Human Trafficking Charges and Penalties
Human trafficking is a gigantic underground industry that affects innocent individuals all over the world. According to the U.S. Department of State, 2007 estimates of the number of people forced into servitude range from 4 million to 27 million. This large difference in estimates suggests that very little is known about the human trafficking industry, and that the stories that reach the public may be just the tip of the iceberg. To combat modern-day slavery, states across the U.S. have outlawed the practice and will heavily prosecute anyone found to be involved.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is the holding and transport of individuals against their will to force or coerce them into sexual exploitation or manual labor. Young girls are particularly at risk of becoming a victim of modery-day slavery; based on U.S. Department of Justice statistics, an estimated 50% of all trafficking victims are children and approximately 80% are women and girls. About 70% of all female trafficking victims are forced into the sexual exploitation industry, while 30% are forced into manual labor.
When most people think of human trafficking, images come to mind of someone being forcibly kidnapped and kept under house arrest. In fact, experts believe that many victims of human trafficking are in plain view everyday but are tied down by other means. Traffickers may use threats of violence, loan sharking, or other means to prevent victims from fleeing. Many transnational victims have their passports or other identification confiscated or hidden from them to keep them from leaving.
Charges and Penalties
Any person who is found to be involved with modern-day slavery will face severe criminal penalties. In Florida, for example, it is a second-degree felony to commit human trafficking through the transport, housing, funding, or recruiting of a victim. Individuals who benefit from money that is knowingly tied to trafficking may also be prosecuted. The penalties tied to a conviction include:
Up to 15 years in prison, and
Up to $10,000 in fines, and
Restitution payments to discovered trafficking victims and their families
Any involvement in modern-day slavery is a serious offense, and suspects should expect to face an aggressive prosecution in court. A conviction for a single offense could haunt you for the rest of your life and greatly reduce your freedoms for years.