Public attention has centered on the crime of “Human trafficking” in recent years, and the California criminal justice system has moved to aggressively punish suspected cases.

los angeles criminal defense lawyerIn 2012, California voters approved Proposition 35. This new law expanded the definition of human trafficking to include distribution of child pornography, and it substantially increased punishment for human trafficking cases.

For example, if you are now convicted of trafficking children, you can now face a life sentence in California State Prison.

In cases where human trafficking or sex trafficking crosses state lines, California investigators also work closely with federal agencies to pursue and punish traffickers. That’s why if you or someone you love has been suspected of human trafficking, it is so important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Your freedom could depend on it.

What is ‘Human trafficking?’

In order to convict you of human trafficking, a prosecutor will have to prove that certain facts of the case were true. These are often called the “elements of the crime.”

California Penal Code 236.1 PC defines human trafficking with two elements:

    1. Violating or depriving someone else of personal liberty. This refers to any case of restricting a person’s basic liberties by fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress or threat of injury.
    2. With the intent to:
      1. Obtain forced labor or services,
      2. Procure or sell the person for sex,
      3. Or exploit them for obscene purposes.

This is a very broad definition, and it means that crimes like pimping, pandering, abduction, blackmail and distribution of child pornography can all fit under the definition of human trafficking.

The Federal Government has passed a number of laws that punish human trafficking across state lines and internationally, as well as penalize the sale or profit from goods produced by human trafficking.

Depending on the facts of your case, you can be charged federally or under state law.

Penalties for ‘Human trafficking’

Human trafficking is always punished as a felony in California. If you are convicted, you could face punishments of:

  • 8, 14, or 20 years in California State Prison
  • Fines of up to $500,000

If the case involves minors, punishments include:

  • 5, 8 or 12 years in California State Prison
  • 15 years to life imprisonment in California State Prison if the case involved “force, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, menace or threat of unlawful injury” 
  • Fines of up to $500,000

Federal penalties can include:

  • Up to 20 years in Federal Prison for human trafficking cases
  • Up to life imprisonment for trafficking children

Defenses against ‘Human trafficking’ charges

“This man is a very effective criminal defense attorney. I was charged but I never had to go to court because the case was thrown out thanks to his efforts. I was very worried because I didn’t know anyone who could confirm my location, but he was able to prove that I was innocent.”
Jason, CA

As we mentioned above, human trafficking cases are deadly serious. Both the Federal Government and California state government have far reaching powers to aggressively investigate and punish human trafficking and sex trafficking cases.

If you have been suspected of human trafficking, it’s important to work with an attorney who specializes in federal and sex crimes cases. 

An experienced attorney can thoroughly comb through the facts of your case and bring important pieces of evidence and witness testimony to light. In the case of human trafficking, this often involves investigating how authorities gathered evidence and implicated you in the incident.

Robert M. Helfend is a SuperLawyers rated attorney, renowned for his expertise in federal and sex crimes cases. Call today for your case evaluation — 800-834-6434.