Human trafficking is among the most severe criminal offenses. The Department of Homeland Security has a whole page dedicated to federal human trafficking, because, unfortunately, it’s an issue that crosses borders. The state of Texas has widely known to be the top U.S location for human trafficking. As the state works tirelessly to reduce the numbers of human trafficking, most of us are still left wondering what human trafficking means and how it works.
There are instances in which human trafficking might even appear ambiguous. Everyone involved in human trafficking might not be fully aware of the act, even the ones who are hosts. However, even the ambiguous cases of human trafficking are strictly punishable. If you find yourself accused of human trafficking, you might not still understand why, and you should seek a criminal defense lawyer that focuses on federal crimes immediately.
The Gonzalez Law Group can analyze your situation to advise you on what to do next. You can call us for a free consultation with no strings attached. The Gonzalez Law Group gives their trust to their clients and works to represent them in the best light possible.
What is Federal Human Trafficking?
Most people who hear human trafficking think of sex trafficking right away. However, human trafficking can include non-sexual human labor too. Human trafficking involves the exploitation of men, women, or children for labor or commercial sex.
Sex trafficking and non-sexual labor trafficking each have a different set of rules and punishments, as well as various means of being presented in the court of law. According to the U.S Department of Justice,
- “Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.”
- “The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.”
There are several different offenses within both types of human trafficking. For example, U.S code 1592 declares it illegal to traffic people for peonage or forced labor to forge or otherwise misrepresent documents for unlawful immigration. Additionally, U.S code 1586 declares it illegal to work for any vessel involved in the recruitment of immigrants for the express purpose of being sold into the slavery of any kind.
What Are the Penalties?
The penalties for human trafficking are not explicit for every case. Individual cases exist with ambiguity in different circumstances. However, the penalties for human trafficking offenses are the following:
- Up to 20 years if no serious injury or bodily harm occurred to the person(s) trafficked. If serious injury or death occurred, a sentence up to life imprisonment is possible.
There are aggravating, and mitigating factors involved in human trafficking. The offenses depend on how many people were involved, and if anyone was physically injured or killed. The offense also considers the length and brutality of the peonage, etc. Depending on the specific circumstances of each case, the penalties handed out can range from less to more severe.
Three age group distinctions exist for the penalties of sex trafficking:
- Under the age of 14: 15 years to life imprisonment, varies by factors including the victim’s age, the number of victims, or the length and severity of their enslavement, etc.
- Between the age of 14-18: Between 10 years and life imprisonment, depending on factors such as victim age, number of victims, and the length and severity of enslavement, etc.
- Above the age of 18: Between 10 years and life imprisonment, depending on factors such as victim age, the number of victims, and the length and severity of enslavement, etc.
Human Trafficking Misconceptions
Most of the federal human trafficking examples we have come from films, tv shows, or made-up situations. Those are far from the real image of modern-day human trafficking. Although human trafficking refers to modern slavery, it doesn’t always have the same appearance. Some of the misconceptions surrounding human trafficking include:
- It only involves women
- Human trafficking always means sex trafficking
- It only involves people born outside of the U.S
- A family can’t traffic other relatives
- Prostitution equals human trafficking (exceptions apply)
Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 – This is a link to the official 2000 law that reexamined and toughened federal laws on Human Trafficking. All of the information about what kind of crimes constitute Human Trafficking, and what penalties they entail, can be found in this PDF.
Polaris Project – This site provides detailed information about the various federal laws that make up federal human trafficking punishments. It can be a handy map regarding what and where to view different rules about Federal Human Trafficking.
Criminal Defense Attorney in Harris County, TX
Being charged with Federal Human Trafficking is terrifying, with far-reaching consequences impacting your personal life and professional relationships. With a single conviction of federal human trafficking, you risk spending the rest of your life in prison. If you are not ready to resign yourself to that devastating future, the legal staff at The Gonzalez Law Group encourages you to reach out for legal assistance. The Gonzalez Law Group provides an honest analysis of your case and trustworthy legal advice. If you are accused of federal human trafficking, contact The Gonzalez Law Group at (832) 530-4070 for a free, confidential consultation. We work with clients in Harris County, Parker County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Brazoria County, and Galveston County, and more.