A Las Vegas Defense Attorney Explains Laws on Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is defined by the Department of Homeland Security as “a modern-day form of slavery, involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain.” Trafficking takes two primary forms: sexual slavery or sex trafficking; and labor trafficking.  Both forms are illegal, and the penalties can lead to a lengthy prison term or even to life in prison.

A Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer can provide legal representation if you have been accused of involvement with human trafficking.

LV Criminal Defense has successfully represented many defendants, helping clients in entering into plea agreements; defending against charges; or securing lesser sentences or grants of immunity in exchange for cooperation with authorities.  Give us a call today to learn more about your options for fighting charges.

What is Human Trafficking

 Human trafficking is a $32 billion annual industry, with approximately 2.5 million people worldwide involved in trafficking at any given moment.  Human trafficking includes:

  • Sex trafficking. Both men and women may be forced into sex work, including pornography and prostitution. Street prostitution is a highly-visible form of sex trafficking, but trafficking may occur in private and public locations. Children are commonly targeted for sex trafficking, and the average age of a first-time trafficking victim is between 11 and 14.
  • Forced labor. Forced labor, or involuntary servitude, is the biggest sector of trafficking worldwide. Victims may be forced into agricultural work, domestic service, manufacturing, work in construction, work in hair and nail salons, prostitution, and strip clubs, among other professions.
  • Debt bondage. Debt bondage occurs when an individual is forced to work for low wages or no wages to pay off a “debt bondage”.  The worker may get into debt as a result of paying for  assistance immigrating to the United States, or may have to pay a “job referral” or “job placement” fee that must be paid back or worked off over several years.

Human trafficking may occur within the same state, across state lines, or from one country to another.  Whenever force, coercion, fraud, deception, abuse of power, or abduction is used to coerce a person into work or into sexual behavior, this can be classified as human trafficking.

Penalties for Human Trafficking

 In 1910, the Mann Act made it a federal felony to transport, or cause to be transported, an individual across state lines for purposes of prostitution.  The Mann Act is one of many federal laws used to pursue criminal charges against those involved in human trafficking.

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Nick Wooldridge has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in Nevada.


Defendants accused of any type of involvement with forced labor, sex trafficking, or debt bondage can expect to face serious penalties under myriad federal code sections found in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 77.  For example:

  • Enticement into slavery is prohibited under 18 U.S. Code Section 1583. A defendant accused of kidnapping someone, or persuading someone to go somewhere to become a slave, faces 20 years imprisonment.
  • Sale of an individual into involuntary servitude is prohibited under 18 U.S. Code Section 1584. The penalty is 20 years for selling someone into servitude or for holding someone in servitude against his will. If aggravated sexual abuse is attempted, or if the alleged victim is kidnapped, the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.
  • Knowingly benefitting from participation in human trafficking offenses is prohibited under 18 U.S. Code Section 1593(A). Under this statute, a defendant who obtains something of value through taking certain steps to facilitate trafficking, such as destroying someone’s passport and restricting his or her travel, will be charged with the same offense as if he had personally engaged in the illegal behaviors himself.

These are just a few of several federal laws directly prohibiting any type of involvement with the trafficking of humans. If you are accused of coercing someone to become trafficked; if you kidnap, sell or transport someone to be trafficked; or if you “purchase” a human trafficking victim and keep the victim in service, you can expect to face federal charges that carry the possibility of a life sentence.

Getting Help from a Nevada Human Trafficking Lawyer 

Every defendant accused of human trafficking deserves a vigorous defense by a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney in Las Vegas. You must be treated as innocent until proven guilty. Prosecutors, judges, and juries often treat defendants of human trafficking harshly and you need to ensure you have a strong advocate protecting your legal rights and fighting for you.

LV Criminal Defense is a Las Vegas criminal defense firm that takes on the tough cases.  We are experienced in providing legal representation to defendants accused of criminal offenses and we have successfully helped defendants to avoid lengthy prison sentences for some of the most serious crimes.

To learn more about how we can help when you have been accused of involvement with human trafficking, give us a call today.

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