At a glance, the charge of “human trafficking” sounds horrible. But this charge gets used against many people who either did nothing wrong at all or actually committed a much less severe crime. Unfortunately, that means that many people end up facing felony charges for a mistake, and it can ruin their lives.
If you got charged with human trafficking, do not risk fighting it alone. You need to talk to a Los Angeles human trafficking defense attorney. 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.
What Constitutes Human Trafficking in California?
Human trafficking is defined under California Penal Code (CPC) § 236.1. However, unlike most laws, it covers three separate offenses, each with its own legal definition. 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.
All these offenses have a common thread—they involve either holding someone against their will for an illegal purpose or compelling a minor to engage in some kind of illegal act. Thus, you can get convicted of human trafficking even if you only get accused of one of these three acts. And you won’t want to face any of them without a human trafficking defense lawyer in L.A.
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What Does Depriving Someone of Their Liberty Mean?
“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. Unfortunately, that means many people get accused of “trafficking” even if they never actually held someone prisoner.
For the third type of trafficking, you don’t have to hold a minor 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 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 intended to do so.
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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 get accused of:
- Holding someone for forced labor or services:
- Five, eight, or 12 years in state prison
- A fine of up to $500,000
- Holding someone to commit a crime:
- Eight, 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
- Five or 12 years in state prison otherwise
- A fine of up to $500,000
- Must register as a sex offender
These are just the legal penalties involved with human trafficking. There are other penalties you can face outside the scope of the law that are just as worse.
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Other Penalties for Human Trafficking
In addition to prison time and large fines, you could face other penalties such as:
- Termination from your job
- Inability to get hired at most jobs
- Inability to obtain higher education at a college or university
- Inability to join and serve in the armed forces
- Difficulty obtaining a loan or other financial services
- Difficulty obtaining housing
A human trafficking conviction on your permanent record, plus registration on the California sex offender registry, will prevent you from enjoying life to its fullest extent even after you’ve served time in prison and paid all the fines. Without help from a Los Angeles human trafficking defense attorney, your punishment can negatively impact you for the rest of your life.
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What Defenses Work Best for Human Trafficking Cases?
Defense lawyers beat human trafficking charges on a regular basis. Remember that the law gives precise 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 get 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, 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. For example, there have been cases where a person provided someone with free lodging in exchange for labor. This can be a standard, legitimate arrangement or “human trafficking,” depending on what happened. Don’t face felony charges and years in prison. You need to talk to an L.A. human trafficking defense lawyer.
How Can a Human Trafficking Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles Help Me?
Here at the Simmrin Law Group, our human trafficking defense lawyers in Los Angeles can help prove your innocence and fight against your charges in various ways, including:
- Reviewing all the evidence regarding your case and looking for any weak points
- Seeing if your rights were violated in any way during your arrest
- Getting witness testimonies and consulting with experts to support your innocence
- Representing you and your best interests both in and out of court
- Ensuring you get the best results possible for your case given your situation
Hiring a lawyer may seem expensive or unnecessary, but the truth is that you put yourself at an extreme disadvantage when you forego solid legal representation. If you get convicted, you could permanently face financial strain and other extremely negative impacts on your life. Retaining a lawyer is the best investment you can make to ensure this won’t be the case.
Can’t I Fight for My Defense By Myself?
Anyone can defend themselves in court. Whether or not they should is the question. Unless you have extensive legal experience in criminal defense, it’s best to contact one of our lawyers first before making any decisions.
Even though it may feel like no one is on your side, that doesn’t mean help isn’t available to you. Don’t blindly accept a plea bargain, and don’t try to rush into your defense strategy. With so much at stake, you should at least reach out to one of our attorneys first.
Talk to a Los Angeles Human Trafficking Defense Lawyer for Free
The very accusation of human trafficking can be life-changing. Our experienced human trafficking defense attorneys in Los Angeles can help you fight your case. With years of experience and hundreds of successful cases, don’t hesitate to get help from the Simmrin Law Group.
Let us give you a free consultation to help you get started. Fill out the form to the right or call us to schedule an appointment.