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Sex Trafficking

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 was the first comprehensive federal law to address trafficking in persons, and it was reauthorized through the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2013. New York State has its own human trafficking law that involves two types of trafficking crimes: sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

Sex trafficking does necessarily involve any "smuggling" of victims across state lines or any transportation at all, as a person commits this offense if he or she intentionally advances or profits from prostitution by any one of a number of prohibited means. Sex trafficking crimes can result in state or federal charges, both of which carry very steep penalties that may include lengthy prison sentences and significant fines.

Lawyer for Sex Trafficking Arrests in Queens, NY

Do you think that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested for an alleged sex trafficking crime anywhere in New York City? Make sure to exercise your right to remain silent until you can contact Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner.

Rochelle S. Berliner is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Queens who aggressively defends clients accused of sex crimes in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and many surrounding areas of New York City. Call 718-261-5600 to have our lawyer provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.

Overview of Sex Trafficking Crimes in New York

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New York City Sex Trafficking Penalties

Under New York Penal Law § 230.34, a person commits the criminal offense of sex trafficking if he or she intentionally advances or profits from prostitution by:

  • unlawfully providing to a person who is patronized, with intent to impair said person's judgment: a narcotic drug or a narcotic preparation; concentrated cannabis as defined in New York Public Health Law § 3302.4(a); methadone; or gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) or flunitrazepan, also known as Rohypnol;
  • making material false statements, misstatements, or omissions to induce or maintain the person being patronized to engage in or continue to engage in prostitution activity;
  • withholding, destroying, or confiscating any actual or purported passport, immigration document, or any other actual or purported government identification document of another person with intent to impair said person's freedom of movement; provided, however, that this subdivision shall not apply to an attempt to correct a social security administration record or immigration agency record in accordance with any local, state, or federal agency requirement, where such attempt is not made for the purpose of any express or implied threat;
  • requiring that prostitution be performed to retire, repay, or service a real or purported debt;
  • using force or engaging in any scheme, plan or pattern to compel or induce the person being patronized to engage in or continue to engage in prostitution activity by means of instilling a fear in the person being patronized that, if the demand is not complied with, the alleged offender or another will do one or more of the following: 
    • cause physical injury, serious physical injury, or death to a person;
    • cause damage to property, other than the property of the actor;
    • engage in other conduct constituting a felony or unlawful imprisonment in the second degree in violation of New York Penal Law § 135.05;
    • accuse some person of a crime or cause criminal charges or deportation proceedings to be instituted against some person; provided, however, that it shall be an affirmative defense to this subdivision that the defendant reasonably believed the threatened charge to be true and that his or her sole purpose was to compel or induce the victim to take reasonable action to make good the wrong which was the subject of such threatened charge;
    • expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule;
    • testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another's legal claim or defense;
    • use or abuse his or her position as a public servant by performing some act within or related to his or her official duties, or by failing or refusing to perform an official duty, in such manner as to affect some person adversely; or
    • perform any other act which would not in itself materially benefit the actor but which is calculated to harm the person who is patronized materially with respect to his or her health, safety, or immigration status.

Sex trafficking is a class B felony in New York. As a Class B non-violent felony, a conviction is punishable by a sentence of up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 as well as a possible requirement to register as a sex offender.

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Federal Sex Trafficking Penalties

Under 22 U.S. Code § 7102(10), the term sex trafficking is defined as "the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act." A commercial sex act is defined as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.

The federal crime of sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud, or coercion is established under 18 U.S. Code § 1591. A person commits a federal sex trafficking offense if he or she knowingly:

(1) in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, obtains, advertises, maintains, patronizes, or solicits by any means a person; or

(2) benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture which has engaged in an act described in violation of paragraph (1), knowing, or, except where the act constituting the violation of paragraph (1) is advertising, in reckless disregard of the fact, that means of force, threats of force, fraud, coercion, or any combination of such means will be used to cause the person to engage in a commercial sex act, or that the person has not attained the age of 18 years and will be caused to engage in a commercial sex act.

As used in this statute, coercion is defined as threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or the abuse or threatened abuse of law or the legal process.

Abuse or threatened abuse of law or the legal process is defined as "the use or threatened use of a law or legal process, whether administrative, civil, or criminal, in any manner or for any purpose for which the law was not designed, in order to exert pressure on another person to cause that person to take some action or refrain from taking some action."

Violations of 18 U.S. Code § 1591 are punishable as follows:

  • If the offense was effected by means of force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion, or by any combination of such means, or if the person recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, advertised, patronized, or solicited had not attained the age of 14 years at the time of such offense, a convictions is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and not less than 15 years up to life in prison;
  • If the offense was not so effected, and the person recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, advertised, patronized, or solicited had attained the age of 14 years but had not attained the age of 18 years at the time of such offense, a convictions is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and not less than 10 years up to life in prison; or
  • Whoever obstructs, attempts to obstruct, or in any way interferes with or prevents the enforcement of this section, a convictions is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 20 years in prison.

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Sex Trafficking Resources in New York

New York | National Human Trafficking Hotline (e — The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a national anti-trafficking hotline serving victims and survivors of human trafficking and the anti-trafficking community in the United States. Visit this section of its website for information about trafficking statistics in New York. You can also find state reports and information about upcoming events.

Let's End Human Trafficking | — New York City's Let's Call and End to Human Trafficking community awareness campaign "helps bring human trafficking out of the shadows to raise awareness among New Yorkers about this heinous form of exploitation." On this website, you can find ways for individuals, communities, and professionals to help. You can also download the Human Trafficking Services Resource Directory, a referral guide prepared by the Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator.

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Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner | Queens Sex Trafficking Defense Attorney

If you were arrested or believe that you could be under investigation for sex trafficking in New York City, it is in your best interest to not say anything to authorities until you have legal counsel. Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner represents individuals in communities all over Bronx County, Kings County, New York County, and Queens County.

Queens criminal defense lawyer Rochelle S. Berliner can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. She can review your case and answer all of your legal questions when you call 718-261-5600 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.


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Rochelle Berliner
Rochelle Berliner

Rochelle Berliner grew up in Queens, NY. She started New York Law School in January 1989 and graduated in June 1991. Immediately after law school, she started working at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she stayed for approximately 14 years...

  • National Police Accountability Project
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
  • New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
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