Human trafficking is one of the most misunderstood laws on the books. At a glance, the charge of “human trafficking” sounds horrible—but in Los Angeles, this charge is used against many people who either did nothing wrong at all, or actually committed a much less serious crime. That means that many people end up facing felony charges for doing something completely innocent or making a single mistake—and these charges ruin lives. If you have been charged with human trafficking, do not risk fighting it alone. You need to talk to a Los Angeles human trafficking lawyer.
The Simmrin Law Group can help you. Our firm was founded on the simple belief that you are innocent until proven guilty—and we will fight for you. When you call us, we listen to you and we take your side. Then we put some of California’s most respected defense lawyers on your case. Our attorneys understand human trafficking charges the have a long track record of success. Let us give you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
How is human trafficking defined in Los Angeles?
Human trafficking is defined under a state law known as PC 236.1. Unlike most laws, it actually covers three separate offenses, each with their own legal definition. What all of these offenses have in common is that they involve either holding someone against their will for an illegal purpose, or compelling a minor to engage in some kind of illegal act. This element of forcing or compelling people is what makes the crime so severe.
The three offenses that count as human trafficking include:
- Depriving someone of their personal liberty with the intent to get forced labor or some other service from them.
- Depriving someone of their personal liberty with the intent to violate certain laws, such as pimping, child pornography, sexual exploitation of children, extortion or blackmail.
- Persuading (or attempting to persuade) a minor to engage in prostitution or any commercial sex act, with the intent to violate those same specific laws.
You can be convicted of human trafficking even if you are only accused of one of these three acts.
Other things you should know include:
- “Depriving someone of their liberty” does not necessarily mean holding them in a physical cell or physically restraining them. Any method of containing or controlling them, or preventing them from leaving, can count. That means many people get accused of “trafficking” even if they never actually held someone prisoner.
- For the third type of trafficking, about minors, you do not have to hold them captive at all. Simply attempting to persuade them to pose for pornography or commit other crimes with you is enough. The law considers minors to be vulnerable to the authority of adults, so that simply persuading a child is considered the equivalent of “depriving them of their liberty.”
- Likewise, you can be convicted of the third type of trafficking even if you never actually did persuade the minor to do anything illegal. It’s enough if you just intendedto do so.
What are the penalties for human trafficking in Los Angeles?
Ever since a new law passed in 2012, the penalties for human trafficking have been especially severe. Human trafficking is always a felony. There are no exceptions.
The penalties you face will depend on which kind of trafficking you are accused of:
- Holding someone for forced labor or services:
- 5, 8, or 12 years in state prison
- A fine of up to $500,000
- Holding someone to commit a crime:
- 8, 14, or 20 years in state prison
- A fine of up to $500,000
- Must register as a sex offender if the crime was sexual in nature
- Persuading a minor to engage in a commercial sex act:
- 15 years to life in prison if the jury believes you used force, threats, fear or violence
- 5 or 12 years in state prison otherwise
- A fine of up to $500,000
- Must register as a sex offender
What defenses work best in a human trafficking case?
Defense lawyers beat human trafficking charges on a regular basis. Remember that the law gives very specific definitions of trafficking and, if your actions do not fit that definition, you should not be convicted. Additionally, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor—each piece of evidence can be challenged and in some cases “suppressed” or thrown out.
Some of the most effective defenses against human trafficking are:
- False accusation. We will launch a full investigation into what happened. If you are wrongly accused, we can build a case showing what really happened.
- The person was free to leave. With adults, if you did not “deprive someone of their liberty” or hold them against their will, it is not trafficking.
- No intent to persuade a minor. In the case of minors, intention plays a role in the case. If you did not intend to persuade the minor to commit an unlawful act/commercial sex act, it is not trafficking.
- Mistake of fact. In some cases, you could be found Not Guilty if you were acting under the honest, reasonable assumption that what you were doing was legal. For example, if you truly believed the minor was over 18, then recording consensual pornography with that individual should not count as trafficking. This defense depends on the specifics of what happened but can be very effective.
Human trafficking cases can be very complex. There have been cases where a person provided someone with free lodging in exchange for labor. This can be a normal, legitimate arrangement or it can be “human trafficking” depending on what happened. Don’t face felony charges and years in prison. You need to talk to a lawyer.
Talk to a Los Angeles Human Trafficking Lawyer for Free
The very accusation of human trafficking can be life-changing. Our experienced attorneys can help you fight your case, and maybe able to get your case dismissed, have the charges downgraded, or even clear your name. Let us give give you a FREE consultation to help you get started. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.