Human Trafficking

California Penal Code Section 236.1 PC: Human Trafficking 1. Definition and Elements of the Crime Human Trafficking

The law recognizes that depriving or violating another person’s freedom in order to obtain services from them is against the law. As a result, prosecution for human trafficking (also called human sex trafficking depending on the surrounding circumstances of the offense) is on the rise. Given the fact that the District Attorney’s Office is now receiving Federal grant money to prosecute various offenses as human trafficking, there is a huge incentive to overcharge lesser related offenses as human trafficking.

To prove that a defendant committed human trafficking, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant either deprived another person of personal liberty or violated that other person’s personal liberty; AND
  2. When the defendant acted, they intended to obtain forced labor or services.

A person’s personal liberty is deprived when either force, fear, fraud, duress, or threats are used against them and they believe that it is likely that the person making the threat will carry it out. With respect to forced labor or services, this means services that are provided by a person after their freewill is overcome due to force, fraud, or coercion.

2. Examples

A family employs an illegal immigrant from Mexico to provide housekeeping services for them. The family provides living accommodations but does not pay adequate wages or provide breaks. The family tells the housekeeper that if she tries to stop working for them they will report her to immigration authorities. The individual members of this family can be charged with human trafficking because they have deprived the housekeeper of her ability to leave by threatening to report her to immigration.

In another example, a prostitute alleges that she is working for a pimp who forces her to provide sexual services to customers for money or face physical violence. Here, the pimp can be charged with human trafficking because he has deprived the prostitute’s liberty by forcing her to provide sex services or face physical harm.

3. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Pimping – California Penal Code Section 266h
  2. Kidnapping – California Penal Code Section 207a
  3. False Imprisonment – California Penal Code Section 236
4. Defenses to Human Trafficking

Because this type of crime often involves some sort of employer – employee relationship there is often a huge motivation to make false accusations. Oftentimes, an employee may be upset at their employer for some unrelated reason and then decides to fabricate these allegations in order to gain a benefit, usually either money or to gain legal status in the United States through a U-visa.

5. Penalties

If someone is convicted of human trafficking, they may be sentenced to five, eight, or twelve years in a California state prison, and fined up to five hundred thousand dollars.

6. Criminal Defense for Human Trafficking Cases

Human trafficking is a very serious criminal offense that can cause lifelong consequences for those convicted. As noted above, someone can be charged even where there is little to no physical evidence that a crime took place and there is only an accusation. As a result, if you or someone you know has been accused of human trafficking, it is critical that you meet with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who has major cases as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. In certain circumstances, Mr. Kraut is able to intervene before charges have been filed in order to present a defense to the detective or filing prosecutor and avoid criminal filing altogether.

For more information about human trafficking charges, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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