Defending against the Charge of Traveling to Meet a Minor for Sex – What Should I Do?
The ability to travel between states today is easier than ever. Whether it is by car, train, or airplane, one can go from one state to another in a matter of hours. Unfortunately, this has opened the way for individuals to travel between states to meet young children and commit sexual crimes. There are those that take advantage of this situation because they are unknown in that state, which means they can return to their home state without anyone knowing who they were.
While there are individuals who are guilty of doing this, there are also those who are accused and innocent. The state makes it illegal to travel to meet a minor, and often they strive to make examples out of those who are accused of doing so to prevent others from doing the same. Sadly, this can disrupt the life of an innocent person, and forever tarnish their reputation, when they did not commit the crime.
If you are facing sex crime charges, including traveling to meet a minor in or out of the state of New Mexico, now is the time to contact a criminal defense attorney. These charges are profoundly serious, and even being arrested for an alleged sex crime with a minor can permanently impact your life.
The Elements Required to Obtain a Guilty Verdict
While you might be under suspicion of traveling to meet a minor, the prosecution still must prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and that requires them to present the court with evidence that proves all necessary elements. These elements help establish your intent, meaning you intentionally crossed states lines to meet and engage in criminal sexual acts with a minor.
Your intent, however, can be proven using circumstantial evidence. Sometimes, that evidence may prove you were likely committing the crime, even though you are innocent. Therefore, it is easy to be accused of this crime without actually doing it.
When defending yourself against these types of allegations, your criminal defense attorney will review the evidence and provide counter-evidence that shows the state’s elements are inadequate and that they do not prove intent. If successful, you can be acquitted of the charges.
What Are the Main Elements Required?
Knowing these elements is critical for mounting a strong defense. Just some of the key elements required to secure a conviction include:
- How far you traveled to allegedly meet the minor. The state must prove that you traveled some distance, even if it is just a slight distance, to meet the minor. If the victim, however, came to the defendant, then the prosecution would not have a case for someone traveling to meet a minor. Likewise, if the defendant leaves his or her home and walks to the alleged crime scene, it might not constitute travel because there was limited distance involved.
- If there is a connection between the state of New Mexico. To be tried and convicted of this crime in the state, the prosecution must also prove that you traveled in the state, traveled to the state, or you live in the state. This is the only way New Mexico has the power to exercise jurisdiction over your case. Without any proof of you living here, traveling here, or traveling within this state, they cannot try you for the crime.
- You must have the means to travel. They must also prove that you were able to travel, including having the ability to drive or have access to transportation. If there is no means for getting from one point to another, then the state has no case.
- You had traveled for the purpose of engaging in a type of sex act. Furthermore, traveling is not a crime. Therefore, the state must have evidence that shows you traveled for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a minor. This is the hardest element to prove. The state might use text messages, social media profiles and interactions, and testimony to help prove there was a relationship. Also, the presence of any prophylactics, such as condoms on you at the time of your arrest, could be used to show intent.
- You were traveling to meet a child or someone you knew/believed to be a child. The victim must be under the age of 18, and the court must not only prove they were a child, but that you knew or should have known they were. Likewise, you could be arrested even if the victim were not a child but posed as an underage victim. For example, a 20-year-old woman made it clear in her messages to the defendant that she was a 12-year-old girl. In this case, the defendant allegedly was traveling to meet what they believed to be a child and not an adult woman.
The Punishment, If Convicted, Is Severe – Avoid Criminal Penalties by Contacting an Attorney Now
Traveling to meet a minor is a felony in the state of New Mexico, and you will spend time in prison. Furthermore, you will be forced to register as a sex offender – a registration that will haunt you for the rest of your life. It will affect your ability to seek employment, housing, and even government aid.
You will carry the stigma of being a sex offender, and it can impact personal relationships as well.
The long-term consequences of being even accused as a sex offender are grim. Therefore, the sooner you involve an attorney, the better your chances. An attorney may be able to intervene and help before you are even arrested or charged, which can spare you from a lifetime of social stigmas.