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US laws protect children outside of the US

People across Florida should be very clear about the fact that they can get in serious trouble for engaging in sexual conduct with minors. Though there are very exceptions, having sex with someone who is underage can mean some very harsh penalties that can prove to be ruinous.

Unfortunately, people make the mistake of thinking that traveling to a different country to engage in sex with minors will shield them from the reach of U.S. laws. This can be a very costly mistake.

For example, a man in Florida said he fell victim to the seemingly "consenting practices" of having sex with underage prostitutes in Colombia during his sentencing stemming from possession of child pornography possession and sex tourism convictions. The judge was not moved and sentenced the man to 15 years in a federal prison facility and 25 more years to supervised release. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

People in similar situations often wrongly believe that U.S. laws regarding sex with minors do not apply or are more easily ignored in other countries. This is a very dangerous mistake to make. The U.S. has laws that extend beyond our borders, including the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today Act, known as the PROTECT Act. This and other laws allow agents in this country to take action against people who commit crimes in other countries.

Federal law enforcement agencies are very dedicated to stopping crimes against children here in the U.S. and across the globe. Together with agencies in other countries, they launch massive investigations to identify people who are planning to travel or have traveled internationally for the purposes of having sex with minors. They monitor Internet and travel behaviors and even utilize undercover agents to make contact with people suspected of such activities to build a case.

If you believe you are being investigated for sex crimes against minors in other countries or have recently been charged, you need -- and have the right -- to defend yourself. A conviction on these offenses can land a person in prison for decades and do irreparable damage to their future and freedom.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Broward man who had sex with child prostitutes blames Colombian culture," Paula McMahon, June 30, 2015

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