Virginia Federal Human Trafficking Attorney
Human trafficking is the contemporary term often associated with slavery, or the “illegal trade or sale of human beings for the commercial uses of sexual exploitation or forced labor.”
According to the Polaris Project, the number of people — mainly women and children — is largely unknown though estimates are in the tens to hundreds of thousands. In 2010, the federal government reported more investigations and prosecutions for sex trafficking than labor trafficking.
Therefore, if you are being investigated, or have been accused of human trafficking, you will require the services of a Virginia federal human trafficking lawyer with experience handling these kinds of cases in federal court.
In order to meet the standards of human trafficking – be it state or federal – it must be proved that the defendant tried to engage – or participated in – the transportation, solicitation, recruitment, harboring, providing, or obtaining of a person for transport, regardless of whether it was against this person’s will or with their consent. That can be determined by one of the following two conditions.
- The defendant either had direct knowledge and/or intent that the transported person would be “indentured” into forced labor or services such as prostitution or;
- The defendant financially profited by realizing or obtaining anything of worth through the defendant’s participation in the endeavor, which ushered the participant into forced labor or forced services.
If you are being investigated, or have been accused of human trafficking, you need an attorney that is knowledgeable about Virginia sex crimes and federal slavery laws, and how they’re prosecuted.
What Constitutes Human Trafficking?
If you are facing human trafficking charges, it is quite likely that one (or more) of the following applies:
- It may be an investigation of bonded labor or “debt bondage,” which is a form of repayment for a loan or service where the terms of the “agreement” are not clearly defined for the “indentured” person. This results in the quality and length of work being performed by this person as disproportionally greater than the amount of money – or the value of the trafficker’s service – that was originally “borrowed.”
- Trafficking is also defined as transporting illegal or undocumented workers in an effort to bypass US immigration laws. In many cases, bonded labor and trafficking go hand-in-hand.
- Sex trafficking of women or children occurs when the alleged perpetrator forces victims into miserable circumstances, then forces them into prostitution, dancing in strip clubs, performing in pornographic videos or films, and other forms of involuntary services. Typically, victims are runaway teens, homeless people, refugees, or drug addicts.
Most human trafficking cases involve other criminal charges, most commonly conspiracy. But other offenses may apply such as kidnapping, fraud, coercion, forgery, theft, and drug possession, manufacturing, or sale.
One theory is that some defendants plead guilty to lesser crimes. The lower conviction rate may also be due to victims who are hesitant to cooperate with law enforcement officials. A skilled federal human trafficking attorney in Virginia will be well aware of the convictions rates and the options for lesser charges and plea agreements and will aggressively pursue those options to the benefit of their client.
Human Trafficking Penalties in VA
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, prosecution for human trafficking is addressed as a sex crime under the statute that governs the taking, detaining or confining a person for prostitution. As such, the penalties are fairly straightforward. A Class 4 felony conviction carries two to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $100,000. As previously mentioned, there may be other charges that are folded into a sex trafficking case, many of which are severe felonies that can bring long prison sentences.
Federal punishment for human trafficking offenses ranges from imprisonment of a few years, to as much as life (possibly per-count.) The US has begun to charge human trafficking offenses under the laws that govern Homeland Security, especially those that involve illegal immigration. If you are facing this form of prosecution, you face a very grave situation and should contact a well-qualified criminal defense attorney immediately.
Experienced Legal Counsel is a Must in Human Trafficking Cases
Federal and state agencies investigating human trafficking usually take months – if not years — to complete their investigations, which are costly in terms of both hours and dollars spent. This is why it is so important to hire an experienced Virginia federal human trafficking lawyer the moment you become aware that you may be facing such charges.
Sophisticated investigations that take time may be more easily challenged in the initial stages of the investigation, so having a seasoned attorney at your side early on is key to assuring the best possible outcome.
Call today to speak to a Virginia federal human trafficking lawyer to learn more about your options, and the best course of action should you be facing human trafficking charges in Virginia. Click here if you want more information on other federal criminal charges we handle.