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The Latest on Sex Trafficking in Los Angeles County

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Oct 28, 2021

Sex trafficking has become the big political hot ticket for police, prosecutors, and judges. It's the type of crime that even the new head prosecutor, who is not as tough on crime as many people would like, has to get behind. 

So, we're seeing all types of arrests for human trafficking across the board in Los Angeles County.  I have a lot of people coming in from being arrested from Figueroa Street, Sepulveda in the San Fernando Valley, and even in surrounding counties like Orange County near Disneyland.

Sex Trafficking in Los Angeles County

This whole sex trafficking is vast where the prosecutors and the police have taken a stand and prosecuted people left and right.

The big problem is that it usually involves minors if you or a loved one is charged with sex trafficking. 

Whenever a minor is involved, you're talking prison and sex registration. I don't just mean a couple of years when I say prison. 

These guys are talking about multiple years in prison whenever it has to do with a sex trafficking offense involving someone under 18.

The state of California describes sex trafficking as follows:

  • “compelling or coercing someone to provide or engage in the commercial sex act, through either psychological or physical means. “

Victims of sex trafficking are often the homeless, runaway youth, or those who came from a complex background or were abused in their past.

Our California sex crime defense lawyers will review them below to give readers a better understanding of the laws.

Human Trafficking – Penal Code 236.1 PC

California Penal Code 236.1 PC defines human trafficking as depriving someone of their liberty with the intent to obtain forced labor or services.

This statute includes violating child pornography laws, pimping and pandering laws, sexual exploitation of children, and blackmail and extortion laws.

Human sex trafficking language also has language prohibiting persuading or attempting. To persuade a minor to engage in commercial sex acts with intent to violate these laws.

Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act – Proposition 35

California citizens took an aggressive stand against sex trafficking by voting and passing Proposition 35 in November 2012.

This allowed law enforcement to crack down on human sex trafficking, increasing the penalties for sex trafficking. For example, if convicted for sex trafficking of a minor with force or fraud, you could be facing up to life in prison.

Further, the fines were increased to up to $1.5 million, and the new law expanded the definition of human trafficking to include creating and distributing child pornography.

In review, Proposition 35 is called the “Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act,” which targets sex trafficking by increasing the penalties and expanding the legal definition of sexual exploitation.

Related California Crimes for Sex Trafficking

  • Penal Code 236.1(b) PC - human trafficking for extortion, child porn, pimping,
  • Penal Code 266 PC - abduction and enticing a child to commit prostitution, 
  • 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 of child pornography,
  • Penal Code 311.4 PC - employing minors for child porn,
  • Penal Code 518 PC - blackmail or extortion,
  • Penal Code 288.2 PC - sending harmful material to a minor,
  • Penal Code 288.4 PC - arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes,
  • Penal Code 207 and 209 PC – kidnapping laws,
  • Penal Code 186.22 PC – criminal street gang enhancement.

What are the Penalties?

Sex trafficking in California is a serious felony crime that carries harsh penalties.

The exact punishments for a conviction will always vary based on the details of the crime but will generally include the following:  

  • jail time from 10-20 years,
  • maximum fines up to $500,000,
  • formal probation,
  • sex offender registration for life.

If you are convicted of aggravated sex trafficking crime, the penalties will significantly increase and even include up to life in prison.  

Suppose the victim sustained a significant bodily injury (GBI) while committing or attempting to commit a sex trafficking offense. In that case, you could face an additional and consecutive term of five, seven, or ten years in state prison.

Finally, if you have a prior Penal Code 236.1 human trafficking conviction, then your prison sentence could be enhanced by an additional and consecutive term of five years.

Minors Engaged in Prostitution Activity

Sex trafficking is the hot ticket item and what I do see happening is, a lot of these cases are being filed when they shouldn't be filed. 

They're being over-prosecuted, and the biggest problem with them is the potential punishments that come along with them -- they are astronomical.

Penalties for Sex Trafficking

You don't want to be in a position where you're being charged with a sex-trafficking crime.  And that's what we're talking about when we talk about what sex trafficking means. 

We're talking about people under the age of 18 -- usually females -- who are involved in prostitution activities.

There's a pimp typically involved or a male helping them protect themselves, taking most of their money in the case. 

So, you don't want to be in a position where you're being charged with this type of offense.

The punishments are doubled and tripled whenever it has to do with minors involved with prostitution Anybody and anybody directing the prostitution will be looked at as a member of society who needs to go to prison for a long time.

Defenses for California Sex Trafficking Cases

So, if you or a loved one is charged with any sex trafficking, pick up the phone.  Make the call and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help.

If you've been arrested or a loved one has been arrested for some sex trafficking offense, you should get an attorney immediately. 

Since the prosecutors have prosecuted them, I've been handling these cases since they came into being. 

I suggest you pick up the phone.  Make the call.  Hire somebody like me who's been doing this now for almost 30 years. 

I worked for the District Attorney's office early in my career, then for a Superior Court Judge, and since 1994, I've been defending people charged with sex-related offenses. Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles County and offers a free case evaluation.

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About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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