West Chester Sex Trafficking Attorney
According to the FBI, sex trafficking—buying selling and smuggling human beings for the purpose of sex—is occurring across America, and it is no longer just a big city problem. In fact, human trafficking is a very real issue which happens every day, in the Pennsylvania Lehigh Valley as well as other places across the state. Pennsylvania police officers who regularly participate in sex trafficking stings across the state, say that the sex going on is not always sex between two consenting adults, but human sex trafficking. In the crime of sex trafficking, there is generally some level of manipulation and coercion.
If you have been charged with sex trafficking, you are probably already aware it is a sensationalist crime, bringing levels of media frenzy. You may be judged in the court of public opinion long before you even make it to trial, therefore it is essential that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner who has handled such cases in the past, and who will zealously advocate on your behalf.
Human trafficking is defined as forcing or tricking another person into sexual commerce or domestic service, or as the sale or trade of a human being for commercial gain. If you involve a minor in prostitution, that action falls under human trafficking. The U.S. Department of Justice may be involved in prosecuting your charges, as well as state and local law enforcement. Federal penalties are even harsher than Pennsylvania penalties, so if charged with this type of crime it is imperative that you have a knowledgeable attorney on your case the minute you are charged or even if you think you will be charged.
To better understand the charges of human trafficking and sex trafficking, consider the following:
· If you knowingly engage in human trafficking or sex trafficking, with the knowledge the person will be subjected to forced labor or service, or if you financially benefit from participating from another person’s forced labor or service, you have committed the offense of human trafficking, which is a second-degree felony. The term “forced labor or services,” means:
ü You obtained the labor or service by using (or threatening to use) physical force against the other person;
ü You obtained the labor or service by restraining, confining or isolating an unwilling person;
ü You obtained the labor or service by threatening to restrain, confine or isolate an unwilling person;
ü You used some type of credit or lending method to establish a debt by the person who is then obliged to provide labor or services to you as security for the debt;
ü You possessed, withheld, confiscated, removed or concealed an immigration document, another government ID document, a passport or visa from the person against his or her will;
ü You caused financial harm to another person;
ü You threatened to cause financial harm to another person, or
ü You used fraud or coercion to get the other person to engage in sexual acts.
Penalties for Sex Trafficking in Pennsylvania
Under Title 18, U.S.C. Section 1591, if you are convicted of sex trafficking of children, or sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion, you could face from 15 years to life in federal prison if your victim was under the age of 14, and a minimum of ten years in federal prison if the victim was over the age of 14. Under Pennsylvania law, if you are convicted of sexual exploitation of a child, you could face up to forty years in prison, and if a person dies as a result of human trafficking, you could face life in a Pennsylvania state prison. The penalty for forced labor under the Human Trafficking statute is a fine and from 15-30 years in prison. You will also be required to register as a sex offender once you have served your sentence.
Defenses to the Crime of Sex Trafficking
Your Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney will build your defense based on the circumstances surrounding your offense, however one of the following defenses may be used on your behalf:
· The alleged victim was voluntarily engaged in prostitution, therefore was not exploited or coerced into engaging in prostitution. In this case, you might be charged with the lesser offense of solicitation of prostitution, rather than human or sex trafficking.
· You had a business partnership with a prostitute, therefore there was no exploitation or coercion on your part. In this case, you might be charged with a lesser crime than sex trafficking.
· Actual innocence. You may actually be innocent of the crime of sex trafficking—perhaps you have a solid alibi to the charges, or perhaps you have been misidentified by the alleged victim. If you are innocent of the crime, your attorney will zealously defend you against the charges, after mounting an exhaustive investigation of the facts which will prove your innocence.
How an Experienced West Chester Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you have been charged with sex trafficking, it is important that you contact a knowledgeable Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. These are extremely serious charges which can expand to increase federal charges as well. You could spend a very long time in prison if convicted of the crime, and, once released could be required to register as a sex offender, perhaps for the remainder of your life.
As a convicted sex offender, you could find it difficult to obtain employment, difficult to rent a home, you could be unable to obtain a professional license or obtain a government student loan to attend college, and you will be prohibited from owning a firearm or voting in an election.
The short and long-term penalties for a conviction of sex trafficking make it crucial that you speak to an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney as soon as you are charged with the offense, or even if you think you might be charged. Don’t wait—your future depends on it.
The sex crimes defense attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices have successfully represented individuals throughout the state of Pennsylvania that have been accused of sexual assault crimes. Our Chester County based law firm is based at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380 and serves clients in Kennett Square, Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, Exton, Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Honey Brook, Oxford, Malvern, Parkesburg, Phoenixville and Paoli. Contact us now at (610) 692-8700 or call toll free (877) 529-2422. Don’t wait—contact an attorney immediately.