Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is prohibited under both Nevada and Federal laws. If you have been found guilty of sex trafficking, you are likely to face harsh penalties, including a substantial prison sentence. Based on your actions, you could also face life in prison or many years behind bars, after which you will be obliged to register as a sex offender.

Since sex crimes offenses are handled seriously, you must make informed decisions while you fight these allegations. You should do everything necessary to avoid being convicted or to minimize the consequences you might face and having a criminal defense attorney can help you through the whole process. 

You want a Las Vegas criminal lawyer who can aggressively defend sex crimes charges and also has a lot of experience representing clients suspected of serious offenses. We at The Law Offices of Martin Hart can assist you. We have represented defendants charged with sex trafficking as well as other human trafficking offenses on both federal and state levels, and we can use our legal expertise to help your case.

Nevada Laws on Sex Trafficking

Nevada Revised Statute section 201.300 outlines the law that criminalizes sex crimes. As per Nevada laws, you can be charged with a category C felony when you coerce a grownup to illegally become a prostitute, keep engaging in prostitution, or go to any area in Nevada where acts of prostitution are encouraged, practiced, or permitted.

This crime does not extend to the prostitutes' customers, but it applies in other situations when adults are solicited or persuaded to participate in prostitution without using threats of force.

The same law also states that a person can be charged and convicted of sex trafficking offenses in a variety of circumstances. A defendant might be found guilty of sex trafficking if he or she:

  • Induces, recruits, transports, causes, obtain, harbors, or retains a minor to engage in prostitution or enter a location where acts of prostitution are encouraged, practiced, or permitted
  • Induces, recruits, houses, furnishes, acquires, or retains a person knowing that coercion, threats, abuse, deception, intimidation, threats, or duress would induce that individual to participate in acts of prostitution or go into a location where prostitution is encouraged, practiced, or permitted
  • Induces, recruits, houses, furnishes, acquires, or keeps an individual with reckless contempt with the knowledge that force, threats, intimidation, violence, duress, fraud, or coercion will lead that individuals to indulge in acts of prostitution or go into a prostitution establishment
  • Uses violence, threats, intimidation, force, duress, fraud, abuse of power, conversion, or any plan to induce, harbor, compel, cause, or solicit any individual to indulge in acts of prostitution or to gain entry into an area where prostitution is encouraged or practiced
  • Takes someone and uses force, threat, assault, or coercion to persuade them to marry someone else

It is important to note that when someone below the age of 18 is a sex trafficking victim engages in sex trafficking acts (or facilitates sex trafficking) and is convicted as an adult, there's a general assumption that that child committed the acts under duress.

It's also worth noting that sex trafficking includes capturing or detaining someone with the aim of forcing them to get married. This sort of sex trafficking is particularly prevalent in Las Vegas, when there's no requirement to wait a certain amount of time before getting married.

Prosecution of Sex Trafficking Crimes in Nevada

Law enforcement officers can wiretap suspects of sex trafficking. This implies that unless there is an urgency, law enforcement officers must obtain court authorization to wiretap somebody. When a trial occurs, these wiretaps could be admissible as evidence. It is worth noting that either the District Attorney (DA) or the Nevada Attorney General can pursue sex trafficking charges in Nevada.

Sex trafficking offenses involving minors are investigated and prosecuted by the Nevada State Advocate for Missing and Exploited Children's office.

Nevada legislation now explicitly allows the inclusion of expert witnesses addressing the "prostitution subculture" along with other methods of showing criminal culpability according to Nevada Revised Statutes 201.305. This indicates that the prosecution can try to explain seemingly benign behavior using an "expert" witness concerning:

  • The mechanics of, the connection between an individual who engaged in acts of prostitution and someone who indulges in sex trafficking or pandering in contravention of Nevada Revised Statutes 201.300, as well as the manipulative and psychological manipulation tactics employed in that connection
  • The usual behavior as well as the language of the prostitute subculture

Federal Laws on Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is illegal in Nevada, as well as other states. However, executing the acts of a sex trafficking organization in a manner that impacts foreign and interstate commerce, or that entails traveling in foreign or interstate commerce, is considered a federal offense.

The acts of a sex trafficking operation that affect foreign or interstate trade, including supporting such an organization, are illegal under Title 18, Section 1591 of the U.S. Code. The Mann Act makes it illegal to engage in sex trafficking acts that include foreign or interstate travel.

In Nevada, federal sex trafficking proceedings are heard in the George Federal Courthouse or the Thompson Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas and Reno, respectively.

Penalties for Sex Trafficking in Nevada

If the sex trafficking victim is a grown-up, the suspected trafficker could be convicted with a category B felony, which has a minimum sentence of 3 years and a possible sentence of 10 years in prison, and also maximum fines of $10,000.

When the sex trafficking victim is a minor below 13 years at the moment when the crime was being commissioned, the offense is classified as a category A felony, and a perpetrator can be convicted to life imprisonment with the chance of parole after 15 years. On conviction, a defendant faces a fine of up to $20,000.

If the sex trafficking victim is between the ages of 14 and 16, the crime is classified as a category A felony, with a potential sentence of life imprisonment with a chance of parole after the defendant serves 10 years, as well as a $10,000 fine.

In each or both of the following instances, Nevada courts have the authority to impose an additional fine of $500,000:

  • The accused used physical force and violence on the minor victim (or threatened to employ such force), and/or
  • The accused was a participant in a child sex trafficking conspiracy

If the accused has been charged with sex trafficking a minor under this provision, the judge cannot grant him or her a suspended sentence or probation, and the victim's consent to acts of prostitution is not recognized as a defense. A defendant's argument that he or she was not aware of the age of a victim of sex trafficking is similarly not a legal defense.

Finally, in Nevada, sex trafficking is a distinct offense from human trafficking. Human trafficking is defined as the illegal transportation of an individual into Nevada for monetary benefits or illegal acts like forced labor.

Defenses to Nevada Sex Trafficking Charges

Sex trafficking charges are usually difficult to solve, and they often necessitate extensive police investigations. Depending on the facts, there are legal defenses that would be most successful against Nevada Revised Statutes 201.300 accusations. The following are some of the most common defenses:

A Lack of Knowledge

Under Nevada Revised Statutes 201.300, defendants who have no awareness that violence or intimidation was employed to entice an adult victim into indulging in prostitution are not guilty of the sex trafficking crime. A driver who is paid to carry a victim, for example, commits no offense if he or she is unaware that his or her passenger would be coerced into committing acts of prostitution at the location. A driver who was paid to bring the victim to a house of prostitution, on the other hand, could be found accountable if the driver rationally concluded that their passenger would be solicited as a prostitute.

Unlawful Search and Seizure

Courts have the authority to invalidate sex trafficking allegations based purely on police errors. When pursuing a purported crime, police officers may conduct illegal unreasonable search and seizure. In such cases, the defense lawyer can submit a petition to suppress. The petition asks the judge to throw out any proof obtained as a result of the unlawful search. When the court agrees, the prosecutors may be able to withdraw the charges due to a lack of evidence.

The prosecution did not demonstrate guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt, which is another legal defense to any offense. The charges can be dropped if the prosecutors fail to show adequate evidence to establish guilt.

Restitution to the Victim

The judge may require the offender to compensate the victim. The following could be included in victim restitution:

  • The victim's physical and psychological therapy costs
  • The expense of the victim's transportation, interim accommodation, repatriation, relocation, and/or child care
  • The value of the victim's damaged or lost possessions

It's worth mentioning that sex trafficking victims who go back to their homes are still entitled to recompense. Also, surviving children of victims may be eligible for restitution.

Will You be Required to Register as a Sex Offender?

In Nevada, anyone charged with sex trafficking must register as sex offenders. People charged with adult sex trafficking are normally designated as Tier I violators under Nevada Revised Statutes 179D.113. Tier II violators are those who are charged with child sex trafficking as per Nevada Revised Statutes 179D.115.

Asset Forfeiture

Whatever assets that are obtained by pandering are susceptible to forfeiture. A petition for forfeiture should first be filed by law enforcement. Law enforcement officials can request a protective order to prevent the assets from being hidden or sold in any procedure or inquiry related to the request. If the properties are forfeited, they'll be transferred first to the accused's victim to settle all appropriate fines and reparations, and thereafter to programs designed to discourage child sex trafficking and help prostitution victims in their recovery.

Civil Cause of Action

Sex trafficking victims can sue for damages and appropriate attorney's fees in civil court. In some cases, successful litigants may additionally be entitled to obtain punitive damages.

If you've been accused of sex trafficking, you could face civil suits from your victim or their family demanding compensation for:

  • Actual losses
  • Punitive damages
  • Compensatory damages
  • Attorney’s service charges and costs
  • Any further relief that the court considers fit

The statute of limitations for this cause of action is ten years. However, anyone who aids or abets a sex trafficking crime is not subject to civil responsibility under Section 1595. Finally, 1595 requires that any civil lawsuit be delayed until the completion of a criminal inquiry and conviction.

Related Offenses

Below are some offenses related to sex trafficking crimes in Nevada.

Conspiracy to Commit Sex Trafficking

This offense is not the same thing as sex trafficking. According to Nevada Revised Statutes 199.480, a criminal conspiracy is defined as when two or more people conspire to break the law. Conspiring to perpetrate an offense  is prohibited even though the intended offense is never carried out and the schemers take no obvious steps toward the commissioning of the crime. A conspiracy can be founded simply by making an agreement to violate the laws.

A violation of NRS 199.480 in Nevada is considered a gross misdemeanor or a class B felony. It is dependent on the nature of the underlying crime. Defendants are charged with both conspiracy as well as the underlying crime or attempt if they attempted or executed the underlying crime.

Conspiracy to conduct sex trafficking is classified as a category B felony with the following potential penalties:

  • From one to six years in state prison in Nevada
  • Potential fines of up to $5,000

Facilitating Sex Trafficking

According to NRS 201.301, a defendant will be charged with facilitating sex trafficking when they:

  • Facilitate, provide, pay, or arrange for another person's transportation to or within Nevada with the goal of enticing that individual to participate in illegal sexual behavior or acts of prostitution, or, in some cases if that individual is a minor, certain activities related to pornography that involves children
  • Offer transportation services with the understanding that another individual is coming to Nevada with the intent of indulging in sexual behavior with a sex trafficking victim, enticing a minor who is a sex trafficking victim, or indulging in certain actions about pornography that involves minors
  • Travel within or to Nevada through any methods to indulge in sexual acts with a sex trafficking victim with the awareness that that victim has been enticed to indulge in sexual acts or prostitution, or in certain actions involving pornography that involves children

Facilitating sex trafficking is a category B felony that carries the following penalties:

  • One to six years in prison if the victim is above 18 years
  • Three to ten years behind bars if the victim is below 18 years

Contact a Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

If you've been accused of a sex crime, it is crucial that you take this situation seriously. Sexual offenses are among the most harshly punished offenses in Nevada, and those suspected to have committed them suffer constant humiliation and have their reputations permanently tainted. For such reasons, you need to engage an experienced Nevada sex crimes attorney to represent you throughout the legal process.

At The Law Offices of Martin Hart, our criminal defense lawyers are highly acquainted with the laws surrounding sex trafficking and we can use our extensive experience with these matters to assist you in fighting for a favorable outcome. Give us a call today at 702-380-4278.