Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, July 02, 2012

Daniels: Government need not show defendant knew age of minor prostitute

In U.S. v. Daniels, No. 10-14974 (July 2, 2012),
the Court affirmed the convictions and sentence of a defendant convicted of inducing a minor to engage in prostitution in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b) and transporting an individual in interstate commerce with the intent that she engage in prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2421-22.
The Court rejected the argument that the mere fact that a person came to work for the defendant as a prostitute did not suffice to show that he “induced” prostitution for purposes of § 2422(b). The Court noted that induce merely means to cause.
On an issue of first impression, the Court held that the jury need not be instructed that, in order to establish a § 2422(b) violation, the government must prove that a defendant knew that a victim had not attained the age of 18 . The Court adopted Justice Alito’s view in his concurring opinion in Flores-Figueroa v. U.S., that context determines whether a mens rea applies to an element of the offense, and the view of six circuits that had addressed the issue. The context here was Congress's protection of minors. “A defendant such as Daniels who lures and encourages children into these activities does so at this own peril, regardless of what the victim says [about her age] or how she appears.”
Turning to sentencing, the Court rejected the argument that it was unreasonable to run Daniels’ sentences consecutive to an undischarged term of 420 months imprisonment for another sentence in Michigan. The Court noted that the conduct in Michigan was not part of the relevant conduct for the latest offense, and the district court therefore acted within its discretion in imposing a consecutive 78-month sentence. The Court also affirmed the imposition of a 25-year term of supervised release.