Human Trafficking

California Penal Code Section 236.1 – Human Trafficking

The crime of “human trafficking” is covered under California Penal Code Section 236.1. It’s generally described as the unlawful trade in human beings for commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor against their will. Commercial sexual exploitation is described as receiving anything of value from the forced sexual conduct of another person. The term “force” can include duress, fear, or a threat of violence. A common example of human trafficking in Los Angeles County includes a situation where a “pimp” uses numerous prostitutes to work for him by making threats and then confiscates their earnings. In 2012, voters passed strict human trafficking laws under Proposition 35. It’s known as the “Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act,” which expanded the legal description to include distribution of child pornography. In addition, it provided tougher legal consequences for people convicted of human trafficking. For example, a conviction for human trafficking involving children could carry a life sentence in a California state prison. A conviction would also mean you would have to register as a sex offender for life. Also, passage of Proposition 35 allows the court to impose a fine up to $1,000,000, which is based on the seriousness and circumstances of the crime, extent of losses by the victim, and the amount of monetary gain you received from human trafficking. The victim could also pursue a civil lawsuit for damages from your conduct.

If you have been accused of human trafficking in violation of PC 236.1, you need to contact the experienced Los Angeles sex crime lawyers at the Goldstein Law Group. Early intervention into your case by our law firm can a tremendous impact on the outcome of your case. Let’s take a closer look at the legal definition, penalties and legal strategies below.

Legal Definition of Human Trafficking

California Penal Code Section 236.1 legally defines human trafficking and false imprisonment as follows:

Depriving another person of their personal liberty with the specific intent to obtain forced labor or to violate California’s child pornography or pimping and pandering laws; persuading or attempting to persuade a minor to engage in commercial sex acts

Depriving someone’s personal liberty is described as sustained restriction of their liberty through fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, or threat of injury. California Penal Code Section 236.1(b) covers human trafficking for the purpose of child pornography or pimping and described as depriving someone of their personal liberty with the specific intent to commit a list of specific crimes, including the following:

California Penal Code Section 266h – Pimping
California Penal Code Section 266i – Pandering
California Penal Code Section 266j – Procuring a child under 16 for lewd acts
California Penal Code Section 267 – Abduction of someone under 18 for prostitution
California Penal Code Section 311.1 – Transporting or distributing child pornography
California Penal Code Section 311.3 – Developing or exchanging child pornography
California Penal Code Section 311.4 – Employment of minors for child pornography
California Penal Code Section 311.5 – Advertisement of obscene material
California Penal Code Section 311.6 – Production of obscene live performances

California Penal Code Section 236.1(c) describes the crime of causing a minor to engage in commercial sex acts. It criminalizes the act of causing or persuading a minor to participate in commercial sex acts with the intent to commit any of the crimes listed above. It should be noted you can still face criminal charges if even if you had made an honest mistake about the age of the minor.

Legal Penalties for Human Trafficking

If you are convicted of human trafficking under California Penal Code Section 236.1, the legal penalties will depend on the specific statute which you violated. However, regardless of the statute, it’s always a felony crime.

If convicted under Penal Code Section 236.1(a), which is depriving someone of their liberty with intent to obtain forced labor or services, the legal penalties include up to 12 years in a California state prison and/or a fine up to $500,000.

If convicted under Penal Code Section 236.1(b), which is depriving someone of their liberty with intent to commit pimping, pandering, child pornography, or extortion, the legal penalties carry up to 20 years in state prison and/or a fine up $500,000. Additionally, a conviction would require lifetime registration as a sex offender under Penal Code Section 290, which is California’s Sex Offender Registration Act.

If convicted under Penal Code Section 236.1(c), which is persuading a minor to participate in commercial sex acts, the legal penalties carry five, eight, or twelve years in a California state prison and/or a fine up to $500,000, and lifetime sex offender registration. It’s important to note that if the defendant used force, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, or threats of injury to the minor or someone else, the legal penalty  will be increased to 15 years to life in prison. If the defendant inflicted great bodily on the minor when committing human trafficking, they will face an increased sentence of five, seven, or ten years in prison. Finally, if you have a prior conviction for human trafficking in violation of California Penal Section 236.1, the sentence could be enhanced to a additional and consecutive five year term in prison for each violation.

As you can see above, the legal penalties for a human trafficking crime are harsh and life-altering. If you have been accused of any type of human trafficking related crime, you need to remain silent and call our law firm immediately.

Related Human Trafficking Offenses

California Penal Code Section 236 & 237 – False imprisonment
California Penal Code Section 315 – Keeping a house of prostitution
California Penal Code Section 207 – Kidnapping
California Penal Code Section 518 – Extortion
California Penal Code Section 186.22 – Street gang enhancement

Legal Defenses for Human Trafficking

The experienced Los Angeles sex crime attorneys at our law firm can use a wide range of defense strategies to defend you against charges of human trafficking in violation of California Penal Code Section 236.1. Every human trafficking case is unique with it’s own set of circumstances and evidence. This means any strategy will first require a close review of all the details. However, the most common legal defenses include:

You Didn’t Violate Personal Liberty

 In order for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to convict you of human trafficking pursuant to Penal Code Section 236.1, they have to prove you deprived the victim of their personal liberty. In some cases, our criminal lawyers may be able to prove the alleged victim willfully participated and there was no deprivation of their personal liberty. For example, pimping doesn’t always mean the prostitute’s had their personal liberty violated and they were a willing participant. If our lawyers are able to cast doubt on any elements of a human trafficking crime, you have a good chance of avoiding a conviction.

False Accusation

In certain human trafficking cases, our attorneys might be able to show you are a victim of mistaken identity or a false accusation. Perhaps the alleged victim made the accusation against you for motives of gaining sympathy, favorable treatment, or out of anger, jealously, or revenge.

Contact our Law Firm

Don’t face the very serious human trafficking accusations without an experienced Los Angeles sex crime attorney at the Goldstein Law Group. We have a track record of success defending our clients against any type of sexual related offense. Our office is located in Hollywood at 1645 Vine St #809 Los Angeles, CA 90028. Contact us at 323-461-2000 to review the details of your case.