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Human Trafficking Laws in California – Penal Code 236.1 PC

The Crime of Human Trafficking in California - PC 236.1

California Penal Code Section 236.1 PC describes the serious felony criminal offense of human trafficking.

This statute is generally described as depriving someone of their personal liberty with intent to obtain forced services from that individual, including the laws on pimping and pandering and child pornography.

Human Trafficking Laws in California – Penal Code 236.1 PC
PC 236.1 human trafficking is described as depriving someone of their personal liberty with intent to obtain forced services.

Several years ago, voters passed proposition 35, known as the “Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act,” which:

  • expanded the legal definition to include child pornography distribution, and;
  • provided tougher penalties for any defendant who was convicted for human trafficking.

For instance, a conviction for human trafficking that involves children can subject a defendant to a sentence of life in prison.

Also, a Penal Code 236.1 PC human trafficking conviction will require a defendant to a Penal Code 290 PC sex offender registration and reveal all their internet activity for life.

coercing someone to engage in commercial sex acts 

Human trafficking in California is a crime that involves coercing someone to provide services, such as engaging in commercial sexual related acts. “Coercion” means to persuade someone to do something by:

  • use of force or threats, which can be subtle;
  • physical, threats,
  • lies, or
  • psychological.  

Any form exploitation of a minor for commercial sex is always considered human trafficking, whether or not any type of coercion was used.

To give readers a better understanding of California's human trafficking laws, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing a review below.

Definition of PC 236.1 Human Trafficking in California

California Penal Code 236.1 PC human trafficking definition depends on subsection of relevant statute, but generally defined as:

  • Anyone who deprives or violates the personal liberty of someone else with intent to obtain forced labor or services, procure the person for commercial sex, or exploit them in obscene matter, is guilty of human trafficking.

Depriving someone of their personal liberty 

You deprive or violate another person's liberty (CALCRIM 1243) when there is sustained restriction of their freedom by use of:

  • fraud,
  • deceit,
  • coercion,
  • violence,
  • duress, or
  • threat of injury to the victim or another person.

It should be noted that the person who is receiving the threats needs to have a reasonable belief the person making the threats would actually carry them out.

Human Trafficking for Sexual Related Crimes & Extortion

California Penal Code 236.1(b) PC describes human trafficking for the purpose pimping, child pornography, and extortion.

The “elements of the crime” under subsection (b) are that you deprived or violated someone's personal liberty with the intent to commit any of the California crimes listed below:

Human Trafficking for Sexual Related Crimes & Extortion
Penal Code 236.1(b) PC defines human trafficking for the purpose pimping, pandering, and child pornography.

Penal Code 266 PC – enticing a child to engage in prostitution

Penal Code 266h PC – pimping

Penal Code 266i PC – pandering

Penal Code 267 PC – abducting a child for prostitution

Penal Code 311.1 PC - transportation or distribution of child pornography

Penal Code 311.3 PC – developing or exchanging child pornography

Penal Code 311.4 PC – employment of minors for child pornography

Penal Code 311.6 PC – producing obscene live performances

Penal Code 518 PC – extortion or blackmail

Causing minors to become engaged in commercial sex

California Penal Code 236.1(c) PC describes human trafficking with minors to engage in commercial sex acts.

Under this subsection, it's a crime (CALCRIM 1244) to induce, persuade, or attempt to cause a juvenile to engage in a commercial sex act listed above. It's not required under subsection (c) that you violate their personal liberty.

What Are the Penalties for a PC 236.1 Human Trafficking Conviction?

If you are convicted of violating human trafficking laws under California Penal Code 236.1 PC, the penalties will depend on the subsection you were convicted of, but it's always a felony.

What Are the Penalties for a PC 236.1 Human Trafficking Conviction?
A conviction for PC 236.1 human trafficking is always a felony punishable by 12 to 20 years in a California state prison and sex offender registration.

If convicted of PC 236.1(a), depriving someone of their liberty for forced labor or services, the penalties include:

  • up to 12 years in a California state prison,
  • a fine up to $500,000, and
  • formal felony probation.

If convicted of PC 236.1(b), depriving someone of their liberty with the intent to commit pimping, pandering, child pornography, or extortion, the legal penalties include:

  • up to 20 years in a California state prison,
  • a fine up $500,000,
  • formal felony probation, and
  • lifetime registration as a sex offender under Penal Code 290 PC.

If convicted of PC 136.1(c), persuading or attempting to persuade a minor to engage in a commercial sex, the penalties include:

  • up to 12 years in a California state prison,
  • a fine up to $500,000,
  • formal felony probation, and
  • registration as a sex offender.

Aggravating factors and additional prison time 

if you used force, fear, deceit, coercion, violence, or threats of injury to the victim to commit the crime, the time in a state prison can increase to 15 years to life.

If you inflict a great bodily injury (GBI) on the victim to commit the human trafficking crime, you could face an additional 5,7, or 10 years in a California state prison.

If the prosecutor alleges you committed the PC 236.1 human traffic crime for the benefit of a gang, you could face a street gang sentencing enhancement under California Penal Code 186.22 PC, that could increase the sentence 2, 3, or 4 years in prison.

How Can I Fight Human Trafficking Charges?

If you were accused of Penal Code 236.1 PC human trafficking, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers can use a variety of strategies in order to obtain the best possible outcome. Some of the most common defenses include:

How Can I Fight PC 236.1 Human Trafficking Charges?
If you have accused of of human trafficking, our criminal attorneys could use a wide-range of strategies to fight the charges and obtain the best possible outcome.
  • you didn't deprive alleged victim of their liberty,
  • false allegation,
  • police misconduct.

You didn't deprive the alleged victim of their liberty

We might be able to make a reasonable argument the alleged victim was free to leave at any time and your conduct didn't deprive them of their liberty. Perhaps they misunderstood your language.

False accusation

Depending on the details of the human trafficking cases, we might be able to make an argument to the prosecutor the alleged victim had a motive to falsely accuse you.

Perhaps the allegations were made out of anger or jealously, or they were attempting to gain an advantage to cover up their own involvement in criminal activity.

Clearly, every Penal Code 136.1 PC human trafficking case is unique. Our lawyers need to first review the specific details in order to develop a relevant defense strategy.

Criminal Defense For Human Trafficking Charges in California

If you or a family member has been charged with violating California Penal Code 136.1 PC human trafficking laws, our experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers can give you the best chance at a favorable outcome.

Criminal Defense For Human Trafficking Charges in California
Contact our top-rated criminal lawyers at Eisner Gorin LLP to learn how we can help you.

Eisner Gorin LLP is a top-ranked criminal defense law firm representing clients throughout Southern California, including Los Angeles County, Orange County, Ventura County, San Bernardino, Riverside, Long Beach, Pasadena, and the San Fernando Valley.

Through the process of prefiling interventions, we might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to avoid the formal filing of criminal charges before court.

Our law firm is located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067. 

Our main office is next to the Van Nuys Court at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401.

Contact our firm for an immediate consultation at (877) 871-1570.  

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