Human Trafficking Defense Attorney
The trend in law enforcement is to focus resources on investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases. Because the attention given to these offenses by media and politicians has been so intense, courts look to make examples of defendants charged with human trafficking.
Human Trafficking Takes Many Forms
Although human trafficking can occur in a multitude of ways, the three most common forms are sex trafficking, forced labor, and debt bondage. Forced labor, also known as involuntary servitude, is the most significant sector of trafficking in the world. Debt bondage is another form of human trafficking in which an individual is forced to work in order to pay a debt. Sex trafficking has attracted the greatest attention from law enforcement as a result of the odious nature of this offense. Sex trafficking allegations most commonly result from prostitution allegations involving non-U.S. citizens. Of course, any adult allegedly involved in arranging or engaging in a commercial sex act with an alien under the age of 18, would face human trafficking charges.
State and Federal Human Trafficking Charges
The state of Michigan criminalized human trafficking in 2006. The Michigan law provides that a person shall not:
- knowingly recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, or obtain an individual for forced labor or services,
- knowingly recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, or obtain an individual for the purpose of holding the individual in debt bondage,
- knowingly benefit from or obtain an individual by any means, knowing that the individual will be subjected to forced labor or services or debt bondage.
- obtain by any means a minor for commercial sexual activity or forced labor or services.
Under federal law, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) criminalizes all forms of human trafficking, including slavery, involuntary servitude, forced labor, labor trafficking, and sex trafficking. Federal human trafficking crimes are:
- Involuntary Servitude
- Debt Bondage
- Sex Trafficking
Federal sex trafficking includes the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age. Labor trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or slavery.
Penalties for Human Trafficking
In either Michigan courts or federal court, penalties for human trafficking convictions are harsh. A defendant convicted of this crime is likely looking at a prison sentence unless there are extraordinary circumstances or exceptionally compelling mitigating factors. In federal court, penalties can range from 5 to 20 years in prison, and up to life in prison where the offense results in death.
In state law cases, these crimes are punishable by 10 years to life imprisonment. Additionally, other crimes can be charged in conjunction with human trafficking violations. Examples include racketeering, RICO, kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct, prostitution, assault, unlawful imprisonment, and child abuse, statutory rape. Any sentence imposed for human trafficking would be consecutive to any sentence imposed for any other offense. Consecutive means one sentence follows the other; the sentences are not served at the same time.
Any defendant that is not a United States citizen, including those with a lawful Visa or Green Card, will face deportation after the completion of any jail or prison sentence.
Human Trafficking Allegations
Victims of human trafficking violations can be men, women, and children. Federal and state defendants have been charged with forcing aliens into the following types of labor, among others:
- domestic servitude
- agricultural work
- janitorial services
- hotel services
- health and eldercare
- hair and nail salons
- strip club dancing
Charges have also been filed by those who arrange or facilitate “mail-order” brides. The allegations in these cases are that foreign women believe they are going to the United States for marriage but instead are enslaved.
Why is a Human Trafficking Defense Lawyer Critically Important?
Prosecutors zealously pursue human trafficking charges. Law enforcement’s eagerness to press charges could unintentionally lead to wrongful charges, unjust convictions, and unfair stigmatization. In addition, minor players, mules, and individuals who are acting under duress or pressure from high-level offenders can face punishment that is unwarranted or unfair. Courts are where laws are enforced, not emotions. Because prosecutions in these cases can be like “runaway trains,” it is critical that a defense lawyer be reputable, respected, and formidable in court. The best hope of avoiding a wrongful conviction or a lengthy prison sentence is with an experienced, successful defense lawyer.
Occasionally, police and law enforcement officers accuse innocent people. False allegations can arise from an au-pair who complains of unfair work obligations, a cleaning lady that feels aggrieved by one thing or another, or any variety of other innocent situations. Innocent people can be wrongfully charged and unjustly convicted. This is why a top criminal defense lawyer should be engaged as soon as there is an allegation of misconduct. The police will get the message that the accused is serious about his or her innocence when a highly reputable defense attorney gets involved.
Human Trafficking Defense Attorneys in Michigan
The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has extensive experience and an unparalleled track record of success defending clients charged with felony offenses in state and federal courts. We will stand up to judges and prosecutors and do whatever it takes to defend and protect our clients’ rights and protect their futures. We treat all clients with compassion and dignity and will take the time to learn the story of each client so that we can develop a winning strategy in every case.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.