United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Sex Trafficking – interstate commerce — jury instructions
A defendant’s knowledge of the interstate commerce implications of his conduct need not be proven for conviction for sex trafficking under 18 U.S.C. 1591(a).
“[W]e can think of no reason Congress would have gutted the law by limiting prosecutions to the surely trifling number of sex traffickers who know, for example, that using a hotel room or out-of-state condoms affects interstate commerce as that term is understood in constitutional law. Nothing in the statute’s legislative history suggests such an intent, and the wrongfulness of a sex trafficker’s conduct is not mitigated because he is unfamiliar with the boundaries of Congress’s constitutional powers. See Lindemann, 85 F.3d at 1241 (‘Whether the defendant knows that his conduct involves an “interstate nexus” adds nothing to the gravity of the offense that he is committing.’). Sawyer points us to legislative history showing Congress’s focus on international sex trafficking, but we do not see how that advances his position.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Kocoras, J., Hamilton, J.