Human trafficking usually involves moving people across state lines or international borders to enslave them. Human trafficking 18 U.S.C. § 1581 is a federal crime with severe legal repercussions.
Sex trafficking 22 U.S.C. 7102 is even more serious. Prosecutors and federal law enforcement personnel alike will tirelessly investigate sex trafficking rackets and aggressively pursue convictions against sex traffickers.
The Mann Act, passed by Congress in 1910, made it a federal crime to transport individuals across state lines or to coerce them to cross state lines for purposes of prostitution. Prosecutors use the Mann Act to penalize individuals who participate in sex trafficking. This federal law carries extremely stiff penalties.
What’s Involved in a Human Trafficking Case?
A typical human trafficking scheme involves recruiting people from other countries to travel to the U.S. in order to gain employment. The traffickers help their victims to cross the border and to avoid immigration agents.
Upon arrival in the U.S., the victims are provided with employment and told they must work to repay the traffickers for the money that was spent on bringing the victims into the country. However, the wages they receive are much too low to cover even a fraction of the so-called debt.
In a sex trafficking case, the victims are then threatened, coerced or forced to work as prostitutes to earn the money to repay the traffickers. The victims are usually underage girls who are made to work in brothels where the traffickers can control everything they do.
Which Laws Govern Human and Sex Trafficking Offenses?
In 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was passed. This federal statute was created to protect human trafficking victims. It makes human trafficking a criminal act that prosecutors can charge under the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
The TVPA allows a judge to order human trafficking defendants to make restitution to their victims. It also gives victims the right to pursue civil charges against the traffickers.
18 U.S.C. 1581 forbids human trafficking and related crimes. It sets forth bleak penalties for anyone convicted of forcing others to perform labor, selling people into slavery or participating in sex trafficking activities that involve children. Harsh penalties for these crimes can include a life sentence in a federal prison.
18 U.S.C. 1583 sets forth legal penalties including up to 20 years in a federal prison for defendants convicted of kidnapping another person for purposes of slavery.
18 U.S.C. 1584 lays out penalties of up to 20 years in prison for holding someone captive against their will or for selling them into involuntary servitude.
If the conviction includes charges of serious bodily injury or death, or the crime involved sexual abuse or kidnapping, the consequences might include spending the rest of your life in a federal penitentiary.
22 U.S.C. 7102 prohibits sex trafficking that involves commercial sex acts committed by way of fraud, force or coercion. It also forbids recruiting, harboring, transporting or obtaining individuals for services or labor or subjecting them to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage and slavery.
Sex Trafficking Penalties
Punitive measures against those convicted of federal sex trafficking crimes will depend on the elements of the case. These elements include how long and how often the defendant participated in sex trafficking operations.
Even indirect participation is punishable by seven years in federal prison. Direct participation can result in a federal prison term of up to 20 years.
If a sex trafficking offense includes sexually assaulting a victim or forcing a victim to participate in sex-related activities without their consent, a life sentence in federal prison is likely to be the outcome.
Sex Trafficking Defense
Human trafficking and sex trafficking are two examples of contemporary slavery. These crimes are considered the most severe sex-related offenses in the federal criminal justice system.
Simply an allegation of child sex trafficking can prejudice a jury. Nevertheless, the prosecution must still prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
An experienced federal human trafficking attorney may be able to identify vulnerabilities in the case that can be used to sway the jury. If reasonable doubt can be established, you’ll have a vastly better shot at avoiding conviction.
There are a number of legal options to challenge an accusation of 18 U.S.C. 1581 human trafficking or 22 U.S.C. 7102 sex trafficking charges. One possibility is to bargain with the federal prosecutor for a less serious charge.
Alternatively, your lawyer may be able to show that the evidence presented by the prosecutor is insufficient to convict you and thereby get the case dismissed.
Depending on the specifics of a case, an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer may be able to strike a successful plea bargain with the prosecutor. Human and sex trafficking charges can be challenged by a variety of defenses. The specifics of the case will dictate the strategy.