Sex trafficking is a serious offense throughout the country and, as the media and public stresses an urgency for getting this problem under control, law enforcement increases arrests. Of course, not every arrest results in conviction and that may have something to do with mismanaged investigations, the expertise of defense attorneys, or a combination of those two factors. A look at the laws and penalties governing sex trafficking cases may shed light on this area of crime.
What Makes a Sex Trafficker?
Essentially, one is considered a sex trafficker if he or she profits from prostitution under a series of established qualifying conditions. In the addition to profiting or advancing from the sale of sexual services, the individual may also illegally provide the prostitute with narcotic substances with the intention of impairing that person’s judgment. Among the substances specifically mentioned under this section of the sex trafficking law are cannabis, methadone, or gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) or flunitrazepan, which are also known as Rohypnol.
Additionally, a sex trafficking violation occurs, when the individual uses deception or the omission of truths to compel a person to engage in acts of prostitution. As a separate subsection, the law also provides for the situation in which the sex trafficker withholds legal documents, such as passports and immigration documents, in an effort to keep the individual engaged in prostitution. The sex trafficker may even destroy the documents in an effort to keep the individual employed as a sex worker indefinitely.
Another aspect of the law makes it illegal for the sex trafficker to force another individual into prostitution for the purpose of repaying or settling a debt. In some cases, this debt may be imagined and the sex worker may only be taking the trafficker at his or her word. As long as the sex worker believes the debt exists and is unpaid, he or she feels compelled to continue providing sexual services to pay off that debt.
Finally, it is also illegal to compel an individual to work as a prostitute through threats, extortion, blackmail, or violence. This includes causing or threatening to cause physical injury or death, or damage to another person’s property. Additionally, a threat of imprisonment may be imposed by the sex trafficker, where he or she threatens the sex worker with being accused of a crime. The sex worker may be frightened into submission, where the penalty will be imprisonment or deportation. In conjunction with this type of threat, the sex trafficker may threaten to testify or to withhold testimony, which would result in the sex worker being convicted of a crime.
A public servant can also be charged with sex trafficking, if he or she abuses that position for the purposes of compelling an individual to perform sexual services. The public servant may threaten to perform his or her duties or withhold the performance of those duties, unless the individual complies.
Punishments and Defenses for Sex Trafficking
In New York State, sex trafficking is a non-violent class B felony. This type of charge carries a prison term of up to 25 years, making it a substantial punishment. For that reason, the defenses against sex trafficking charges must be compelling and convincing.
The defenses against sex trafficking charges may be similar to those employed in the defense of prostitution. For example, investigations into trafficking are conducted similarly to those into prostitution, opening up the police to entrapment charges. If the defense can prove entrapment, sex trafficking charges may be dismissed or the defense may be able to acquire an acquittal.
Similarly, mistakes on the behalf of law enforcement may also achieve victory for the defendant. Errors in the procedures of law, such as tainting evidence or failure to read the defendants their rights, may result in a dismissal of charges. There might also be a lack of physical evidence, making it easier for defense attorneys to establish flaws in the prosecution’s case.
Facing sex trafficking charges is one of the most serious crimes on the books with a penalty of up to 25 years. That’s a significant portion of your life, so it’s not something to be treated lightly. Instead, seek out the expertise of a well-established and successful sex trafficking attorney. Together, you can develop a strategy for your defense and do everything possible to either eliminate or reduce that 25 year prison term.