Federal criminal law makes it a crime for people to engage in human trafficking, which typically involves the threat or use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain commercial sex acts, labor, or other services. The offense is a serious felony that can lead to years in prison. If you are facing human trafficking charges, you must contact a criminal defense attorney now for help.
What is the Crime of Human Trafficking?
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and its subsequent reauthorizations define human trafficking as:
- Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age, or
- The recruitment, harboring, transportation, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or slavery.
The law is codified in 22 U.S.C. 7102(9). People can also visit the U.S. Department of Justice’s website for more information on the offense.
What are the Penalties?
Human trafficking is a serious felony offense under federal law. The crime is punishable by lengthy prison terms, including the possibility of life imprisonment for conduct involving:
- Actual or attempted killing,
- Kidnapping, or
- Aggravated sexual abuse.
In addition to prison time, offenders may have to forfeit any property and proceeds related to the offense.
Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?
Fortunately, people accused of this crime can contest the accusation by raising a legal defense. For example, recall that people usually must act by means of force, fraud, or coercion to be guilty of human trafficking. A defense then is for a defendant to show that he/she did not act in this manner.
Accused people can also challenge a charge by showing that authorities violated their constitutional rights. For example, maybe the authorities:
- conducted an unlawful search or seizure,
- stopped or arrested the defendant without probable cause,
- coerced a confession, or
- failed to read the defendant his/her Miranda rights.
In these situations, a defendant can attempt to use the violation to try and get a trafficking charge reduced or even dropped altogether.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a human trafficking charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 25 years of combined experience defending clients on charges related to human trafficking. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these types of cases. Our attorneys will also fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!