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Student Staff Update: Trayce Hockstad

By October 26, 2015December 16th, 2019Shared Hope, Student Staff
One of the organizations Regent Law’s Center for Global Justice works closely with is Shared Hope. This group focuses on developing legal strategies and policies to end sexual exploitation and trafficking in various places across the globe.

Currently, Shared Hope is attempting to aid the passage of a Hawaii statute that would facilitate the prosecution of criminal defendants charged with commercial sexual exploitation of children. However, opponents to the proposed statute argue that there are constitutional risks to defendants, primarily in the context of double jeopardy violations, that would cause the statute to merge with other existing criminal codes and thus would be irrelevant.

This fall, I’ve been researching the rather convoluted legal principle of merger, sometimes called the “lesser included offense doctrine.” The tradition of merging two criminal defenses together when one is necessarily included in the other has been around since early common law practice in England. However, states have interpreted and applied this concept in a variety of ways, creating inconsistent treatment in American jurisdiction.

Our goal is to provide Shared Hope with research on Hawaii’s treatment of the doctrine of merger so that the next time the statute is presented and the objection raised, the proponents of the bill will be better equipped to explain that the merger doctrine does not bar the statute from being passed or create a risk of impinging the constitutional rights of defendants.  Instead, the proposed statute will be another step in the right direction of ending commercial sexual exploitation of children.