- Report Published -
|Indecent Liberties and Prostitution-Related Offenses Involving Children|
|Virginia State Crime Commission|
|HJR 97 (Regular Session, 2010)|
|During the 2010 Session of the Virginia General Assembly, Delegate David Bulova introduced House Joint Resolution 97 (HJR 97), directing the Crime Commission to study a number of criminal justice issues connected with the problems of taking indecent liberties and prostitution-related offenses involving children. (*1) Specifically, the Crime Commission was directed to collect and review recent data related to the crimes of indecent liberties, prostitution, prostitution involving children, and the failure by employers to pay wages to employees. In addition, the Crime Commission also examined whether any of the recently enacted human trafficking criminal statutes have yet been utilized by prosecutors. To comply with this study request, data was obtained from the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission (Sentencing Commission), the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, the Virginia State Police, and the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).|
The information obtained reveals that the majority of defendants who are convicted of the crime of indecent liberties, or indecent liberties committed by a person in a custodial or supervisory relationship (hereinafter referred to as indecent liberties by a custodian), received a punishment involving active incarceration versus probation alone. Of the defendants who received incarceration, slightly more received a prison term (more than 12 months incarceration) than a jail term (12 months or less incarceration). When imposing a sentence for these two crimes, judges are more likely to depart from the recommended sentence provided by the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines than is the reported rate for Guidelines compliance for crimes overall. In particular, judges are more likely to depart upwards from the recommended sentence (i.e., impose a heavier punishment).
The number of prosecutions and convictions for misdemeanor prostitution crimes has remained relatively stable over the past five years. The number of prosecutions and convictions for felony prostitution crimes has remained somewhat stable, and is much lower – there were fewer than fifteen convictions throughout the state in any particular year. The number of juveniles arrested for prostitution or prostitution-related offenses is even smaller (less than five per year). Fewer than ten juveniles a year have formal criminal charges initiated against them for prostitution offenses. Conversations with staff at the DJJ support these figures; anecdotally, very few juveniles who are discovered to have engaged in prostitution are formally charged. Instead, every effort is made by staff to provide these juveniles with appropriate counseling and treatment.
While the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry receives over five hundred complaints per year that are deemed valid from employees who have not been paid by their employers, almost none of these cases are prosecuted criminally under Va. Code § 40.1-29. Further, the national origin or immigration status of individuals who file such complaints is not collected. Finally, the three recently enacted criminal offenses aimed at combating human trafficking, Va. Code §§ 18.2-59(iii), 18.2-59(iv), and 18.2-47(B), do not appear to have been used; the Sentencing Commission reports that there have been no prosecutions or convictions for these crimes.
(*1) H.J.R. 97, 2010 Gen. Assem., Reg. Sess. (Va. 2010). See Attachment 1.