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Name: United States v. Dhingra
Case #: 03-10001
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 06/08/2004

Appellant was a 40-year-old man who made contact with a 14-year-old girl on the internet, and began exchanging sexual instant messages. After a week or two, he arranged to meet the girl and had a consensual sexual encounter with her. Then he took her to his car, where he forced her to have sexual intercourse. Appellant was convicted of a violation of U.S.C. section 2422(b), for using a means of interstate commerce to entice a minor into engaging in sexual activity. On appeal, he argued that section 2422(b) was void for vagueness because it is unclear whether culpability is contingent on the minor’s actions, or those of the defendant. The appellate court rejected the claim, finding that a person of ordinary intelligence could understand that liability doesn’t depend on whether the minor engaged in sexual activity, but whether the defendant sought such activity from the minor. Appellant also argued that the statute is overbroad because it criminalizes the content of speech. The appellate court also rejected that argument, finding that it is conduct which is proscribed by the statute, not speech. “Speech is merely the vehicle through which a pedophile ensnares the victim.” The clear language of the statute requires the combination of these elements: knowing inducement of a minor to engage in sexual activity which is a criminal offense. Nor does the inducement of minors to engage in illegal sexual activity enjoy a First Amendment Protection.