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Human Trafficking - California Penal Code PC 236.1

Posted by Raoul Severo | Oct 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

Human trafficking is perhaps the greatest ethical dilemma that our world is currently facing. While it's not as observable as other societal issues, such as poverty, racism, and diplomatic issues, it definitely still is happening under our noses. Indeed, it is frightening to think that such a vile scheme persists even today. Human trafficking may be in the form of prostitution, forced labor, or illegal organ selling. Most of the time, these types of crimes go undetected. You never know, the person you sat beside with on a train ride home might just be going on a different -- and more disturbing -- path towards becoming a victim of human trafficking. 

All trafficked victims are compelled to sell their inherited freedom in exchange for the gratification or satisfaction of another individual. Victims never benefit from the process. With that said, California Penal Code PC 236.1 aims to penalize anyone who:

  • Deprives or violates the personal liberty of another with the intent to obtain forced labor or services;
  • Deprives or violates the personal liberty of another with the intent to acquire, sell, or induce prostitution; and/or
  • Causes or persuades (whether the act was successful or merely an attempt) a minor to engage in a commercial sex act.

Violating the personal liberty of one person may be done through fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, menace, or threat to the victim or another person. Common examples of human trafficking include:

  • Blackmailing an illegal immigrant that you will be reporting him to the authorities if he refuses to work for you free of charge;
  • Selling your daughter to a secret prostitution organization in exchange for money;
  • Luring job seekers with false promises of a ‘better life' in another country. However, when they arrive there, they are instead taken to an unknown place where they are forced to render labor and services illegally. 
  • Threatening to kill your domestic helper's entire family if she decides to leave;
  • Forcing young girls to marry or provide sexual services to older religious leaders; and
  • Abducting children and young adults and force them to join militias.

There are many more despicable examples of human trafficking. No matter how they are carried out, the fact remains that it is a violation of a person's basic human rights. Furthermore, human trafficking almost always involves another crime or two. For instance, there may be rape, assault and battery, or even murder all in one case. 

Meanwhile, some might argue that human trafficking is borderline slavery. Upon a closer look at California Penal Code PC 181, there are in fact similarities as to the vocabulary of PC 236.1. Involuntary servitude is the act of selling, buying, or transporting an individual, or assuming rights of ownership over any person. The law punishes both the actual suspect and the conspirators of the suspect. This, in a way, is related to human trafficking. Both laws are concerned with the liberty and freedom of an individual. However, involuntary servitude contains less serious legal consequences as compared to human trafficking.

Punishments for Human Trafficking

Participating in human trafficking, in whatever manner, is a very serious crime that deserves very serious and heavy penalties. An individual who is found guilty under California Penal Code PC 236.1 will become a convicted felon. The punishments that the criminal will face, however, will depend on the subdivision that has been violated.

If the suspect deprived or violated the personal liberty of another with the intent to obtain forced labor or services, then the penalties will be:

  • A formal probation;
  • Imprisonment in the state prison for 5, 8, or 12 years; and/or
  • A fine of not more than $500,000.

Meanwhile, if the suspect deprives or violates the personal liberty of another with the intent to acquire, sell, or induce prostitution, then the penalties will be:

  • A formal probation
  • Imprisonment in the state prison for 8, 14, or 20 years; and/or
  • A fine of not more than $500,000.

Finally, if the suspect caused or persuaded (whether the act was successful or merely an attempt) a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, then the penalties will be:

  • A formal probation;
  • Imprisonment in the state prison for 5, 8, or 12 years;
  • A fine of not more than $500,000;
  • 15 years up to life imprisonment IF the crime involves force, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, menace, or threat to harm the victim or another person; and
  • A mandatory lifetime sex offender registration.

For help, just send a message

If you have been sued for engaging in human trafficking, we have to be honest: it's a really tough and messy lawsuit. Proving your innocence in this very serious allegation will need the assistance of a competent, experienced, and professional criminal defense lawyer. Only your attorney will be able to come up with the best defense that will suit your case and negotiate better deals with the prosecutor.

Send us a message! We'll get back to you ASAP

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