If a person lives in a state where the age of sexual consent is, for example, 16 and is dating a 16- or 17-year-old in another state where the age of consent is also 16, that would violate this federal law, even though any particular activity the two people may engage in would be legal in both their states.This law also makes it illegal for a foreign married couple in which one or both spouses is under 18 to honeymoon in the United States!Since marriage is a legal contract, there are, of course, certain requirements that must be met for the marriage to be valid.Before a couple can be married in Arizona, they must have a marriage license and be of legal age to be married.Where the state age of consent is lower, this creates the irony that photographing a legal act can now be illegal.This law creates federal jurisdiction for virtually any occurrence of child pornography in the US by covering anything that was made using materials that crossed a state or national border.
For details, see the background report, Age Analysis of Recent US Sex Laws. In all three cases, the federal age of consent established is 18. The PROTECT Act, §105(a)(b), establishes an age of consent of 18 for travel into or out of the country or between states for the purpose of a sexual encounter.
Questions of Law The author is not an attorney and poses the following questions in case a reader of this report has the expertise to provide answers or helpful comments.
Have there been any complaints that the federal prosecution of pornography cases invades the states jurisdiction?
Activities so prohibited generally include any sexually motivated contact with the genitals of either person by the other, and may extend to related areas, such as exposure of genitals and lascivious talk.
The minimum ages are called ages of consent because the basis of the laws is that the activity is deemed to require consent and a person below the given age is deemed psychologically incapable of granting such consent.
The law does not apply to a foreign visitor who leaves the United States in order to have a sexual encounter with a juvenile elsewhere. The PROTECT Act, §105(a)(c), modified the law against "sex tourism" and establishes an age of consent of 18 for Americans engaging in any sexual encounter outside the USA.