The Lawrence Eagle Tribune reported Friday that a 27 year old Florida man was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for convincing a 15 year girl to run away from home to be with him. The defendant, Daniel Lenz met the girl through an internet video game. The defense tried to get sentencing continued so that Lenz could get a psychiatric evaluation to aid in his sentencing. Sentencing documents claimed that Lenz suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, that he has experienced suicidal tendencies and that he had a troubled relationship with his father. The judge refused to continue sentencing after prosecutors claimed that Lenz was still having phone sex with the girl while incarcerated. The prosecution further stated that Lenz poses a danger to the girl and refuses to admit that he committed a crime. Apparently the girl would visit Lenz in prison and during at least one visit exposed herself by flashing him.
On August 30, 2007 a federal jury convicted Lenz of 18 U.S.C. sec. 2423. That statute makes criminal transporting anyone under the age of 18 for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct. The statute requires a mandatory 10 year prison sentence. There is also a maximum of life in prison for a conviction of this offense. While Lenz received the minimum sentence he will also be on supervised release for life after his release from prison.
This is an extremely strict statute when compared to some state laws. For example, in Massachusetts the age for consent is 16. Arguably the federal statute would make criminal a consensual act that involved for example a 19 year old boy and an 17 year old girl. Hopefully law enforcement would use discretion in such a case and not choose to prosecute that type of act and limit its use of this statute to those situations that result in the exploitation of young vulnerable victims.
Federal crimes are the most difficult to defend. The prosecutors typically indict only their strongest cases. The witnesses who investigate these cases are FBI agents, DEA agents, ATF agents, and members of various other federal law enforcement entities. Most of these people have extensive educational backgrounds such as law degrees, masters degrees or doctorates. They are well prepared for trial and their investigations are usually the most thorough. In federal criminal cases it is of the greatest importance that you hire a lawyer experienced with the federal criminal system. The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman has been representing defendants in federal criminal cases for over 20 years.
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