What to Do if You’re Charged with a Mann Act Violation

October 6, 2021 | Bill Henry

Infamous R&B singer R. Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was convicted of racketeering based on criminal conduct that included the sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, and forced labor. He was also found guilty of Mann Act charges, a century-old sex trafficking law, in September 2021.

This article explains the Mann Act and discusses whether you could be charged with violating it here in Colorado. For a deeper look into this law, read our Mann Act Legal Guide.

Have You Been Charged with a Sex Crime? 

A sex crime conviction can follow you for the rest of your life. Whether you face Mann Act charges or another sex crime violation, we strongly recommend you contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Set up a free meeting with a member of our Criminal Defense Team to discuss the facts of your case, legal rights and responsibilities, next steps, and more. Call 303-688-0944 to make that appointment 24/7. 

Mann Act charges

What was R. Kelly Convicted of?

R. Kelly was convicted of multiple Mann Act charges, including coercion, enticement, and “[transporting] women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity,” according to the federal indictment.

Kelly, who is 54 years old, faces what is tantamount to a life sentence. The racketeering and Mann Act Coercion and Enticement charges could bring up to 20 years in prison. He could also receive up to 10 years imprisonment for each of the four Mann Act Transportation violations.

Kelly will be sentenced in 2022 for federal crimes.

Can I be Charged with a Mann Act Violation in Colorado?

Yes, you absolutely can be charged with a Mann Act violation in Colorado. That’s because the statute is a federal law under Title 18 of the United States Code; more specifically, the Mann Act falls under Transportation for Illegal Sexual Activity and Related Crimes.

R. Kelly was charged with violating two sections of the Mann Act: sections 2421 and 2422.

Section 2421 prohibits transporting someone across state lines or out of the country for prostitution or other sex crimes.

The other section addresses coercion and enticement. Section 2422 makes it illegal to talk someone into going to another state or outside the country for prostitution or other illegal sexual activity. Specifically, the law states “knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces” someone. § 2422(a)

What is the Mann Act?

Signed into law in 1910, the Mann Act, in short, made it illegal to take women and girls across state lines or out of the country for prostitution, debauchery, or other immoral practices.

While the Mann Act was created to protect women and girls from being sex trafficked, it also took aim at what was largely considered immoral during that time. For instance, the Mann Act was meant to discourage interracial relationships and pre-marital sex.

During the last century, Congress has amended the Mann Act a number of times to add more protections and modernize the law by replacing moral language with legal principles.

Mann Act Charges Can Invoke Other Federal Laws

In addition to Mann Act offenses, federal prosecutors applied the Racketeer Influenced and Corruptions Act, or RICO, to Kelly’s case and charged him with racketeering.

Members of organized crime groups, like the Mob, have been convicted of RICO violations for illegal businesses, or rackets, that often involve embezzlement, extortion, and illegal gambling rings to name a few. Federal prosecutors likened Kelly’s business to an illegal business operation.

Federal prosecutors said Kelly and his extensive staff constituted a racketeering enterprise that preyed upon and recruited teenagers and young women for illegal sexual activity.

What to Do if You are Charged with a Mann Act Violation

The first thing you should do is contact a criminal defense attorney. These are extremely serious federal crimes.

As you can see from R. Kelly’s impending prison sentence, the Mann Act carries stringent penalties. Depending on which section or sections of the act you violate, you could receive anywhere from five (5) years to life in prison.

In addition to going to prison, you could face fines, civil lawsuits, mandatory restitution, and forfeiting your property to the federal government.

Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney

A criminal defense attorney is versed in the law and your legal rights. From negotiating with prosecutors to building a strong defense for trial, your criminal defense attorney is your greatest ally when you’re accused of a sex crime.

Robinson & Henry’s Criminal Defense Team offers free case assessments. Call 303-688-0944 to schedule yours or click here to set up the meeting online.

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