Posted on 6/11/17

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in awareness with respect to human trafficking. While human trafficking primarily occurs outside of the United States, there is much human trafficking within our borders, as well.

The rise in human trafficking awareness is contemporaneous with the rise in prosecution of that crime. Because the crime is considered heinous, prosecutors, especially federal prosecutors, tend to be more zealous than average when prosecuting those accused. Therefore, if you have been accused of human trafficking, do not speak with anyone regarding the charges; instead, speak with an attorney.

Human Trafficking Defined

Texas Attorney General Kevin Bales defines Human Trafficking  as  “a relationship in which one person is controlled by violence through violence, the threat of violence, or psychological coercion, has lost free will and free movement, is exploited economically, and paid nothing beyond subsistence.” In other words, it is modern day slavery.

The main types of human trafficking are:

  • Trafficking of children and adults for forced labor, such as working in a factory, performing agriculture-related work, and forced working in the food industry; and

  • Trafficking of children and adults for sexual slavery, including working as prostitutes, strippers, and actors in brothels.

Coercion for sex trafficking, especially in regard to children, can be done in various forms. Promises of romance, money, jewelry, clothing, and shelter are all considered forms of coercion. Peer pressure can also rise to the level of coercion, which may make the peer applying the pressure guilty of sex trafficking.

Recently, prosecutors successfully prosecuted an Irving 17-year-old high school student for human trafficking when the student brought fellow-student underage girls, ages 14 to 17, for sexual encounters with men. This suggests that the authorities target all types of trafficking, not just long-time traffickers known to the police.


Because the prosecution is so zealous, it is imperative to have an advocate who can see the nuances of the case. To prove human trafficking, authorities will often look to motel and telephone records to create a narrative of sex trafficking. The prosecution will try persuading a jury, based on various factors, that the defendant engaged in human trafficking. However, if there are cracks in the case, e.g. irregularities in the way the prosecution presented how the events connect, then the defendant may be able to assert innocence. The prosecution has the duty of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; the defendant’s task is to demonstrate that reasonable doubt exists. If, along the way, there was reasonable doubt about how the prosecution portrays the defendant’s actions, then the defendant can create reasonable doubt.

The prosecution also uses to demonstrate human trafficking. In such cases, the prosecution might try to portray the defendant as a controlling boss who used violence against his charges as a tool for intimidation. The prosecution might try to enter medical records of hospital stays as evidence of the defendant’s wrongdoing. However, a prostitute is unlikely to provide her real name to the hospital, which can hurt the prosecution’s case.

If you have been accused of human trafficking, you face severe jail time and other penalties. To counter an overzealous prosecution, contact the law firm of Christopher Abel.

(image courtesy of Gus Ruballo)


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