Human Trafficking Defense Lawyer in Naples
Potent representation for your serious
federal case in Collier County, Florida
State and federal law enforcement agencies place great importance on the prosecution of human trafficking. People accused of this crime frequently face federal criminal charges. Trafficking often crosses state lines or international borders as people detain and sell adults or minors for sex work or other labor. This activity goes on throughout the country, including Naples, Florida. Federal law authorizes prison terms up to 20 years for people convicted of human trafficking. Aggravating factors, like sexual abuse or kidnapping, can send someone to prison for life. As a result, the stakes are high for anyone facing allegations of this nature. The representation of a Naples human trafficking attorney will be essential for curtailing a prosecutor eager to come down hard on any suspects.
Human trafficking defined
Most human trafficking crimes amount to holding people as slaves. The United States abolished slavery and involuntary servitude with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865. In modern times, the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000 addressed contemporary forms of slavery and peonage, which are:
- sex trafficking
- labor trafficking
- forced labor
- involuntary servitude
Human traffickers typically entice adults or children with promises of paid labor, especially careers in entertainment, modeling or domestic work. Most often, their targets pursue these fictional opportunities without knowledge that they will be forced to perform sexual acts or unpaid labor. In some cases, minors place their trust in adults because they want romantic relationships. Victims come from predominantly vulnerable demographics, like:
- foster care youth
- undocumented immigrants
- foreign nationals seeking legitimate employment
Once these people enter the sphere of the person who lured them with promises, they learn that they will not get the jobs that were offered. They may suffer physical or sexual assault and have their identification taken away so that they cannot return to home countries or travel easily within the country. Some are held prisoner. The people controlling them will force them into the sex trade or hire them out as cheap labor for other purposes. They may also be sold to other traffickers.
Coercion of the victim is an important element of a human trafficking case. The language of the TVPA sets the bar low for proving coercion. It does not have to be a clear threat like a gun to the head. Human trafficking laws recognize that coercion can be accomplished through psychological methods. Coercion and trafficking of minors will motivate the government to seek enhanced penalties.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
Types of accusations
Human trafficking accusations revolve around the role that a suspect allegedly played in luring, abusing, holding or selling the person’s labor. People within criminal organizations often conspire as they fulfill different duties, such as:
- travel organizer
- fake guardian/companion for underage people
- child pornography producer
Investigators ask suspects questions designed to uncover evidence about what roles they performed within a human trafficking ring. Typical questions are:
- How old was the person at the time of trafficking?
- Was that person forced or coerced to perform labor?
- Was the service labeled an escort service?
- Who else was involved in the alleged trafficking?
Sentencing under the terms of the TVPA starts with prison terms between three and eight years. However, other criminal acts frequently occur in conjunction with human trafficking. These create aggravating factors that can increase penalties substantially.
Sentences increase for defendants convicted of:
- kidnapping a victim
- sexually assaulting the victim
- previously trafficking other victims
- causing the victim bodily harm
- threatening victim with a dangerous weapon
Other aggravating factors are:
- injuring or killing a victim
- holding victim for over 180 days
- trafficking multiple victims
- defendant is a public official
Any aggravating factors could lengthen prison terms to 10 years and up to life in prison.
Criminal charges for third parties
Federal prosecutors work hard to name as many suspects as possible. Their zeal to defend victims can sometimes expose third parties to criminal charges. Law enforcement rightly wants to prosecute people who knowingly gave direct aid to human traffickers, but people who had no idea that crimes were occurring could also stand accused of crimes.
Consider a landlord in Naples who rents a home to someone. The property owner likely only had contact with the person signing the lease. The owner may have no idea that the property was then turned into a place of human trafficking. The owner might even live out of state and have little direct contact with the property.
Another scenario may involve a locksmith hired to install locks on multiple rooms in a home. Federal investigators might place that service provider under suspicion for directly aiding human traffickers.
Because criminal charges could threaten third parties who had no knowledge of criminal activities, legal advice is paramount for people under investigation.
Retain an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer
The public expects federal and state authorities to take aggressive action against human traffickers. Individuals under investigation will naturally be alarmed by these accusations and may be tempted to answer questions in an attempt to end the investigation quickly. Giving statements without legal advice or representation could result in self-incrimination. Investigators work with the information that they have and are ready to jump on any indication of guilt. An attorney at Joffe Law, P.A. in Naples can provide insights about legal liability before someone answers questions. For those already charged with a human trafficking offense, our firm can explore defense strategies and recommend how to proceed in court.