Citizen's Guide To U.S. Federal Law On Child Sexual Abuse

18 U.S.C. § 2241– Aggravated sexual abuse
18 U.S.C. § 2242– Sexual abuse
18 U.S.C. § 2243– Sexual abuse of a minor or ward
18 U.S.C. § 2244– Abusive sexual contact

          Except in limited circumstances, federal laws typically do not apply to child sexual abuse matters that takes place wholly inside a single state.  These matters are therefore generally handled by state or local authorities and prosecuted under state laws.  However, if the sexual abuse of a child occurred on federal lands, the offense may be prosecuted under federal law.  Federal lands include areas such as military bases, Indian territories, and other government– owned lands or properties (See 18 U.S.C. §7).

          Under federal law, offenders convicted of sexually abusing a child face fines and imprisonment.  Furthermore, an offender may face harsher penalties if the crime occurred in aggravated circumstances, which include, for example, the offender used force or threats, inflicted serious bodily injury or death, or kidnapped a child in the process of committing child sexual abuse.

Updated May 28, 2020

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