Since the enactment of Proposition 35 in California, the penalties for Human trafficking are very clear on the severity of consequences for conviction of this crime. The Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act (Prop 35) was placed on the 2012 ballot and voted for by 81 percent of Californians.
In California, human trafficking is defined in three ways:
- The deprivation of the personal liberty of another human being in order to obtain any forced service or labor
- Depriving a person of their personal liberty with intent to commit acts under the pimping, pandering, and child pornography laws. This also includes acts of blackmail and extortion, commercial sexual activity and the sexual exploitation of children
- Attempting to persuade a minor to engage in commercial sex acts, with intent to violate laws that define those acts
Prop 35 enabled an increase in penalties for committing acts of this felony crime such as. Some of the changes include:
- Requires those convicted of human trafficking to register as sex offenders
- Increase of prison time of up to life imprisonment in some circumstances
- Increases fines, including the payment to services who render aid to human trafficking victims of up to $1,500,000 in some circumstances
- Prohibits the use of evidence of sexual conduct by a victim of human trafficking to be used against them in court
Many people don’t understand what human trafficking is or how easily it can be to fall victim to a human trafficker.
Outside of legal terms, human trafficking is modern-day slavery. The U.S. State Department reports that more than 800,000 people are trafficked in the United States alone and 80 percent of those people are women and girls. 80 percent of all human trafficking in the U.S. is for sexual exploitation while only 19 percent is for purposes of forced labor.
The many different ways people are trafficked and include:
- Forcing a person into participating in pornography
- Forcing a person into prostitution
- Forcing a child into pornography
- Forcing a person into physical labor and servitude
- Forcing people into organ or tissue donation or harvesting their organs by force
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) reports that California has the highest reported sex-trafficking victims, with Los Angeles listed as the number one city for human trafficking on the FBI list. San Francisco and San Diego were also in the top 13 cities.
Some people are under the misconception that there is no defense for any of the crimes under the penal code for human trafficking which includes:
- Luring a female under 18 in order for her to engage in prostitution
- Pimping of another person
- Pandering to another person
- Seeking out a child under 16 in order to perform lewd or lascivious acts
- The abduction of a person under 18 for prostitution
- The transportation or distribution of child pornography
- Printing, handling or exchanging child pornography
- Employing a minor in the participation of child pornography
- Advertising material which is considered by law to be obscene
- Producing live performances of an obscene nature
- Extortion and blackmail
An attorney can fight a criminal defense charge of human trafficking on the following grounds:
You were falsely accused
There have been instances where having an undocumented person employed in a home has led to human trafficking charges although the person was not forced or held against their will. Perhaps a parent innocently photographed their child in the bathtub as so many parents have done throughout the years, they placed that photo on social media and are then accused of the sexual exploitation of a child. Many innocent scenarios such as these have led to human trafficking charges.
You did not actually deprive the accuser of their liberty
It is important to remember that no evidence of force, coercion, or abuse is needed for a victim to bring a lawsuit against someone for human trafficking. If no evidence of the charges is found, the accused is released from any responsibility a conviction would have incurred, however, the accused will need a defense attorney for representation against those charges as the consequences of conviction are severe.
You made a mistake of fact
In criminal law, a “mistake of fact” can be a defense if it is reasonable. A mistake of fact means that a person may be defended to limit their criminal liability due to the fact that they were operating not for a criminal purpose but because they acted from an incorrect assumption.
If you’ve been charged with any of the felony crimes under the Penal Codes for human trafficking you will need a criminal defense attorney to defend you against the severe nature of these charges.