Human trafficking is the legal name for slavery, but human trafficking laws in California aren’t limited to only involuntary servitude. In fact, if you violate California’s pimping and pandering laws and the prostitute in question is a minor, you could also be charged with violating human trafficking laws in California, even if you did not force the minor in any way. If you have been accused of this serious offense, it is critical you contact a San Diego human trafficking defense attorney as soon as possible.
Sex Trafficking Crimes in California
Under California, someone has committed human trafficking if they deprived someone of their personal liberty in order to obtain forced labor or services. You can also be charged if you deprived someone of their personal liberty with the intent to violate the state’s laws against pimping and pandering, child pornography, extortion or blackmail, and other laws regarding commercial sex acts and child exploitation. You can even be charged if you try to persuade a minor to engage in commercial sex acts with the intent to violate one of the previously mentioned laws.
In other words, if you received a commission from a brothel for recruiting new prostitutes and you convinced a 17 year old to become a prostitute so she could pay off her family’s debts, you could be convicted of human trafficking, even if the girl was all too eager to do the work. Similarly, if a company imported Chinese workers to sew clothes in an illegal sweatshop and wouldn’t let them leave under threat of injury, someone who just watched the workers to make sure they didn’t leave could also be accused of human trafficking, even if they didn’t actually force the people to work.
Penalties for Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a very serious felony charge. If you are convicted of human trafficking for the purposes of obtaining forced labor or services, you could face between 5 and 12 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $500,000.
If you are convicted of a human trafficking related to commercial sex, child pornography, extortion or a similar crime, you could be sentenced to anywhere between 8 and 20 years in prison, be required to pay fines up to $500,000 and be required to register as a sex offender. If you persuaded a minor to engage in commercial sex acts, you could be sentenced to 5 to 12 years in prison, but if you used force, fear, violence or threatened to injure the victim, then the sentence could be anywhere from 15 years to life. Additionally, those who persuade minors to engage in commercial sex acts will also face fines of up to $500,000 and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
Fighting The Charges
If you have been accused of human trafficking, you need to take these charges seriously. Depending on the facts and circumstances, a good San Diego sex trafficking attorney may be able to have the charges reduced to a much less serious offense. In some cases, you may be able to avoid a conviction altogether because you were falsely accused or there is insufficient evidence to prove your guilty.
It is worth realizing that it can be very easy to say something that may hurt your defense when you have been accused of a crime of this magnitude. This is why you should always refuse to speak to the police without your lawyer present. If you know you are under investigation, you may also want to avoid speaking with the alleged victim as they may call you with the police listening in on the conversation. Also, since these are cases also made through seizure and analysis of phones and emails, so it is important to have a lawyer knowledgeable about search and seizure laws.
If you believe you are under investigation for violating human trafficking laws in California, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss.
Image by Engin Akyurt