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Why is Sex Trafficking a Minor Prosecuted So Aggressively?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Apr 04, 2022

Since they started, I've handled these California Penal Code 236.1 PC sex trafficking cases. One of the biggest reasons they're being prosecuted at such a vast rate is because (1) there are so many of these crimes going on and (2) because of the internet and social media.

Prosecutors, police, and judges all realized that with all of these social media connections that people are getting involved with – these apps and the advent of the internet thousands of sex trafficking cases are being prosecuted every month.

Sex Trafficking in California

So, if you or a loved one is charged with sex trafficking, you want to get an attorney who understands the crime, understands why the cases are being prosecuted, and understands how to help you or your loved one.

Often, people are being lumped into the sex trafficking category, and they really shouldn't be.  But, once you get lumped in there, there's a massive stigma against you – judges, juries – they're all looking at you like you're doing horrible things to young people, so they'll treat you accordingly.

That's why people are facing many years in prison. They typically will serve a higher percentage of whatever time they get because either local authorities or prisons keep sex offenders longer than regular offenders. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will discuss this topic further below.

What is Sex Trafficking?

In California, sex trafficking is described as “compelling or coercing somebody to provide or engage in commercial sex act, through either psychological or physical means. “

Many of the victims of sex trafficking are the homeless, runaway youth, or people who came from a complex background or were abused. California Penal Code 236.1 PC defines human trafficking as depriving somebody of their liberty with the intent to obtain forced labor or services.

This law also includes violating child pornography laws, pimping and pandering laws, sexual exploitation of children, and extortion. PC 236.1 human trafficking also has language that prohibits persuading or attempting minors to engage in a commercial sexual-related activity with the intent to violate these laws.

Proposition 35 – Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act

In 2012, California took an aggressive stance against sex trafficking by passing Proposition 35. Proposition 35 is called the “Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act,” specifically targeting sex trafficking by increasing the penalties and expanding the legal definition of sexual exploitation.

This permitted law enforcement to crack down on sex trafficking and increased the penalties. For instance, if you are convicted of sex trafficking a minor with force or fraud, the penalties include life in prison. In addition, the fines were increased to up to $1.5 million, and the new law greatly expanded the definition of human trafficking to include distributing child pornography.

What are the Penalties for Sex Trafficking?

A California sex trafficking conviction is a serious felony with severe penalties that will be based on the details of the crime but will generally include:

  • Prison time from 10-20 years,
  • Fines up to $500,000,
  • formal probation,
  • sex offender registration for life.

If convicted of aggravated sex trafficking, the penalties will significantly increase and even include life in prison.   Suppose the victim suffered a great bodily injury (GBI) while committing a sex trafficking offense. In that case, you could face an additional and consecutive term of five, seven, or ten years in state prison.

If you have a prior Penal Code 236.1 PC conviction, your prison sentence could be enhanced by an additional and consecutive term of five years for each previous violation.

What Are California Crimes Related to Sex Trafficking?

  • Penal Code 236.1(b) PC – human trafficking for extortion, child porn,
    Crimes Related to Sex Trafficking
  • Penal Code 266 PC – abduction of a child to commit prostitution,
  • Penal Code 266h PC – pimping,
  • Penal Code 266i PC – pandering,
  • Penal Code267 PC – abducting a child for youth prostitution,
  • Penal Code 311.1 PC – distributing child pornography,
  • Penal Code 311.4 PC – employment of minors for child porn,
  • Penal Code 518 PC – blackmail or extortion,
  • Penal Code 288.2 PC – sending harmful material to a minor,
  • Penal Code 288.4 PC – arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purpose,
  • Penal Code 207 and 209 PC – kidnapping laws,
  • Penal Code 186.22 PC – criminal street gang enhancement.

Abuse and Exploitation of Minors

So, these cases are being prosecuted because there are a lot of them.  There's a lot of action among young people on the internet who are involved in situations where men are pimping them out, being abused, and being runaways from home.

They're being taken advantage of and exploited sexually, and people are making money off of them, and the government does not like that.  They have special units investigating these cases in police departments across the country.

Criminal Defense Attorney in California

They have special prosecution teams that deal with sex trafficking and sex-related offenses.  There's a whole host of things that people don't realize until they get roped up in the system.  They see they're facing multiple years in prison, sex registration, and other things, and now they're frantically trying to figure out what's going on.

I've been doing this now for 30 years.  I've worked for the District Attorney's office early in my career and saw how they deal with sex crime offenses.  I worked for a Superior Court Judge and know how judges evaluate criminal cases.

I've been a criminal defense attorney defending people charged with the type of crime you or your loved one has been facing since the early 1990s.  So, you've come to the right place, to the right attorney. Some of the common strategies for a sex trafficking defense include an argument that:

  • your actions didn't deprive another person of their liberty,
  • the allegations against you are false,
  • police misconduct during the investigation,
  • gaps in the chain of custody evidence,
  • you are a victim of an unreasonable search and seizure,
  • you didn't know you possessed child pornography,
  • your conduct in question was not lewd,

If you need help with a sex trafficking offense involving a minor versus being charged with pimping and pandering, being charged with trafficking a minor, pick up the phone, make the call, and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you.

The Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles County and represents people across Southern California. Our firm offers a free case consultation by phone or filling out our contact form.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.