shannon Bell sold her 5 and 6 year old daughters to a known pedophile for $300. She got the minimum 30 years in prison.
  • U.S. v. Johnson – Richard Johnson bought a 12 year old girl online for $5,000 to sexually exploit her. He pleaded guilty and got 35 years.

Possible Defenses – Fighting the Charges

Given the huge penalties, anyone charged under this law needs to explore all possible defenses with their lawyer. Some options:

  • Lack of knowledge – If you truly didn’t know how the child would be used, you may have a case.
  • Entrapment – If you were coerced into buying the child, that’s a defense.
  • Diminished capacity – If you couldn’t understand what you did was wrong, you may catch a break.

There are other technical defenses too, like the statute of limitations. But bottom line – you need an experienced federal criminal defense attorney on your side.

The Takeaway – This is Incredibly Serious

The key points about 18 U.S.C. § 2251A:

  • Mandatory minimums of 30+ years in prison
  • Prosecutors must prove you knew about the sexual exploitation
  • Possible defenses include lack of knowledge and entrapment
  • Anyone charged needs a top lawyer immediately

Selling or buying children for sex is horrific. This law aims to severely punish it. But if you find yourself accused, you still have rights and hope. Fight the charges with an aggressive legal strategy. And get help – for yourself and the affected children.