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Last Updated on: 19th October 2023, 07:51 pm
Sex trafficking is a serious issue in New York, with over 1200 victims identified in 2018 alone according to a state task force report. Both state and federal law enforcement agencies in New York actively investigate and prosecute sex trafficking crimes. However, the legal landscape is complex, with overlapping state and federal laws, multiple investigating agencies, and legal defenses to be aware of. This article provides an overview of New York sex trafficking laws, charges, investigations, defenses and penalties.
New York has a significant sex trafficking problem. The 2018 report by the New York State Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking identified 1252 victims just in that year. Key statistics from the report:
Both state and federal prosecutors have been more aggressively charging sex trafficking crimes in recent years. Local district attorneys, the state attorney general’s office and federal prosecutors like the US Attorney’s Office all play a role.
Sex trafficking investigations in New York are conducted by a wide range of agencies:
Sometimes state investigations end up being prosecuted federally if there is interstate conduct involved. Other times, federal investigations lead to state charges. The jurisdiction often depends on interstate transportation for prostitution purposes.
There are two main sex trafficking offenses defined in Article 230 of the New York Penal Law:
This is a Class B violent felony punishable by 5-25 years in prison. It requires intentionally advancing or profiting from prostitution, and:
This law passed in 2018. It makes it a crime for a person over 21 to intentionally advance or profit from prostitution of someone under 18. It carries the same 5-25 year penalty.
Prosecutors can charge both offenses if the conduct satisfies the elements of each.
The sex trafficking laws contain two statutory defenses:
These defenses are limited but can apply in certain cases. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can assess if they may apply.
The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) also prohibits sex trafficking and carries severe penalties. Federal charges may apply when there is interstate conduct involved.
Some recent cases include:
These cases demonstrate both the severity of the problem and how aggressively prosecutors are now charging these offenses in New York.
As we have seen, sex trafficking investigations and prosecutions in New York are complex. Multiple agencies at both the state and federal level may get involved. Prosecutors have an array of statutes they can use, with serious penalties. Defendants also have some potential defenses.
Experienced criminal defense counsel is essential when facing sex trafficking allegations. An attorney well-versed in both federal and New York law can properly investigate the case, identify defenses and form an aggressive defense strategy. With such high stakes, obtaining experienced legal representation is critical.
Sex trafficking has become a major focus for law enforcement in New York. With cooperation between agencies and more aggressive prosecution, traffickers are facing serious felony charges from both state and federal prosecutors. The legal landscape is complex but defenses are possible in some cases. Anyone facing such allegations needs knowledgeable counsel to protect their rights and future.
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