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New York Penal Law 135.35: Labor trafficking

By Spodek Law Group | May 2, 2017
(Last Updated On: July 26, 2023)

Last Updated on: 26th July 2023, 08:56 pm

Labor trafficking is increasingly becoming popular in the United States. In a bid to curb this practice, the New York state government came up with a set of rules under the New York Penal Law 135.35. Anyone found guilty of violating this code would face serious consequences.

A person is considered guilty of labor trafficking in New York if he or she compels or induces another person to engage in labor by intentionally forcing him to work to pay off debts. Other offenses include;

• Forcing someone to work by giving him or her a controlled substance with the intent of impairing his or her judgment.
• Requiring someone to work with the intent of defrauding him or her.
• Forcing someone to work with no payment by withholding his or her immigration documents, passport or government identification number.
• Engaging in a scheme or plan to compel someone to work by threatening to harm him or her physically or cause damage to property in case he or she fails to do the work as required.

Example of Crime Mentioned in the penal code

Chelsea is a busy woman who rarely have time to take care of her young children and do household chores. She decided to hire a maid to help with the house and children while at work. They quickly agreed on a monthly wage and the maid started working immediately. Though Chelsea is a wealthy woman, she was not willing to pay the maid according to their agreement. She began to skip payments. When the maid complained, Chelsea ordered her to continue working. The young woman could not tolerate Chelsea’s dubious methods and decided to quit. Chelsea did not take her decision lightly. She told the young maid to work and that if she refused, she would call the police and accuse her of theft.

Chelsea could be charged with labor trafficking because she forced the young woman to work by threatening her and paying her poorly.


Labor trafficking is a serious offense that could land you in jail for many years. A prosecutor will try to convict you of this crime using all means possible. You can defend yourself by showing the judges that the person is working under fair conditions and that he is free to leave your premises whenever he wants. You will have to gather enough evidence in order to convince the judges that what you are saying is indeed true. You can request other employees to testify in court and tell the judges how well you treat them. You can also gather documents that show that you pay your employees according to the standards.


The state of New York classifies labor trafficking as a class D felony. A class D felony attracts up to seven years in prison. The actual length of the prison sentence depends on factors such as your criminal history, the facts surrounding the case and whether you take responsibility for what happened. The judge may sentence you to probation if you don’t have prior criminal records. The judge will send you to prison if you have several prior felony convictions.

Spending up to seven years in prison can potentially change your life for the worse. You have to do everything possible to ensure you don’t go to prison when charged with labor trafficking. Your defense strategy should be strong to convince the judge that you are innocent. You need to hire a NYC criminal lawyer to bolster your defense. A criminal lawyer knows all the complexities that might arise during trial. He also knows how to explore potential loopholes to make the judge rule in your favor. Do not attempt to defend yourself alone in a labor trafficking case. Hire a lawyer to be on the safer side.

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