Although it seems strange, several families are separated yearly as their loved ones are abducted and coerced into human trafficking. Sex trafficking and human trafficking are types of modern-day slave trade that can attract harsh penalties in the federal legal justice system.
That is why you need a profound and experienced defense attorney with the skills and expertise to examine and find a weakness in the prosecutor’s case against you. If your defense attorney can create or raise a reasonable doubt on the prosecutor’s case against you, you could have a better chance at avoiding the possible conviction.
At Sex Crimes Attorney, we understand that even without a conviction, allegations that you are a suspect in a crime that involves the trafficking of children can ruin your reputation. If you are under investigation or arrest for an alleged sex trafficking of children offense in California, our sex crime attorneys are to help.
We can negotiate with the prosecutor to dismiss your charge or reduce it to a less severe offense with lighter penalties.
Human Trafficking at a Glance
As the name suggests, you commit the crime of human trafficking when you trade people of any gender and age for forced labor, sexual reproductive slavery, or sexual exploitation. Penal Code (PC) 296.1 covers the legal definition and the penalties you can face upon a conviction for human trafficking. According to this statute, you commit the crime of human trafficking when you do the following:
- Violate and deprive another person’s liberty with the intent to force him/her to labor or perform particular services (PC 236.1(a)).
- Violate or deprive another person’s liberty with the criminal intent or motive to violate one or several sex-based laws, including pandering, pimping, and child pornography (PC 231.6(b)).
- Persuade, induce, coerce, or fraudulently cause a minor (someone under eighteen years) to participate or engage in commercial sex or prostitution (PC 236.1(c)).
All the above acts can attract human trafficking charges under PC 291.1. However, in this article, we will specifically cover the crime of sex trafficking of children under PC 236.1(c), which has become common.
Like any other sex crime against children, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges are harsh on sex trafficking crimes that involve minors or children. Below are some of the acts that can attract sex trafficking of children charges under PC 236.1(c):
- Persuading or coercing a 16-year girl to work for another person or agency as a prostitute, panderer, or pimp.
- Abducting a minor and forcing him/her to play a role in pornographic videos.
Elements the Prosecutor Must Prove for a PC 236.1(c) Violation Conviction
At the trial phase of the legal justice system, the prosecutor must prove particular facts, also known as elements of the crime, to obtain a conviction against you for a PC 236.1(c) violation. The elements of the crime under this statute include the following:
- You did induce, coerce or fraudulently cause an underage to engage in commercial sex acts.
- You had the intent or motive to commit a sex-based crime, including:
- Employing minors to engage or participate in child pornography.
- Enticing a female aged below 18 to engage in prostitution.
- Transporting and distribution of child pornography.
- Procurement of a minor to engage in lascivious or lewd acts.
- Printing, duplicating, exchanging, or developing child pornography.
- Advertising obscene material.
The legal definition of human trafficking under PC 236.1(c) differs from other sections of PC 236.1 because you could be guilty of the offense even if you did not deprive the minor’s liberty. As long as the prosecutor has adequate evidence to prove the above elements beyond a reasonable doubt, the court will convict you for a PC 236.1(c) violation.
It is worth noting that you could be guilty of human trafficking even when you honestly believed that the involved child was above 18 years old.
Sentencing Hearing and Potential Penalties for a PC 236.1(c) Violation Conviction
Upon a PC 236.1(c) violation conviction, the court will hold a sentencing hearing to determine and craft an appropriate and fair sentence. At the sentencing hearing, the prosecutor and your defense attorney will be present to help the court decide the appropriate punishment for your conviction.
The prosecutor will raise arguments to show the court you deserve a harsh sentence for your conviction. Conversely, your defense attorney provides mitigating arguments to convince the jury or judge you deserve the minimum sentence possible. Although every case is different, your sentence for a PC 236.1(c) violation could include the following:
Although not every defendant qualifies for formal probation, if you are a first-time offender and your attorney is aggressive and skilled, you could qualify for felony probation. Felony probation or parole is an alternative sentence that could work in your favor instead of imprisonment for the alleged violation conviction.
Unfortunately, a PC 236.1(c) violation conviction carries a lengthy prison sentence. If the prosecutor obtains a conviction against you for a PC 236.1(c) violation, the court will sentence you to five, eight, or twelve years in prison.
When the prosecutor proves that you had to use fraud, deceit, fear, coercion, menace, violence, or threat of illegal injury to the child (victim), your potential sentence for a PC 236.1(c) violation could increase to up to 15 years.
A conviction for a PC 236.1(c) violation will carry a hefty fine amounting to up to $500,000.
Aggravating Factors That Can Increase Your Sentence for a PC 236.1(c) Violation Conviction
A PC 236.1(c) violation conviction will attract an additional and consecutive prison time on top of the above standard sentence if your case has particular aggravating factors, including:
The Victim Sustained a Bodily
If the victim sustained a severe bodily injury when committing the offense, the court would sentence you to an additional and consecutive five, seven, or ten years behind bars.
You Have Prior Convictions
When you have past convictions for human trafficking, a conviction for a PC 236.1(c) violation can attract an additional and consecutive five years in prison for each past conviction.
Your Offense Was Gang-Related
If you are charged with a PC 236.1(c) violation, and the prosecutor alleges that your reason for committing the crime was to benefit a criminal street gang, the court will add a sentencing enhancement.
According to PC 186.322, you could face an additional and consecutive two, three, or four years in prison on top of the required standard jail term for a PC 236.1(c) violation conviction. However, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your offense is gang-related to receive this sentencing enhancement.
Associated Collateral Consequences of a Conviction Under PC 236.1(c)
Aside from the above standard penalties of a PC 236.1(c) violation conviction, there are more collateral negative consequences you should expect, including:
A PC 236.1(c) violation conviction can make you lose your property. Asset forfeiture laws allow the government or court to seize your property if there is enough evidence that you used it in furtherance or commission of a crime. Specifically, when you are guilty of a PC 236.1(c) violation, the state can seize the following:
- Any of your property, including money, real estate, vehicles, and boats that you had to use to facilitate or make the sex trafficking of children possible.
- Any property or asset that you acquired using proceeds or earnings of the trafficking.
Mandatory Lifetime Obligation to Register as a Sex Offender
Regardless of the severity of your offense, a PC 236.1(c) violation will attract a mandatory lifetime obligation to register as a sex offender because it is a tier three offense under PC 290. According to this law, if your conviction requires inclusion in the sex offender registry, you must:
- Go to a local sheriff or police station, mostly by appointment.
- Submit a detailed report, including your:
- Full name and aliases.
- Telephone numbers.
- Home address.
- Employment information (for those who have a job).
- Identifying information, including tattoos and scars.
- Vehicle information.
- Be photographed.
- Be fingerprinted.
- Carry an up-to-date registration receipt on your person every time.
Also, PC 290 requires you to re-register with local law enforcement officers annually within five days of your birthday or whenever you change your residence. Aside from the lifetime obligation to re-register as a sex offender, inclusion in the sex offender registry can make it difficult to move or relocate to your preferred neighborhood.
A Criminal Record
Like other criminal charges, a PC 236.1(c) violation conviction will be part of your criminal record, meaning potential landlords or employers will know about the conviction. Aside from the social stigma associated with having a criminal record, a conviction history can also negatively affect your career prospects, like your professional license and employment eligibility.
How Your Attorney Can Help You Fight the Alleged PC 236.1(c) Violation
As you can see above, a PC 236.1(c) violation conviction can jeopardize your freedom and quality of life. Hence, it is critical to work with a skilled and experienced attorney if you or a loved one is in trouble with the law for an alleged PC 236.1(c) violation.
A seasoned defense attorney can thoroughly access and examine the facts of your unique case and bring critical evidence and witnesses that can help you challenge the charge for the best possible outcome.
Explained below are some of the defenses your attorney could apply to the alleged PC 236.1(c) violation to convince the court to drop or reduce the charge to an alternative, lighter offense:
You are a Victim of False Allegations
In certain circumstances, a skilled defense attorney could argue that you are the victim of false accusations, meaning you did not commit or take part in the alleged charge. Even lawmakers understand the possibility of being a victim of false allegations in these cases.
For instance, when a person wants to gain favorable treatment or sympathy from you, he/she can falsely accuse you of violating PC 236.1(c) to satisfy his/her interests. If your defense attorney can convince the court that you are a victim of false allegations, you could go without a conviction or with a lighter charge.
You Were Wrong About the Facts of the Situation
A mistake of facts is a viable and valid defense argument in an offense that relies on the defendant knowing or realizing what he/she was doing was wrong or unlawful. Your attorney can argue with proper evidence to show the court you were wrong about the facts of the situation and obtain the best possible judgment on the alleged violation.
For instance, when you introduced the victim (a minor) to another person, you knew they would have an intimate or sexual relationship. However, you did not anticipate that a relationship could involve sex or lewd acts for money. In that situation, it is understandable that you were wrong about the facts of the entire situation.
If this defense argument works in your favor, the court could have a reason to drop or reduce the alleged violation to a less serious offense.
You are a Victim of Police Misconduct
It is not uncommon for police officers to violate the rights of suspected offenders. Police misconduct is any unlawful or inappropriate action a police officer can make while at work. Common forms of police misconduct that could apply in the alleged PC 236.1(c) violation include the following:
- Lying on police reports.
- Coerced confessions or interrogations.
- Tampering with evidence.
- False arrest.
- Racial profiling.
If your defense attorney can prove that you are a victim of any of the above forms of police misconduct, the jury could reduce or drop the alleged PC 236.1(c) violation.
The specific defenses that will work to your advantage for the best possible outcome on the alleged charge will depend on the facts of your unique case. A reliable and aggressive defense attorney is your best bet to obtain the best possible results if you are in trouble with the law for an alleged PC 236.1(c) violation.
Offenses Related to the Crime of Sex Trafficking of Children Under PC 236.1(c)
Depending on the facts of your unique case, the prosecutor can file several closely related offenses against you instead of or alongside the alleged crime of sex trafficking of children under PC 236.1(c). The crimes explained below are closely related to a PC 236.1(c) violation because they share similar elements that the prosecutor will prove in court for a conviction:
Pandering and Pimping
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the prosecutor can file a human trafficking charge against you when you deprive another person of his/her liberty with the criminal intent to commit pimping or pandering offenses.
PC 266h defines pimping as deriving revenue or any support from the earnings of another person’s prostitution services. According to this statute, the prosecutor can also file a pimping charge against you when you provide a brothel or protection services to prostitutes in exchange for a certain percentage of their proceeds or earnings.
Conversely, you commit pandering under PC 266i when you persuade or attempt to influence another person to become or remain a prostitute. The crime of pandering can occur by way of:
- Threats, violence, or promises.
- Payment of money.
- Fraud or trickery.
- Arrangement with a brothel.
If you are guilty of any of these felonies, you should expect the following penalties:
- A fine not exceeding $10,000.
- Up to six years in the prison.
- Inclusion in the sex offender registry (if the victim was a minor).
The crime of child pornography is another offense often charged alongside the alleged violation. According to PC 311, you commit this offense when you knowingly send, transport, print, duplicate, advertise, persuade, or hire children to make pornographic videos or images.
Depending on the circumstances and facts of your case, the prosecutor can pursue and file child pornography charges as either a wobbler or a felony. A wobbler is any offense chargeable and punishable as a felony or misdemeanor.
A misdemeanor child pornography charge will attract a fine of up to $2,500 and a jail term not exceeding one (1) year. However, a felony child pornography charge will attract harsher penalties upon conviction, including up to three (3) years of custody in prison.
Like any other sex offense, a child pornography conviction will also attract obligations to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement agencies.
Lewd Acts on a Child
PC 288 defines the crime of lewd acts on a child as touching a child under 18 (minor) for sexual arousal or gratification. Below are examples of acts that can attract a criminal charge under this statute:
- Magdalene kisses the inner thighs of a child she is babysitting or nannying for sexual gratification or arousal.
- Nick, an 8th-grade teacher, touches her student’s breasts through her clothes for sexual arousal.
The penalties you will face upon a conviction for a PC 288 violation will depend on the following factors:
- The child’s age.
- Whether you did use violence or force to achieve your intentions.
- Whether there was a regular or pattern of lewd acts with the child.
- Your criminal history.
A PC 288 violation is chargeable and punishable as a wobbler. Depending on the facts of your case, a PC 288 violation conviction will attract the following sentence:
- A jail term of up to ten (10) years.
- A fine amounting to up to $10,000.
According to PC 207, you commit the crime of kidnapping when you move someone a substantial distance without his/her consent using force, fear, or violence. A simple kidnapping offense is a felony carrying up to eight (8) years in prison and a fine not exceeding $10,000.
However, a PC 207 violation conviction can also result in life imprisonment if your offense has particular aggravating factors, such as:
- The victim sustained injuries.
- The victim was a child.
- The kidnapping was part of a carjacking.
- You demanded a ransom to flee the kidnapped person.
PC 647(b) makes it illegal to engage in or solicit prostitution. According to PC 647(b), the term prostitution means to engage in or perform lewd acts or sexual intercourse in exchange for compensation. Below are acts that could qualify as a solicitation of prostitution under PC 647(b):
- Stopping your car next to a hooker and asking her to engage in sexual intercourse with you for money.
- Offering a prostitute unlawful or prescription drugs in exchange for a blowjob or any other kind of lewd act.
- Asking a prostitute for sexual intercourse online and following her instructions on how to meet up and pay for it.
If you are a first-time offender, a PC 647(b) violation conviction will attract a fine not exceeding $1,000 and a six-month jail sentence.
You will need an aggressive defense attorney who understands the ins and outs of the legal justice system to help you avoid a conviction for the alleged PC 236.1(c) violation or related offenses. Even if it is impossible to obtain a dismissal or an acquittal of the alleged PC 236.1(c) violation, all hope is not lost if you have an attorney.
A skilled and seasoned sex crimes attorney can help you create reasonable doubt in the prosecutor’s case against you for a lighter charge with less severe penalties.
Find a Sex Crime Attorney Near Me
If you are under arrest or investigation for an alleged PC 236.1(c) violation in California and wondering how your case could turn out in the eyes of the law, you are in the right place. Our understanding and seasoned attorneys at Sex Crimes Attorney will happily walk you through these challenging and stressful times to help you obtain a favorable outcome on the alleged charge.
Call us at 888-666-8480 for an obligation-free consultation with our attorneys. We are skilled at what we do and can reach a favorable plea bargain depending on the unique particulars and facts of the alleged sex trafficking of children offense under PC 236.1(c).