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Sex Trafficking in Michigan: Everything You Need to Know

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and ranks second, after drug trafficking, as the largest criminal enterprise in the world.

Statistics show that human trafficking affects approximately 4.8 million victims, 51% of which are women and 20% young girls, exploited as commercial sex workers.

According to official Michigan State Police reports, Michigan ranks 10th among the states with the highest incidences of human trafficking.

Sex Trafficking in Michigan

Human trafficking falls into two broad categories, namely sex trafficking and forced labor trafficking.

If you are under investigation for human trafficking in Michigan, or anywhere in the United States, you may need to hire the services of a skilled criminal defense lawyer. The right criminal defense attorney will help increase your chances of getting a favorable outcome for your human trafficking charge.

Human trafficking

What is Sex Trafficking?

Sex trafficking refers to human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Sex trafficking often happens when human offenders use force, fraud, or coercion to make others perform commercial sex or work.

Michigan Human Trafficking Laws

The charging of sex trafficking crimes in Michigan occurs under Michigan’s human trafficking laws, divided into three categories, under section MCL 750.459 of the Michigan penal code:

  1. MCL 750.459(1): Transportation of Persons for Prostitution
  2. MCL 750.459(2): Selling Travel Services for Human Trafficking or Prostitution Purposes
  3. MCL 750.459(3): Trafficking of Minors

1. Transportation of Persons for Prostitution

Under MCL 750.459(1) of the Michigan penal code, a person shall not willingly transport or be a party to the transportation of a person, into, across, or through the state of Michigan for the purpose of prostitution, or with the intent of inducing, enticing, or compelling that person to become a prostitute or engage in other commercial sex acts.

Upon a conviction violating this subsection of the law, the offender will be guilty of a felony punishable not more than 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $20,000.00, or both.

2. Selling Travel Services for Human Trafficking or Prostitution Purposes

Under subsection MCL 750.459(2) of the Michigan penal code, a person shall not knowingly engage in the selling or an offer to sell travel services intended to be used to transport persons for prostitution or human trafficking into, across, or through the state of Michigan.

If convicted of human trafficking under this subsection of the Michigan criminal law, a person shall be guilty of a felony, attracting a penalty of up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $10,000.00, or both. However, if the violation involves minors, the offender will be charged and sentenced under MCL section 750.459(3), which deals with the trafficking of minors.

3. Trafficking of Minors

Because Human trafficking can affect children in a huge way by robbing them of the joys of childhood, laws on trafficking minors are very tough.

As a result, any commercial sexual activity with a minor, even without coercion, fraud, or force, is considered sex trafficking. Additionally, minors engaging in survival sex to obtain necessities like shelter, food, or transportation are considered sex trafficking victims.

Under section MCL 750.459(3), if a violation of subsection MCL 750.459(2) involves minors, the accused will be guilty of a felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $15,000.00, or both.

“Travel Services” Definition:

As used under MCL section 750.459 of the Michigan penal code, “travel services” include:

  • Transportation by air, water, road, or rail
  • Hotel or lodge accommodation
  • Redeemable voucher for future travel, package tours, and accommodation for a fee or commission

Federal Human Trafficking Laws

Human trafficking is a crime on a national and international level, and is referred to by many as modern-day slavery.

If human trafficking cases go beyond state or national borders, federal law enforcement gets involved, resulting in federal charges.

Federal Human Trafficking Laws

Upon arrest, the accused will be prosecuted under several human trafficking statutes, including peonage, involuntary servitude, forced labor, and child sex trafficking laws.

Peonage

Under federal law, section 18 U.S.C. § 1581, it’s a criminal offense for a person to hold another in debt servitude or peonage.

If convicted of human trafficking under this section of the law, the accused faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison, a fine, or both.

If death occurs during the violation of this offense, or if the violation of this law involves kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, attempted sexual abuse, or attempted murder, the offender shall be looking at an indeterminate prison sentence that may includes life in prison, fines, or both.

According to this section of the federal law, any form of obstruction to the enforcement of this law will result in similar penalties as the commission of the offense.

Involuntary Servitude

Under federal law, section 18 U.S.C. § 1584, it’s a criminal offense for someone holding a person in servitude against their will.

Penalties for a conviction with human trafficking under this section of the law offense include fines and up to 20 years in prison.

If kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, death, attempt to murder, aggravated sexual assault, or attempted aggravated sexual assault occurred during the commission of the crime, the offender will be facing an indeterminate prison sentence that includes life in prison.

Forced Labor

Federal law, section 18 U.S.C. § 1589, states that it’s a criminal offense for any person to knowingly obtain labor from a person through threats or physical restraint of the person.

Under the same section of the law, if any scheme is used to make the human trafficking victims believe they will get harmed if they don’t offer the labor services, the accused will be charged with human trafficking under section 18 U.S.C. § 1589, the forced labor statute. The same applies if abuse or threats to abuse the law was used to intimidate the other person.

Upon a conviction in violation of this section of the law, the accused faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine, or both.

If kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, death, attempt to murder, aggravated sexual assault, or attempted aggravated sexual assault occurred during the commission of the crime, the offender will be facing an indeterminate prison sentence that includes life in prison.

Child Sex Trafficking

Under federal law, section 18 U.S.C. § 1591 states that it’s a criminal offense for any person to knowingly facilitate the transportation of persons under 18 years of age through interstate or international boundaries for sexual exploitation. This section of the law also prohibits receiving or benefiting in any way from the proceeds of commercial sex acts performed by the victim.

Human trafficking cases involving children carry severe penalties. If convicted, the accused will be looking at an indefinite term that includes life in prison, if the victim is below 14 years old. However, if the victim is 14 or older, the offender will be looking at a maximum of 40 years in prison.

Other Federal Laws

Other applicable federal laws for human trafficking cases include section 18 U.S.C. § 1590, human trafficking with respect to forced labor, involuntary servitude, or slavery and section 18 U.S.C. § 1592, which deals with human trafficking involving illegal confiscation or destruction of another person’s travel and identification documents for the purpose of controling them.

A violation of these sections of the law attracts penalties similar to the ones mentioned earlier.

Facing Human Trafficking Charges? You Need a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney to Help You Defend Your Case

If you are a resident of Michigan, or live within the United States, Nicole Blank Becker of Blank Law, PC is your goto sex crimes attorney.

Nicole has over two decades of experience in state and federal criminal law. For the most significant part of her more than 20 years of practice, Nicole has solely focused on sex crimes. Having been the Chief of the Sexual Crimes Unit as a prosecutor, and now being a criminal defense attorney, she has a deep understanding and insight into all matters related to sex crimes, including sex trafficking.

Nicole Blank Becker - Lawyer for Sexting Crime

When facing human trafficking charges, or any criminal sexual conduct charge, your future will depend on the outcome of your case, so now is not the time to gamble with an inexperienced lawyer.

Over the years, Nicole Blank Becker has handled several human trafficking cases with outstanding success, so you can trust her to offer you the best legal advice and get you the best possible outcome for your case.

Call Blank Law, PC at (248) 515-6583 now, or contact us online to book a free consultation and get Nicole on your side.

3150 Livernois Rd. Suite 126
Troy, MI 48083
(248) 515-6583
law@nicoleblankbecker.com

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