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An Overview of Federal Human Trafficking Laws

Human Trafficking Laws

Human trafficking is a crime that involves compelling or coercing a person to provide labor or services, including commercial sex acts. Traffickers often prey upon vulnerable individuals, including children, disadvantaged communities and people with limited economic opportunities. Federal law prohibits a wide range of conduct related to trafficking and those found guilty can face severe penalties. 

The following are the statutes that outline federal prohibitions on human trafficking

  • Forced labor (18 U.S.C. § 1589) — This statute criminalizes the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel someone to work in conditions that violate their basic rights. Examples are situations like domestic servitude, sweatshops or agricultural labor with poor working conditions and little to no pay.
  •  Sex trafficking of children (18 U.S.C. § 1591) —  Any act of forcing, defrauding or coercing a child under 18 into commercial sex is a crime, regardless of whether the act involved crossing state lines.
  • Document servitude (18 U.S.C. § 1592) — This statute prohibits taking away or controlling someone’s passport or other identifying documents as a means to force them into labor or services. This tactic is often used to keep victims isolated and compliant.
  • Attempt/conspiracy/forfeiture (18 U.S.C. § 1594) — This section expands the reach of the law by including attempts and conspiracies to commit trafficking offenses. It also allows authorities to seize assets obtained through trafficking crimes.
  • Unlawful conduct regarding immigration documents (18 U.S.C. § 1597) — This law makes it illegal to create or use false immigration documents to facilitate human trafficking.
  •  Fraud in foreign labor contracting (18 U.S.C. § 1351) — This statute prohibits deceptive recruitment practices that lure individuals from foreign countries into exploitative labor situations.
  • Mann Act (18 U.S.C. § 2421) — This law focuses on interstate aspects of trafficking. It criminalizes transporting someone across state lines for prostitution with their knowledge but against their will.

Conviction for human trafficking crimes can result in significant prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment. Additionally, hefty fines and mandatory restitution to victims may be imposed. In cases involving child sex trafficking, sex offender registration may also be a requirement.

If you are facing such accusations, an experienced human trafficking defense lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your case,  determine available defenses and protect your rights while working towards a positive outcome.

The Law Offices of David Jay Glassman in Philadelphia draws on decades of experience to protect your rights in a federal prosecution. Call 215-563-7100 or contact us online to schedule an appointment for an evaluation of your case.