Penal Code 236.1 PC – Human Trafficking Laws in California
Throughout practicing criminal defense for the past 25 years, I have seen human trafficking-related offenses becoming more prevalent, and law enforcement has developed special units to investigate and prosecute these types of crimes.
Your best strategy to counter some of the harsh consequences and unfair practices surrounding the prosecution of human trafficking cases is to hire a solid criminal defense attorney who has fought these cases and won. Even if you do not have an issue that will be dismissed entirely, the best criminal defense attorneys know how to mitigate claims and get lesser charges for their clients.
Many of the human trafficking cases that I see center around some illegal sex-related activity and involve individuals from outside the United States who are being brought into the U.S. to make money, and there is typically sex involved.
Anytime I see people making money under the radar, the federal or state government will try and come in and get their piece of the pie as far as taxes and compensation for the money being exchanged by the involved parties. If that money is illegally being made, then the government will seek to take it all and prosecute the offenders to the full extent of the law.
When I defend a human trafficking case in either state or federal court, I sit down with the client first and get everything out on the table, so we can determine whether the police and prosecutors even understand what is going on with the facts of the particular case and what the proper role of the client is related to the subject conduct.
Sometimes I find that the authorities do not entirely understand what is going on with the case, and once we enlighten them, the case heads in a different direction, and the client is viewed in a different light than first suspected.
It would help if you had an attorney on your side when it comes to these cases, so you are not taken advantage of and so that your version of events is presented to the right people at the right time. In my experience, because of the political backlash that these human trafficking cases carry, the defendant starts at a disadvantage and with a challenging stigma to get rid of.
PC 236.1 Human Trafficking Cases are Common
We're seeing a lot of human trafficking cases. When people hear about human trafficking, they don't necessarily think it involves any sexual activity.
They're thinking of more aliens being moved into the country who are not citizens through the border of Mexico, for example, into California.
But today, we're talking about the sex trade. We're talking about people being moved within Los Angeles, within California, within the United States, and even internationally for sex, and a lot of times, these are victims.
These are young females who are underage and are being taken advantage of by their captives.
I've had cases where people have been moved in from Russia. To pay their way into the United States, they get involved in prostitution activities.
From as simple as young women in the Midwest coming into Los Angeles or Santa Ana and being prostituted.
Because this is such a prevalent problem, the DA in LA county is running ads and talking about all of the human trafficking cases that she has gone after. Don't kid yourself; human trafficking is a big thing.
If you or a loved one is arrested, you need to get a defense attorney. Sometimes you get caught in a big net, and you may not necessarily be guilty of whatever it is they're claiming that you did.
So, you want to make sure you get somebody that can fight for you because once you get that specter of being charged with some human trafficking case.
Trafficking Victims Protection Act
This federal act addresses persons illegally trafficked in the United States for some action protected by law. This act authorizes the government to create specific units to combat human trafficking.
The authorities who deal with the enforcement of our laws have been given significant funds and power to make sure that victims across the United States are protected from those who would take advantage of them for some unlawful purpose.
I have also seen Americans prosecuted who attempt to commit some offense overseas that originates in the United States. For example, someone could become involved with a minor overseas by using a social media application and plan on committing a sex-related offense overseas. The United States government will arrest and prosecute these sorts of crimes. They do not care that the offender is preying on non-Americans; they are concerned with protecting victims no matter where they reside.
22 U.S.C Section 7102
This code section is meant to combat and fight against illegal human trafficking that is occurring all over the globe. Many people are brought into the United States every day to be illegally taken advantage of, and the United States government is actively in the business of protecting and fighting for these victims.
They have created many laws and task forces specifically designated to protect those victims involved with human trafficking activities.
How Can I Fight Human Trafficking Charges?
The victim is underage; whatever the case may be, you put yourself in a position where you're looking at a lot of time in prison, and it's tough to beat the prosecutors.
Because people come into a jury trial situation and see that someone is charged with a sex-related offense like human trafficking in Los Angeles — believe it or not — they immediately think the person is guilty.
That's not fair. That's not what our country is based on when we talk about jury trials.
Don't kid yourself; that's one of the first questions I ask prospective jurors — just because my client is charged with a crime, do you think he's guilty?
Raise your hand. Half of the jurors are raising their hands. Then I have to explain to them; that it doesn't work that way. There's a presumption of innocence in a human trafficking case or any criminal case in Los Angeles.
You're to presume the client is innocent unless the prosecutors can prove their case, and they can't prove their case many times. They don't have the evidence.
They don't have cooperative witnesses in these human trafficking cases. So, you're going to have to decide, through my help and 26 years of experience, whether or not you're going to fight the case or have me work out a deal for you.
That's an important decision right from the beginning, and that's how we handle these cases. First, we have to decide what our strategy is? If we fight the case, what's our theory about why you're arrested and what's going on, and we have to make sense of things for the jury.