It is as a result of the fear initiated by human trafficking on Americans that investigators are always quick to label anyone accused with this serious sex offense as guilty and dangerous. Similarly, judges and juries will have little remorse when handling your case, particularly if your name has been dragged through the media before your hearing commences. Generally, penalties for a federal human trafficking conviction can be extremely harsh and may include substantial fines, lengthy prison sentences, possible asset forfeiture, and compensation to victims. Apart from the tremendous social stigma, a purported offender feels once they have been charged, the prosecutor who brings these charges will aggressively advocate for the maximum probable punishment.
These allegations can tarnish your image and impinge your freedom for the rest of your life if you fail to take the right measures once you are arrested, charged, or under investigation. To avoid these damages, it is imperative to be prepared to fight the prosecution with the right resource available. A seasoned Sex Crime Attorney can be a great resource given the complexity of your case. Our attorneys will not only be aggressive with litigants but will also hit them hard and faster than they can manage. We will advise you on the best steps to take to safeguard yourself from the public and the scrutinizing eyes of the federal criminal justice system. We are recognized throughout the country for being steadfast in protecting our clients regardless of the harshness of the charges. Contact us today at 888-666-8480 for a free, legal consultation.h2/The Federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (h2/
There are several provisions in the United States Code that target trafficking of persons, which is also referred to as forced labor or involuntary servitude/slavery. The provisions are found in Chapter 77 of Title 18, also referred to as Chapter 77 offenses. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 was later on added to the existing laws and further provided new tools to fight against human trafficking. According to the TVPA, trafficking is defined as knowingly obtaining or recruiting another person for the purpose of sex or labor. Both Texas and Washington passed decrees comparable to the federal provisions in 2003. Despite the absence of anti-trafficking statutes in Minnesota, issues are addressed under suitability for welfare benefits.
Given that state laws are still in their infancy stage, it is not easy to generate dependable statistics on prosecutions. The federal laws have been the basis for numerous prosecutions since they were passed. The statutes delineate two types of trafficking differentiated by whether the casualty is used for labor or sex purposes. As described earlier, trafficking transpires when an individual knowingly harbors, provides, obtains, or recruits another person by illegal means.
Sex Trafficking of Minors
Sex trafficking of a minor happens when the offender traffics a casualty with the purpose of using them in a commercial sex act knowing that his/her subject is below 18 years of age. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1591 one may be convicted of sex trafficking of children if they directly traffic minors or obtain financial or other benefits from the act. The particular conditions for commercial sex act include the use of coercion, fraud, or force, or any act involving minors. If convicted of a crime that involves a casualty believed to be below 14 years old, your punishment could be serving life imprisonment. If you have been convicted of a conduct involving a casualty of age ranging between 14 and 18 years, you are likely to serve 40 years.
In the event that the casualty is an adult, sex trafficking is punishable only if the offender traffics an individual with the knowledge that fraud, intimidation, or force will be applied for the victim to engage in a commercial sex act. Just like sex trafficking of minors, one may be penalized for sex trafficking of an adult either by directly trafficking individuals or obtaining benefits from the engagement in a trafficking venture
Under the statute, trafficking individuals for purposes of labor is referred to as Trafficking as Regards to Slavery, Forced Labor, Peonage, or Involuntary Servitude. The victim in this type of trafficking is used for labor or services in desecration of chapter 77 of 18 U.S.C. § 1590. In essence, chapter 77 discourses all crimes linked to peonage; sale into involuntary servitude; enticement into slavery; vessels for slave trade; detention, seizure, transportation or sale of slaves; possession of slaves aboard vessel; forced labor; and transportation of slaves from U.S service on vessels in slave trade.
Definition of Terms and The Related Laws
According to Section 1584 of Title 18, it is illegal to hold an individual in a condition of slavery, which means a condition of mandatory labor or service against their will. Conviction under this statute requires that the casualty be held against their will by threats of force, threats of legal coercion, or actual force. The section further forbids compelling an individual to work against their will by either creating a “climate of fear” which is sufficient to compel service against an individual’s free will.
Section 1589 of Title 18, which was enacted as part of the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act states that it is illegal to obtain or provide labor or services of an individual through either of the three prohibited means. Section 1589 expands the definition of the type of coercion that might lead to forced labor. As such anyone who knowledgeably obtains or provides the services or labor of another person by;
- means of threatened abuse or abuse of the legal process or the law
- threats of or physical restraint against or serious harm to that individual or another individual
- means of any plan or scheme meant to have the individual to believe that, if they didn’t comply or perform such labor or services, that individual or another person would be subjected to physical restraint or severe harm
Trafficking as Regards to Slavery, Peonage, Forced Labor, or Involuntary Servitude
Under Section 1592 it is unlawful to take hold of documents belonging to another person with the intention of forcing them to work or engage in commercial sex. The section covers both false and authentic documents given that it recognizes that casualties are frequently restrained by seizing of whatever documents they possess regardless of whether the documents are fraudulent or counterfeit. This section further broadens the scope of federal trafficking decrees to control individuals who take the advantages of vulnerabilities of immigrant casualties by controlling their documents.
Under 18 U.S. Code 1592 any person who knowingly conceals, destroys, confiscates, eradicates, or possesses any purported or actual passport or other immigration papers, or any other government identification papers of another person in order to prevent the person’s right to travel or move, with the intention of upholding the services of that individual, at time when the person is or has been subject to serious form of trafficking is guilty of a crime. An offender may be fined or imprisoned for a maximum of 5 years or both.
Possible Penalties under Federal Trafficking Statutes
A human trafficker may face up to life in prison depending on the circumstances of the case. Any person convicted of trafficking for labor purposes may be punished by a maximum of 20 years in prison, a fine, or both. In the event that trafficking for labor purposes involves either attempted homicide, death, attempted kidnapping, kidnapping, attempted aggravated sexual abuse, or aggravated sexual abuse, the maximum sentence the offender shall face is life in prison.
Also, depending on the circumstances of the case, the punishments for sex trafficking vary. If the conduct did not involve fraud, force, or coercion and the casualty is proven to be between ages 14 and 18, the punishment is a maximum of 40 years in prison, a fine, or both. In the event that either force, intimidation, or fraud is applied, the maximum prison sentence is increased to life in the federal prison. Likewise, if the victim is proven to be below 14 years, the sentence is life imprisonment.
There are several aggravating factors considered during sentencing and this may include whether:
- The respondent has shown a pattern of continuous violations;
- The respondent has in the past been charged with or convicted of human trafficking offenses;
- The victim suffered bodily injury in the course of the trafficking;
- The offense resulted in the death of an individual;
- The accused threatened to use or used a dangerous weapon in committing the crime;
- The defendant was a public official;
- Several victims were involved; and
- The victim was kept in captivity for more than 180 days
Irrespective of the amount of the time that has passed since the crime supposedly happened, charges can be raised at any given time since the federal human trafficking offenses lack statute of limitations.
In addition, the TVPA provides guidelines for additional implications following a conviction for forced labor, involuntary servitude, and sex trafficking. These include:
- Mandatory compensation- This provision permits the court to order the offender to pay the victim the full amount of damages, including the gross income from the victim’s labor or service.
- Property Forfeiture- The court has the authority to order the convicted individual to forfeit to the U.S. any personal property used or intended to be utilized to commit or enable the trafficking violation. This also covers proceeds connected to the violations.
- Civil Remedy- A trafficking victim can bring a civil action against any individual involved in a trafficking violation in any district court of U.S. that has jurisdiction in order to recuperate compensations and reasonable attorney fees.
- Fraud and Misuse of Travel and Identity Documents- Anyone who knowingly forges, supplies, or uses another individual’s identity, permits border crossing cards, alien registration receipt cards, possesses blank permits, or fraudulently applies for any immigrant or nonimmigrant visas, is guilty of trafficking violations and can be fined and face a maximum of 25 years in federal prison.
Also, for respondents who are not United States citizens, human trafficking can result in their deportation. After deportation to their country of origin, the offender could be subjected to prosecution on arrival.
Possible Legal Defense for Human Trafficking Charges
This kind of trafficking charges can make the offender feel as though they are guilty even before setting their foot in a courtroom. Here are some of the legal defenses that if well thought of could help reduce or dismiss charges against them.
- You were not involved in any kind of human trafficking
- You are a victim of false accusations
- Illegitimate search and seizure
- You had no financial inducement
- Lack of probable cause
- You were uninformed of casualty’s immigration status
- Absence of evidence
Generally, it is not an effective defense to argue that you had the victim’s consent. In fact, bringing that up makes the situation worse and may appear that you agree to have committed the heinous act.
Contact Sex Crime Attorney for Assistance with Your Case
Human trafficking is considered a modern slave trade. Sex trafficking is even more egregious since it combines sex crimes and slavery. The immoral impetus of such crimes is obvious and horrific, and for this reason, law enforcement and prosecutors know that by advocating for severe punishments and stirring public fear, they can earn more points. As such, it is never right to assume that just because someone has been arrested or accused of trafficking for labor or service that he or she is guilty.
In most cases, trafficking cases depend upon the reliability and credibility of victims. But like all other criminal cases, the prosecutors bear the burden of proof. Therefore, anyone facing such charges must be willing to hire counsel with significant experience in investigations and trial of federal trafficking cases. At Sex Crime Attorney, we will scrutinize the case against you and point out any flaws in it. Combining our in-depth knowledge and experience, we can build a strong defense strategy and fight nail and tooth to get the charges acquitted or reduced.
If you or a loved is facing charges associated with sex trafficking, involuntary servitude, or forced labor, contact Sex Criminal Attorney today at 888-666-8480, for free, no-obligation consultation. We will discuss the facts of your case, legal issues involved, probable implications of the allegations, our approach to your case, and the defenses that apply to your case. We are just a call away.