Los Angeles Human Trafficking Defense Lawyers
Human trafficking means illegally transporting a person from one area or country to another, usually for forced labor or sexual exploitation. According to the Department of Homeland Security, this crime involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Victims of human trafficking may be any age, gender, race, or nationality. The Attorney General of California has made human trafficking one of his top law enforcement priorities.
Under California Penal Code Section 236.1, anyone who deprives or violates the personal liberty of another with intent to obtain forced labor or services is guilty of human trafficking. A person’s personal liberty can be deprived when force, duress, fear, threats, or fraud are used against that person, and he or she believes that the threats will be carried out. Forced labor means services provided by a person once that person’s free will has been overcome by force, coercion, or fraud.
In 2012, California voters passed more stringent human trafficking laws under Proposition 35, commonly known as the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act. Proposition 35 expanded the legal definition of human trafficking to include child pornography and provided harsher criminal penalties for anyone convicted of human trafficking, particularly when it involves children.
In a human trafficking investigation, law enforcement is typically looking for a network of key players to arrest and prosecute. A person can be implicated in human trafficking if he or she was allegedly contributing in any of the following ways:
- Making travel arrangements
- Marketing services to be provided by victims
- Soliciting services to be provided by victims
- Posing as a companion or sponsor of underage victims
- Participating by aiding or abetting
- Producing or distributing child pornography
To prove that a person committed the crime of human trafficking, the prosecution must show that the following elements of the offense existed:
- The defendant deprived another person of his or her personal liberty, or violated that person’s personal liberty; and
- The defendant acted with the intent to obtain forced labor or services from the victim.
The penalties for human trafficking are severe. Upon conviction, you could face up to 12 years in state prison and a fine of up to $500,000. When human trafficking involves a minor engaging in a commercial sex act, the defendant could face 15 years to life imprisonment and a fine of up to $500,000 if the offense involved force, violence, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion, menace, or threat of injury to the victim or another person.
Other related crimes may be charged along with human trafficking. These crimes, under the California Penal Code, include pimping (Section 266 h), kidnapping (Section 207), and false imprisonment (Section 236).
- Pimping may be defined as pandering or soliciting acts of prostitution on behalf of another.
- Kidnapping, a serious crime in California, involves the use of fear or force to take and move a person a substantial distance.
- False imprisonment is the unlawful violation of another person’s liberty.
A human trafficking conviction in California can have serious consequences. If you are facing these charges, your best course of action is to speak with an experienced lawyer immediately. Depending on the circumstances, possible defenses to human trafficking may include:
- There was no deprivation or violation of liberty: The alleged victim was free to leave your employment and you did nothing to make that person believe he or she was forced to remain.
- The accusation is false: The alleged victim had a motive (such as anger or revenge) for accusing you of human trafficking, or was attempting to gain sympathy or favorable treatment.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP have decades of experience in criminal law. Mark Werksman is a former Deputy District Attorney and former Assistant U.S. Attorney. Alan Jackson is a former Assistant Head Deputy for the Major Crimes Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Kelly Quinn is a certified specialist in writs and appeals. Call us at (213) 688-0460 today to get our experienced legal team on your side, to defend against human trafficking charges.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.