Prostitution Charges vs. Human Trafficking in New Jersey
Sex Trafficking Lawyers Defending Clients in Hackensack and throughout NJ
New Jersey prosecutors and law enforcement take sex crimes extremely seriously, reflecting an overall stance against these offenses which has its origins in a variety of strict laws against crimes ranging from prostitution to aggravated sexual assault. In recent years, with the increase in human trafficking in New Jersey and across the United States, the state has further cracked down on sex trafficking offenses. However, most people are not aware of what actually constitutes sex trafficking under the law. In many situations, what one considers promoting prostitution may actually be considered a more severe crime of human trafficking. Given the relationship between these offenses, it is vital to understand the similarities and differences between a prostitution charge and a sex trafficking charge and to seek aggressive defense representation if you have been accused of either of these crimes.
The skilled New Jersey Sex Crimes Attorneys at The Tormey Law Firm have successfully represented clients facing a vast array of sex crimes charges in Morris County, Essex County, Bergen County, Passaic County, Middlesex County, and throughout NJ. With our experience in this highly complicated and high-stakes area of law, we have achieved successful results on behalf of people charged with crimes ranging from fourth degree prostitution to first degree human trafficking. If you have been charged with selling sex or forcing someone to engage in sex in New Jersey, we will fight tirelessly to defend your innocence and secure the best possible result. Contact us online or call (201)-556-1570 to discuss your specific situation in a free consultation. Getting legal guidance simply cannot wait when facing these serious charges.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking has been defined as the act of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labor or sexual exploitation. New Jersey is a hub for human trafficking, according to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office. Close proximity to both Interstate 95 and major tourist hotspots like New York and Atlantic City make New Jersey a prime location for the transportation of workers involuntarily forced into sex work. Polaris Project, a leading organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking, estimates that between 12 and 27 million adults are part of forced labor and prostitution operations worth over $30 billion worldwide. Polaris actually has offices in Newark, as well as in Washington D.C.. Given the scope of this problem, the severity of criminal charges for human trafficking in New Jersey cannot be underestimated.
Sex Trafficking Charges & Penalties in NJ
Separate state and federal statutes criminalize sex trafficking. Under New Jersey statute NJSA 2C:13-8, you can be convicted of a first degree crime if you engage in sex trafficking by holding, harboring, or transporting an individual so that they can have sex with a client or any other person; if you hold, harbor, or transport the individual through the use of threats, force, the confiscation of their passport (and other means of coercion); or if you are paid to organize, finance, supervise, or manage a sex trafficking operation, among other prohibited acts.
It is also a first degree crime to knowingly hold, recruit, lure, entice, harbors, transport, provide or obtain, by any means, a minor under 18 years of age, for the purposes of engaging in sexual activity. You can be charged with this offense regardless of whether or not you mistakenly believed that the minor was 18 years of age or older. The reason for this is simple. Due to the minor’s age, he or she cannot legally provide consent under New Jersey law. In other words, a person under 18 years of age is automatically presumed to be acting not of their own volition. You can see how a person who mistakenly believes that someone is 18 or older could be charged with a serious crime for sex trafficking, if he or she assists or somehow is involved, in the minor engaging in sex acts for something of value.
A first degree human trafficking charge is punishable by a minimum of 20 years and up to life in prison. There is also a mandatory minimum 20-year period of ineligibility, meaning you must serve 20 years before becoming eligible parole if you are convicted. In addition, the court must impose a minimum fine of $25,000. This fine could amount to much more and all funds are contributed to the “Human Trafficking Survivor’s Assistance Fund.”
Difference between Sex Trafficking & Prostitution
New Jersey laws, specifically NJSA 2C:34-10, criminalize both prostitution and the solicitation of prostitution. Police can arrest you for prostitution if you have sex with someone in exchange for payment or offer or accept sex based on some form of payment. The payment does not have to be money, but must simply be something of economic value . Police can also arrest you for promoting prostitution if you allow a building or your home to be used for prostitution, if you hire a prostitute for someone else, if you transport a person so they can engage in prostitution, if you compel a spouse to engage in prostitution, if you permit a child to engage in prostitution, or if you seek out or hire a prostitute. Loitering for the purpose of engaging in prostitution is also illegal in NJ.
As you can see, there are some similarities between solicitation statutes and sex trafficking statutes. If you are caught in a car driving a sex worker to a hotel, the police may not know whether you are trafficking that sex worker or whether you solicited prostitution from them. Police may not immediately know whether you have threatened that sex worker in your car or whether you are holding that worker against their will. It is an incredibly dangerous situation to be in. As another example, if you allow your home or place of business to be used for prostitution, police may suspect you of managing or supervising a sex ring in violation of the much more serious human trafficking statute. On the other hand, if you are caught hiring a prostitute for a friend, you could be arrested for solicitation. The nuances of these laws and the skillful strategies needed to defend them require an experienced sex crimes lawyer who knows how to investigate and attack the state’s case.
Need Legal Representation for Sex Trafficking Charge in NJ
If you have been charged with sex trafficking or a prostitution related offense in New Jersey, arguing a solid defense is critical to avoiding prison time and other severe consequences. Hire a battle-tested defense lawyer for human trafficking charges in Hackensack, Morristown, Newark, Paterson, New Brunswick, and anywhere else in New Jersey. There’s no time to waste. Receive a free consultation by calling (201)-556-1570 today.