What is the Crime of Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking = Pimping. Anyone involved in a pimping operation is subject to a human trafficking charge.
The term “Human Trafficking” conjures up images of women and children being abducted, held against their will, and shipped around the world for prostitution, like in the movie “Taken” and season two of “The Wire.” While those scenarios certainly constitute human trafficking, the Massachusetts crime of Human Trafficking prohibits less serious prostitution operations.
The crime is officially known as “Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude.” The definition of the law can be found at G L c 265, section 50. The language of the law prohibits people from:
Knowingly (i) subjecting, attempting to subject, recruiting, enticing, harboring,
transporting, providing or obtaining by any means, or attempting to recruit, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining by any means, another person to engage in commercial sexual activity, a sexually-explicit performance or the production of unlawful pornography … or (ii) benefitting, financially or by receiving anything of value, as a result of a violation of clause (i).
Basically, a person whom participates, in any manner, in a prostitution scheme may be charged and convicted of Human Trafficking.
What are the Penalties for a Human Trafficking Conviction?
An individual convicted of Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude is subject to a mandatory-minimum sentence of five (5) years in state prison, and no more than twenty (20) years.
An individual convicted of Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude Upon a Person Under 18 is subject to a mandatory-minimum sentence of five (5) years in state prison, and up to Life in Prison.
The lesser-included offense of “Deriving Support from Prostitution” carries a sentence of five (5) years. Two of those five years are mandatory.
Additionally, a conviction for Human Trafficking results in mandatory Sex Offender Registration.
What Defenses Are Available to Fight a Charge of Human Trafficking?
The defense theory of a human trafficking case depends on the specifics of each case. Perhaps the most common defense theories are:
- The prostitute(s) chose to participate willingly (or, “I didn’t force nobody to do nothin’”)
- I was just sleeping with the women (or, “I’m just a john”)
- I was forced to participate myself (or, “I’m really a victim) – this defense theory is used in cases where a female is charged with having a role in the organization greater than that of a prostitute
Other Human Trafficking Notes
Human Trafficking charges are often accompanied by other crimes, such as Rape, Indecent Assault and Battery, Child Pornography, Drug Distribution, and Kidnapping. The reason for this is that the victims in human trafficking often report being forced to have sex, being kept against their will. In other instances, pimps sell drugs in conjunction with running girls.
Human Trafficking operations that involve underage girls, multi-state travel, abductions, and/or serious abuse are often prosecuted in federal court. A defendant charged with Human Trafficking in federal court is exposed to even harsher penalties.
The Human Trafficking statute became the law in 2012. Since its inception it has been used with frequency. Local, State, and Federal authorities investigate and prosecute prostitution organizations with vigor. Law enforcement has cracked down hard on groups of pimps and prostitutes that set up at hotels. Agents pose as johns to get close to the operations. Additionally, police constantly monitor websites such as “Backpage” and “Craigslist.”
Attorney Henry Fasoldt has represented multiple individuals with Human Trafficking. Call him if you or a loved one has been charged with this very serious offense.