New York City Sex Trafficking Lawyer

Several District Attorney’s offices in New York City have carved a special niche section in their Sex Crimes/Special Victim’s bureaus specifically dedicated to prosecuting Sex Trafficking cases, highlighting an increased awareness of, and focus on, these cases.

There are many ways an individual can be convicted under the Sex Trafficking statute, and the language does not always provide crystal clarity in terms of what actions constitute this crime. The well-practiced defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffery Lichtman can help you build a case if you are facing allegations of sex trafficking. There are several alleged behaviors charged under New York Penal Law §230.34 that a New York City sex trafficking lawyer can help someone fight.

Enabling or Forcing Controlled Substances

A person can be charged with Sex Trafficking if they advance, or otherwise benefit from prostitution, and provide narcotics, concentrated cannabis, or date rape drugs to a prostitute for the purpose of impairing that person’s judgment. The law is fairly clear with regards to this subsection. Providing controlled substances to individuals to impair their judgment while benefitting from using them as prostitutes can be prosecuted.  Prosecutors charging a person under this theory frequently argue that the controlled substances were given to the prostitutes to force them into dependency.  However, if the prosecutor cannot establish that the intent behind providing the drugs was to impair the prostitute’s judgment, then they cannot secure a conviction. One of our attorneys in New York City can assess a sex trafficking case and determine if this argument is applicable to an individual’s case.

Constructive Confinement in New York City Cases

If a person withholds, destroys, or destroys an individual’s passport, immigration documents, or any other government ID with the intent to prevent that individual from leaving, and at the same benefits from using that individual as a prostitute, that person can be convicted of Sex Trafficking.  It should be noted that the prosecutor is required to prove the intent behind the confiscation or destruction of the documents or identification, which generally has to be done circumstantially through an examination of the situation as a whole.  In these situations, the strongest defense a New York City attorney could make in a sex trafficking case is being able to demonstrate an ulterior motive for the actions alleged by the prosecutor. If the government cannot establish the specific intent to confine the prostitute, the defendant cannot be convicted.

Debt Repayment in Forced Sexual Labor Cases

Forcing an individual into prostitution to work off a debt, whether real or imaginary, can result in a conviction of Sex Trafficking.  This scenario is frequently seen with immigrants who are brought to this country, often illegally, and find themselves indebted to the people who arranged for their passage to the U.S.  They are told that to pay off the debt that they must work as a prostitute. This type of arrangement can be tricky for a prosecutor to prove as there are usually no formal written arrangements and the government’s case is based predominantly on the statements of an individual who also admittedly has broken the law.

Threats or Force in Sex Trafficking Cases

Compelling an individual to engage in prostitution through: physical threats (causing injury or death), property threats (causing damage or destruction to property), mental coercion (exposing a secret, regardless of veracity, which will cause public humiliation or contempt), or any other act which would not materially benefit the defendant but is calculated to harm the prostitute also can be prosecuted under this statute.

This catch-all provision grants prosecutors significant leeway to argue how certain actions may not benefit one individual but are calculated to harm another in the context of a prostitution case. An individual charged under this subsection may find themselves in a situation where the government is ascribing motives to certain behavior to fit the theory of their case.  Finding ways to contradict the prosecutor’s assertions regarding individual motives is essential to successfully combating this charge.

Contrary to what most people think about Sex Trafficking charges, at no point is the prosecutor ever required to prove that a person was transported, traded, bought, or sold.  The main theme of the charges is the domination of one party over the other, and the use of some sort of real or abstract force to engage a person to act as a prostitute, whether by getting them addicted to drugs, crippling their perceived ability to leave, blackmailing, etc.  Although sex trafficking organizations tend to be thought of as large and complex hierarchies of individuals working toward a common goal, the reality is that anyone individual acting alone can run afoul of this statute and the prosecutor will pursue them just as hard as they would if the case concerned an entire group.

Penalties for Forced Sexual Labor Charges

Sex Trafficking is a class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison.  Further, anytime a case touches on an area where society can manifest some moral outrage at the conduct of the defendant, the courts are apt to sentence more harshly than they would for an equally severe crime which does not carry a communal sense of righteous indignation.

All things equal, an individual convicted of Sex Trafficking is likely to face a much longer prison sentence than an individual convicted of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, despite the fact that they are both class B felonies. A skilled New York City attorney can help mitigate some of these potential punishments depending on the sex trafficking charges against them.

Retain a New York City Sex Trafficking Attorney

If you have been charged with Sex Trafficking, hiring a top New York defense attorney is extremely important. Understanding that the key to successfully defending these cases is to focus on the credibility of the government’s witnesses is vital. The prosecutor cannot go to trial on a Sex Trafficking case with only police witnesses, they will need testimony from the alleged prostitutes, and in that situation, you need an attorney who will focus on exposing every bias, lie, inconsistency, and falsehood in their testimony.

Additionally, with this new focus on Sex Trafficking cases, it is important to make sure you hire an attorney who knows how to fight the case both inside the courtroom and out. Sex Trafficking cases garner media attention, and generally coverage of these cases will not begin favorably to the defendant.  Having an attorney who understands how to use the press instead of sitting back and allowing you to be continually dragged through the mud in the newspapers and internet, poisoning your potential jury pool, is also paramount to winning your case.

If you are facing these charges, call the experienced New York City sex trafficking lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman immediately. We have the experience and knowledge to capably investigate and examine every angle of your defense and determine the best way to proceed in the courtroom, as well as the media-savvy and nuance to make sure you are not convicted in the court of public opinion before your trial ever begins. Call us today for a free case evaluation.

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