San Antonio Child Trafficking Defense Lawyer

Child Trafficking Defense Attorney

Sex crime cases involving children, such as trafficking, are some of the most sensitive for obvious reasons. Even an accusation can shatter your life and impact your relationships with your family, co-workers, and neighbors. This is why you should start working with a San Antonio child trafficking defense attorney as soon as you are charged or even suspect that you are under investigation for trafficking of a minor.

The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC are ready to provide you with expert legal guidance as you navigate the complex stages of a federal sex crime case. We will do whatever it takes to protect your rights and freedom as you fight to prove your innocence. Our skilled trial attorneys are ready to help you fight for justice now.

Child Trafficking Charges Explained

Human trafficking typically refers to the practice of forcing people to perform labor or services for no compensation. However, certain trafficking crimes can involve alleged child victims being forced to perform sexual acts.

Under the Texas Penal Code, trafficking of a person means any activity intended to recruit, transport, or otherwise obtain a person for the purpose of:

  • Performing labor
  • Providing services
  • Engaging in sexual activity 

When a victim is under 18, the offense is considered child trafficking. While these children may be forced to work in factories and other places where they provide unpaid or poorly paid labor, a significant percentage of cases involve them being subjected to crimes like:

  • Indecency with a child
  • Sexual assault
  • Prostitution
  • Continuous sexual abuse of a child
  • Sexual performance by a child (includes child pornography) 

You could also be charged with child trafficking if you are suspected of participating in a trafficking venture or engaging in sexual conduct with a trafficked child. These charges can be laid regardless of whether you knew the child was under 18 at the time of the offense. At the state level, it is a first-degree felony that can result in a 99-year prison sentence and up to $10,000 in fines. 

Human trafficking often crosses state lines and borders, so many cases are investigated and prosecuted by federal agencies. Child trafficking is considered sex trafficking at the federal level, and a conviction carries a minimum prison term of at least ten years. 

Federal Child Trafficking Offenses

Trafficking of a minor is illegal under 18 U.S.C. § 1591. This law makes it a federal offense to entice, recruit, transport, provide, or obtain a child under the age of 18 while knowing or disregarding the fact that they are underage and going to use for commercial sex purposes. The law also makes it illegal for individuals to engage in business ventures that procure minors for the purpose of committing commercial sex acts.

It is important to note that:

  • The child does not have to be moved across state or international borders for it to be a trafficking offense.
  • When the victim is a minor, prosecutors don’t require proof that you used or threatened force or coerced the child into complying.
  • The law applies equally to American children as well as foreign nationals brought into the country.

When the victim is under the age of 14 or the trafficking was done by force, fraud, or coercion, the minimum sentence is 15 years. When the victim is 14-17, the penalty for trafficking of a minor shall not be less than 10 years in prison. If you are accused of purchasing or selling children for purposes of child pornography or of aggravated sexual abuse with children, you could face up to 30 years in prison.

Those who obstruct or attempt to obstruct the enforcement of this statute face a maximum of 20 years in prison. In addition, convicted defendants must pay restitution to their victims for any losses they caused.

Transportation of Minors

Various activities related to the prostitution of children are criminalized under 18 U.S.C. §§ 2421 – 2423. Section 2421 and 2423(a) make it a crime to transport a minor or an individual across state lines in order to engage in prostitution or any other illegal sexual purpose. When a minor is transported across state lines in violation of Section 2423(a), the penalty is not less than 10 years in prison.

Use of Technology

Section 2422(b) makes it illegal to use the U.S. Mail, the Internet, or a phone to convince or coerce minors to engage in illegal sexual activity such as prostitution. For example, if you use text messages or chat programs to convince a child to meet you for the purposes of engaging in prostitution, you can be charged under this statute.  If convicted, you could spend 10 years to life in prison.

Transmitting Information About a Minor

18 U.S.C § 2425 prohibits the use of interstate tools like mail, phone service, or Internet to deliberately transmit information about a child under 16 to encourage any person to engage in criminal sexual activity. This information includes the child’s

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • Social Security number

The maximum sentence for this offense is five years in prison.

Common Defenses to Child Trafficking Allegations

When you’re facing child trafficking charges, you’ll need a team of experienced lawyers to help you prepare your defense. A child trafficking defense lawyer at Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC will begin an immediate investigation and review all evidence against you with the goal of getting the charges dropped or proving you innocent at trial. 

A child trafficking case can have a variety of defenses, but we need to carefully examine all the details to develop an effective strategy. Common defenses include:

  • Absence of Evidence: The prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A jury will find it difficult to convict you without sufficient evidence.
  • False accusation: Maybe the victim accused you in order to gain sympathy or get revenge. They might also mistake you for the actual perpetrator.
  • Illegal Search and Seizure: The law protects you from illegal searches and seizures. If anyone obtained evidence against you illegally, we will file a motion to suppress it so it is not admissible at trial.
  • Alibi: If you prove that you were not in the area when the offenses were committed, the case against you may be dismissed.

When Should You Hire a Child Trafficking Defense Attorney?

In light of human trafficking’s status as a modern slave trade, lawmakers are eager to promote harsh penalties and stir public fears. Slavery and sex crimes are combined in sex trafficking, which is particularly egregious when children are allegedly involved. Jurors will have this in mind, and a mere charge can result in severe prejudice for those accused.

Nevertheless, as with all criminal charges, prosecutors must prove all elements beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced sex crimes defense lawyer can point out the flaws in the prosecution’s case, creating the reasonable doubt that is necessary to avoid conviction.

For this reason, it’s crucial that you contact a criminal defense immediately after your arrest at the very latest. The sooner you have legal representation, the better. Without knowing your rights, you might do or say something that could lead to you being implicated in a child trafficking crime. 

When you call Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC, we will protect your rights during the investigation and any subsequent proceedings, such as a trial. After examining the evidence against you, we will strive to:

  • Undermine the prosecution’s case
  • Present evidence that proves your innocence or can raise reasonable doubt with a jury

If we can’t get the child trafficking charges dropped, we might be able to reach a plea agreement where you receive a lesser charge and punishment.

Get a Free Consultation From a Child Trafficking Defense Attorney Now

When you’re facing a child trafficking conviction, it can be stressful and traumatic. You worry about what kind of impact a guilty verdict will have on your family. It may be difficult for you to get a job after serving your sentence because of your criminal record. This can completely change your life.

We are here to offer you legal support, advice, and guidance when you need it most. If you were accused of child trafficking and don’t know the next steps to take, call Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC today at (866) 358-2235 for a free initial consultation or contact us online. A San Antonio child trafficking defense attorney will meet with you and go over your legal options, so you can feel more positive about the future.

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