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Federal Sex Crimes

Houston Lawyer for Federal Sex Crimes

Any types of criminal charges relating to an alleged sex crime are very serious. The potential severity is increased even further when the case is prosecuted by a federal agency. Prosecutors with the United States Attorney’s Offices have much greater resources at their disposal and are far less likely to express any type of leniency for alleged offenders in these cases.

Sex crimes fall under federal jurisdiction when an alleged offense crosses state lines. This is especially common for alleged crimes that involve any kind of internet activity.

It is critical for alleged offenders in these types of cases to immediately retain legal counsel. Matt Horak, a criminal defense attorney in Houston, TX, is admitted to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, including the Houston Division and the Galveston Division.

Houston Lawyer for Federal Sex Crimes

Horak Law aggressively defends clients throughout these areas of the Lone Star State, including communities in Harris County and surrounding areas such as Liberty County, Waller County, Brazoria County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, and Galveston County.

You can receive a complete review of your case during a free, confidential consultation as soon as you call our firm at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 right now. We help clients fight charges of committing a sexually motivated crime throughout the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, including the Houston Division and the Galveston Division.


Federal Sex Crimes Information Center


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Federal Sexual Abuse Charges in Texas

Several sexual abuse crimes are listed under 18 U.S. Code Chapter 109A. In offenses under this chapter, a sexual act can mean contact between genitals, the mouth and genitals, or any penetration of the genitals of any person, or the intentional touching—not through the clothing—of the genitalia of another person who is under 16 years of age.

All of the following offenses are also punishable by fines in addition to the prison sentences listed:

  • Aggravated Sexual Abuse, 18 U.S. Code § 2241 — If an alleged offender knowingly causes another person to engage in a sexual act by using force against another person or by threatening or placing that other person in fear that any person will be subjected to death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping, or knowingly engages in a sexual act with another person after rendering him or her unconscious or substantially impairs the ability of that other person to appraise or control conduct and engages in a sexual act with him or her after administering a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance by force or threat of force, or without the knowledge or permission of that person, this is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. If the alleged victim is under 12 years of age, then any of those offenses are punishable by up to 20 years in prison. If this offense involves an alleged offender crossing a state line with intent to engage in a sexual act with a person who is under 12 years of age, it is punishable by a minimum sentence of 30 years in prison.
  • Sexual Abuse, 18 U.S. Code § 2242 — If an alleged offender knowingly causes another person to engage in a sexual act by threatening or placing that other person in fear or engages in a sexual act with another person if that other person is incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct or physically incapable of declining participation in, or communicating unwillingness to engage in, that sexual act, this is punishable by up to three years in prison. If the alleged victim is under 12 years of age, then any of those offenses are punishable by up to six years in prison.
  • Sexual Abuse of a Minor or Ward, 18 U.S. Code § 2243 — If an alleged offender knowingly engages in a sexual act with another person who at least 12 years of age but is under 16 years of age and is at least four years younger than the alleged offender, this is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. If the alleged offender knowingly engages in a sexual act with another person who is in official detention and under the custodial, supervisory, or disciplinary authority of the alleged offender, this is also punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

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Human Trafficking Charges in Texas

When a federal sex crime involves human trafficking in the State of Texas, the alleged offender is generally accused of enslaving alleged victims for sexual purposes. Several federal laws specifically address human trafficking:

  • The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) — Originally passed in 2000 and reauthorized four times since then, it established protections for victims of human trafficking in exchange for their assistance in prosecuting alleged offenders. Under 18 U.S. Code § 1590, a person who knowingly recruits, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains by any means any person for labor or services can be fined and/or sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. If the alleged offender’s actions resulted in death to an alleged victim or involved kidnapping, an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, the alleged offender could receive a life sentence.
  • The Mann Act — Formally titled the White-Slave Traffic Act, 18 U.S. Code §§ 2421-2424 established possible prison sentences of up to 10 years for alleged offenders who knowingly transport any individual in interstate or foreign commerce with intent for prostitution or criminal sexual activity. The sentence is up to 20 years for alleged offenders who knowingly persuade, induce, entice, or coerce any individual to travel in interstate or foreign commerce to engage in prostitution or criminal sexual activity. The punishment is up to 30 years for alleged offenders who arrange, induce, procure, or facilitate, for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain, the travel of a person knowing that such a person is traveling in interstate commerce or foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct.
  • The PROTECT Act — The shorter name for the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003. The PROTECT Act authorized fines and/or up to 30 years in prison for alleged offenders who engage in sex tourism. The term “sex tourism” is defined to include commercial sex with or sexual abuse of anyone under 18 years of age, or any sex with anyone under 16 years of age. It also established mandatory life imprisonment for alleged sex offenders who were convicted of sex offenses against minors if they were previously convicted of abuse against a minor.

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Federal Child Pornography Charges in Texas

Because so much child pornography is sent and received through the internet, these types of criminal charges are frequently considered to involve interstate commerce. Alleged offenders can easily face very stiff criminal charges, depending on the specifically alleged activity:

  • Possession of Child Pornography — Under 18 U.S. Code §§ 2252 and 2252A, a first offense can result in up to 10 years in prison. If an alleged offender has been previously convicted of a sex offense, then this crime is punishable by a minimum sentence of 10 years up to 20 years in prison.
  • Transportation, Receipt, Distribution, or Possession with Intent to Distribute or Sell Child Pornography— Under 18 U.S. Code §§ 2252 and 2252A, a first offense can result in a minimum sentence of five years up to 20 years in prison. If an alleged offender has been previously convicted of a sex offense, then this crime is punishable by a minimum sentence of 15 years up to 40 years in prison. 
  • Possession of Obscene Visual Representations of the Sexual Abuse of Children— Under 18 U.S. Code § 1466A, a first offense can result in up to 10 years in prison. If an alleged offender has been previously convicted of a sex offense, then this crime is punishable by a minimum sentence of 10 years up to 20 years in prison.
  • Receipt, Distribution, or Production of Obscene Visual Representations of the Sexual Abuse of Children— Under 18 U.S. Code § 1466A, a first offense can result in a minimum sentence of five years up to 20 years in prison. If an alleged offender has been previously convicted of a sex offense, then this crime is punishable by a minimum sentence of 15 years up to 40 years in prison.

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Federal Sex Crime Resources

The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) — As part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, this site was renamed in honor of the 22-year-old North Dakota college student who was kidnapped and murdered by a sex offender registered in Minnesota. You can read more about Sjodin’s story on this website, but there are also answers to frequently asked questions, education and prevention resources, and an interactive map of public registry sites.

Polaris Project — This is a nonprofit organization that works directly with human trafficking victims. You can learn more about Polaris and what the organization does on this website, but there are also press releases, news items, and a media kit. Additionally, the website also has a section dedicated to ways to take action.

Federal Statutes Relating to Crimes Against Children — This page on the website of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) features links to summaries for crimes against children from the Federal Criminal Code and Rules under Title 18 of the United States Code. There are six different sex-related offenses in these listings.


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Find a Federal Sex Crime Lawyer in Houston

Do you believe that you are currently under investigation or have you already been arrested in Texas for an alleged federal sex offense? You should not delay in seeking legal representation, and Matt Horak is a criminal defense attorney in Houston, TX who will work tirelessly to get these criminal charges significantly reduced or completely dismissed.

Horak Law defends clients against federal charges in United States District Courts throughout the Southern District of Texas, including residents of such areas as Pasadena, Sugar Land, Conroe, League City, Pearland, Richmond-Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands, Galveston, and Missouri City. Contact our firm today by calling us at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 to receive a complete review of your case during a free initial consultation.

Matt Horak is experienced in helping clients fight charges of committing a sexually motivated crime throughout the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, including the Houston Division and the Galveston Division.


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Our Office in The Woodlands
1790 Hughes Landing Blvd #400 The Woodlands, TX 77380 (281) 907-4990
Our Office in Houston
5300 Memorial Dr #750 A Houston, TX 77007 (713) 225-8000
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Matt Horak Matt Horak is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2014