There are three important things to know when one is charged with human trafficking. The first thing to keep in mind is that human trafficking is a serious crime. The penalties are severe with the possibility of many years of incarceration. The government is aggressive in prosecuting DC federal human trafficking charges, and these cases are often charged as felonies. With so much at stake, it is imperative that you consult a skilled federal human trafficking defense lawyer. A skilled attorney could advocate for you.
An individual should know that there may be negative publicity associated with prosecuting DC federal human trafficking charges. An individual charged with human trafficking should know that the prosecutors are likely to request they be held in jail and it maybe difficult to get them released pending trial.
Human trafficking cases are generally prosecuted in federal court. These cases are often heard in front of a jury. Felony cases in federal court provide defendants with the right to a jury trial. The choice of a judge or jury trial is made by the defendant. If the defendant chooses to make a proposal to have a non-jury trial, prosecutors usually would not oppose it.
Human trafficking charges are nearly always charged as felony offenses because the prosecutors treat these cases so seriously. It is not likely for these offenses to be charged as misdemeanors.
Judges take a hard line on human trafficking cases. When they look at the United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines to determine the sentencing for human trafficking cases, it is not uncommon for them to move upward from the advisory guideline range given the serious nature of the offense.
The constitutional issues that may arise from investigating and prosecuting DC federal human trafficking charges arise under the Fourth or Fifth Amendments. Issues that arise from the seizure of electronic devices are a growing issue in Fourth Amendment litigation. There is a great deal of litigation related to what law enforcement can search for on someone’s cell phone, computer, or laptop. Those issues often arise in human trafficking cases.
There may also be issues with statements made related to the Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendment when someone in custody makes statements to law enforcement personnel that might incriminate them. There may be a question as to whether the statements were made voluntarily.
In a human trafficking case, the prosecution must prove that an individual was moved against their will by means of physical abuse or coercion for a specific purpose such as compelled labor or commercial sex.
One of the elements of human trafficking that is highly contested in court is the fabrication of these charges by a non-citizen who wants to stay in the United States. When someone makes an accusation of human trafficking, it improves their position with immigration authorities. They become a witness to a crime or a purported victim of a crime and therefore must remain in the United States.
Prosecutors prove human trafficking cases using electronic evidence such as text messages, phone records, and cell tower records. There may also be bank and travel records that they analyze and use. Sometimes, informants are equipped with video or audio recording devices or the prosecutor will use cooperating witnesses who make a deal for leniency in exchange for their testimony.
Testimony from an alleged victim may be extremely important to the outcome of the case. However, even if someone has information, they may not be fully corroborated by other witnesses, so the credibility of an alleged victim becomes crucial.
Everyone should know that the federal prosecutors involved in these cases are extremely aggressive and may try to get the maximum possible sentence under the guidelines.
In human trafficking cases, the prosecutors usually push for the maximum sentence under the guidelines. That is why it is important to work with a skilled attorney who has defended against lawyers prosecuting DC federal human trafficking charges before. Get in touch with an experienced legal advocate that could fight for you.
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