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Los Angeles Human Trafficking lawyers

By Spodek Law Group | March 25, 2018

Since the enactment of Proposition 35 in California, the penalties for Human trafficking are very clear on the severity of consequences for conviction of this crime. The Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act (Prop 35) was placed on the 2012 ballot and voted for by 81 percent of Californians.

In California, human trafficking is defined in three ways:

  • The deprivation of the personal liberty of another human being in order to obtain any forced service or labor
  • Depriving a person of their personal liberty with intent to commit acts under the pimping, pandering, and child pornography laws. This also includes acts of blackmail and extortion, commercial sexual activity and the sexual exploitation of children
  • Attempting to persuade a minor to engage in commercial sex acts, with intent to violate laws that define those acts

Prop 35 enabled an increase in penalties for committing acts of this felony crime such as. Some of the changes include:

  • Requires those convicted of human trafficking to register as sex offenders
  • Increase of prison time of up to life imprisonment in some circumstances
  • Increases fines, including the payment to services who render aid to human trafficking victims of up to $1,500,000 in some circumstances
  • Prohibits the use of evidence of sexual conduct by a victim of human trafficking to be used against them in court

Many people don’t understand what human trafficking is or how easily it can be to fall victim to a human trafficker.

Outside of legal terms, human trafficking is modern-day slavery. The U.S. State Department reports that more than 800,000 people are trafficked in the United States alone and 80 percent of those people are women and girls. 80 percent of all human trafficking in the U.S. is for sexual exploitation while only 19 percent is for purposes of forced labor.

The many different ways people are trafficked and include:

  • Forcing a person into participating in pornography
  • Forcing a person into prostitution
  • Forcing a child into pornography
  • Forcing a person into physical labor and servitude
  • Forcing people into organ or tissue donation or harvesting their organs by force

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) reports that California has the highest reported sex-trafficking victims, with Los Angeles listed as the number one city for human trafficking on the FBI list. San Francisco and San Diego were also in the top 13 cities.

Some people are under the misconception that there is no defense for any of the crimes under the penal code for human trafficking which includes:

  • Luring a female under 18 in order for her to engage in prostitution
  • Pimping of another person
  • Pandering to another person
  • Seeking out a child under 16 in order to perform lewd or lascivious acts
  • The abduction of a person under 18 for prostitution
  • The transportation or distribution of child pornography
  • Printing, handling or exchanging child pornography
  • Employing a minor in the participation of child pornography
  • Advertising material which is considered by law to be obscene
  • Producing live performances of an obscene nature
  • Extortion and blackmail

An attorney can fight a criminal defense charge of human trafficking on the following grounds:

You were falsely accused
There have been instances where having an undocumented person employed in a home has led to human trafficking charges although the person was not forced or held against their will. Perhaps a parent innocently photographed their child in the bathtub as so many parents have done throughout the years, they placed that photo on social media and are then accused of the sexual exploitation of a child. Many innocent scenarios such as these have led to human trafficking charges.

You did not actually deprive the accuser of their liberty
It is important to remember that no evidence of force, coercion, or abuse is needed for a victim to bring a lawsuit against someone for human trafficking. If no evidence of the charges is found, the accused is released from any responsibility a conviction would have incurred, however, the accused will need a defense attorney for representation against those charges as the consequences of conviction are severe.

You made a mistake of fact
In criminal law, a “mistake of fact” can be a defense if it is reasonable. A mistake of fact means that a person may be defended to limit their criminal liability due to the fact that they were operating not for a criminal purpose but because they acted from an incorrect assumption.

If you’ve been charged with any of the felony crimes under the Penal Codes for human trafficking you will need a criminal defense attorney to defend you against the severe nature of these charges.

Los Angeles Human Trafficking Attorneys

The California Penal Code 236.1 PC defines human trafficking as:

The deprivation of an individual’s personal liberty with an intent to gain services or forced labor from the individual.

The deprivation of an individual’s personal liberty with the intent to break the laws of California regarding pimping and pandering, child pornography, extortion or blackmail, and other laws involving sexual exploitation of children.

The persuasion of attempt to persuade an individual under the age of 18 to participate in a commercial sexual act.

Penalties for Human Trafficking

California passed Proposition 35 in 2012, which is also known as the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act. Through this act, new and severe consequences were set in place for those convicted of human trafficking. Human trafficking in California is considered a felony. Individuals who are convicted of human trafficking for forced labor could face five to twelve years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Those who are convicted of human trafficking with the intent to violate California laws relating to commercial sex, child pornography, or extortion could be sentenced to serve eight to twenty years in a state penitentiary and pay a fine up to $500,000. Furthermore, these individuals will be required to register with the state as a sex offender through the California Sex Offender Registration Act.

For those who are convicted of convincing a minor to participate in a commercial sexual act, they could face five to twelve years in prison. However, if a jury finds evidence that force, fear, or violence was used, then a defendant could face fifteen years to life in prison. The defendant could also be made to pay a fine up to $500,000 and must register with the state as a sex offender through the California Sex Offender Registration Act.

Examples of Human Trafficking
Here are a few examples of human trafficking:

An individual persuades many minor females in Mexico they could have a better life in the United States and could assist them finding work and homes. The individual illegally gets the girls into the country and forces them to work as prostitutes through force or violence.

An individual who owns a business wants to obtain individuals to work at a cheaper rate, so the business owner convinces men and women to come from Mexico to work illegally. The business owner provides a place for the individuals to live. However, the business owner refuses to pay them wages and threatens them through violence. The individual also threatens to turn them in for being in the country illegally.

How to Fight the Charges
There are severe penalties when an individual is charged with human trafficking. It is imperative a person charged with human trafficking obtains an expert legal team with the experience and capabilites to fight the case. There are many ways to fight a human trafficking charge in court, which include:

Being Falsely Accused
There are instances where a frustrated employee decides to lie and falsely accuse his or her boss of human trafficking. When a defendant is falsely accused, it is imperative to have a legal team that can prove without a doubt the accusations are false.

An Was Not Deprived of His or Her Liberty
There are many times when an individual accuses another of human trafficking, but the alleged victim was not deprived of his or her liberty. If an employee believed he or she was not able to leave a place of employment, but a business owner gave no cause for this, then the alleged victim was not deprived of his or her liberty.

A strong defense can ensure those charged with human trafficking have the best defense, which could prevent incarceration, fines, and having to register with the sex offender registry.

In California, the penalties for human trafficking, which is defined in three ways, are severe, thanks to the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act (Prop 35). This act increased prison time, fines, and made it mandatory to register as a sex offender upon conviction. Examples of human trafficking include forced prostitution, pornography, physical labor, and organ or tissue donation. California has the highest number of reported sex-trafficking victims, and the FBI lists Los Angeles as the number one city for human trafficking.

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