More and more in America, sex trafficking is a massive crime, and there is a lot of news media coverage. Law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and judges take these cases very seriously.
If you or a loved one is charged with sex trafficking, you want to get the best possible criminal defense attorney you can find.
Sex trafficking can take many different forms. Usually, you're going to see someone utilizing women as prostitutes and making money from it, and they are often underage.
So, the bottom line is that if you or a loved one is charged with sex trafficking, you face prison time. Depending on the case's jurisdiction, it could be substantial prison time.
Los Angeles is taking these cases very seriously. Orange County, San Bernardino, Riverside, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria – I've handled cases in these jurisdictions. Typically, prosecutors want lengthy prison sentences, mainly when underage girls are being trafficked and are involved in placing ads and money is being exchanged.
The pimp is involved in getting a portion or all of the money and is controlling everything. If there's any violence or threats of violence involved, prosecutors look at another significant factor in deciding how they will deal with the case. Our California sex crime defense lawyers will review this topic in more detail below.
What is Human Sex Trafficking?
California Penal Code 236.1 PC defines human sex trafficking as depriving somebody of their liberty with the intent to obtain forced labor or services.
Human sex trafficking language also includes convincing or attempting to convince a minor to engage in commercial sex acts with the intent of violating one of these same laws.
California defines sex trafficking as “compelling or coercing someone to provide or engage in commercial sex acts through either psychological or physical means.“
Victims of sex trafficking are often homeless or runaway youth that comes from troubled backgrounds.
What Are California Statutes Related to Sex Trafficking?
- Penal Code 186.22 PC – street gang enhancement,
- Penal Code 207 – kidnapping,
- Penal Code 236.1 (b) PC - human trafficking for child porn or pimping,
- Penal Code 266 PC - rape, abduction, enticing a child to prostitution, carnal abuse of children, and seduction,
- Penal Code 266h PC – pimping,
- Penal Code 266i PC – pandering,
- Penal Code267 PC - abducting a child for youth prostitution,
- Penal Code 311.1 PC - distribution or transportation of child porn,
- Penal Code 311.3 PC - exchanging or developing child porno,
- Penal Code 311.4 PC - employing minors for child pornography,
- Penal Code 518 PC - blackmail or extortion,
- Penal Code 288.2 PC - sending lewd material to a minor,
- Penal Code 288.4 PC - arranging a meeting with a minor.
What are the Penalties for Sex Trafficking?
California considers sex trafficking a severe felony, but the legal penalties for a conviction will vary based on the case details of the case. Most sex trafficking-related convictions will carry the following punishments:
- county jail or state prison time from 12-20 years,
- vast fines of up to $500,000,
- formal felony probation,
- lifetime sex offender registration.
In addition to these penalties, you could be facing an additional, consecutive term of five, seven, or ten years in state prison if you inflicted a great bodily injury (GBI) on a victim during the commission of a sex trafficking crime.
Further, if you have a prior Penal Code 236.1 conviction, your sentence could be enhanced by an additional and consecutive term of five years for each previous violation.
What are Some Possible Legal Defenses?
Many times you want to come up with a defense to the case. Some defenses I see make sense when these young women put ads in local internet spots or papers themselves.
This means the pimp has nothing to do with it, and many of these women are their pimps.
When they get caught, they blame it on somebody else, or there are text messages found on their phone that are either taken out of context from older conversations that have nothing to do with what they've been caught for regarding prostitution.
Also, many times what we see is that undercover police are getting involved, posing as John. The young women are being arrested because they are setting up deals with undercover police officers – sex for money or hotel rooms.
I see people getting in trouble when bringing the women to the location. They're the ones setting up the advertisements. They're taking part of the money.
They're seeing up the johns for the women. They're discussing via text message, foolishly, conversations about sex trafficking johns, money, and pimping and pampering. Some other strategies for a sex trafficking defense include making an argument that:
- your actions didn't deprive another person of their liberty,
- the accusations against you are false,
- there was police misconduct during the investigation,
- you didn't know that you had illicit materials,
- the conduct was not lewd by law,
- gaps in the chain of custody of the evidence,
- you are the victim of unreasonable search and seizure.
So, bet your bottom dollar that sex trafficking is one of the most severe crimes and one of the hot crimes currently being prosecuted across the country.
I'm based in Los Angeles. I handle cases in LA at the state and federal levels and across counties close to Los Angeles. For federal, I go everywhere because the federal sentencing guidelines are universal.
So, if you need the best because you or a loved one is charged with a sex trafficking offense, you're facing prison time, and sex registration for life – pick up the phone now and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding, who founded the Hedding Law Firm. We offer a free case consultation by phone or use the contact form.