Federal authorities can quickly get involved in a criminal investigation if police believe that a suspect traveled across state lines with the intention of committing a crime. Drug trafficking is one of the most common types of interstate offenses, but an allegation of traveling across state lines with the intention of committing a sex crime can also carry a federal status.
As you might expect, proof of intent figures largely in such cases, and it may be possible, in a person's defense, to show that the prosecution's claims of intent are doubtful. Other factors that can determine the outcome of this sort of case include the seriousness of the alleged offense and the defendant's prior criminal record, if he or she has one.
A 28-year-old man from Oakdale, Pennsylvania, is accused of traveling to West Virginia with plans to have sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl. A federal prosecutor claimed that the man, who is a commercial airline pilot, misrepresented himself as a 17-year-old on a website and communicated with the teen. The man is accused of sending sexually explicit images to the girl and arranging to meet her near her residence in West Virginia.
A criminal complaint alleges that the man took the teen to a hotel and had sex with her.
The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the local sheriff's department.
In this case, the maximum possible penalty is a 30-year prison sentence. However, federal guidelines give judges significant discretion in sentencing, depending on the facts of the case. People accused of federal sex crimes will need a strong defense to minimize the negative consequences.
Source: The Intelligencer, "Police: Pilot Had Sex With Teen Girl," Fred Connors, Feb. 13, 2014