House Bill 94 will help prevent buyers of sex with children from avoiding serious penalties. This bill would amend New Hampshire’s prostitution offense to increase penalties for buyers of sex with children. Additionally, House Bill 94 would amend New Hampshire’s sex trafficking statute to buyers of sex with children from avoiding penalties by asserting a defense based on mistake of age or consent of the minor to the sex act. If enacted, House Bill 94 would reflect New Hampshire’s ongoing commitment to creating statutory changes that reflect the serious role buyers play in fueling the sex trafficking industry.
Increasing penalties for buyers provides both an effective deterrent and means of holding these perpetrators accountable for the serious harm they inflict on children. Raising the offense of buying sex with children to a Class B felony under the prostitution statute acknowledges that buyers are also serious offenders, since they drive the demand for commercial sex with children. Furthermore, preventing buyers from asserting a mistake of age or consent of the minor as a defense prioritizes the safety and protection of the child, rather than the perpetrator of the crime. Such steps will facilitate successful prosecutions of buyers, as prosecutors will no longer be required to overcome a defense that buyer did not know the age of the child or that the child consented to the sex act. This aligns with the values that our society has long upheld– that the protection of children is of great importance and necessity.
Please join us in supporting HB 94 and asking New Hampshire legislators to demonstrate their commitment to protecting victims and holding buyers accountable.
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