Police investigations, arrests and convictions for prostitution, pimping and human trafficking are on the rise.
This can be seen in two recent news stories – 5 San Gabriel Valley residents were recently arrested under suspicion of a large human trafficking ring spanning numerous countries and a second large sting involving over 200 arrests in the Sepulveda Boulevard and Lankershim Boulevard corridors in the San Fernando Valley.
Getting arrested for these types of offenses can lead to quite serious consequences, including jail, prison, probation, asset forfeiture and even deportation.
What are these types of charges and what are the penalties?
Starting with the least serious offenses, prostitution and solicitation. Sometimes described as a “victimless crime” or a crime between “consenting adults” this has become an enforcement priority in some communities.
Prostitution can be defined as sexual intercourse or a lewd act with someone else in exchange for money or other compensation, and simply agreeing to committing prostitution or requesting (soliciting) an act of prostitution can also be charged. Penalties include jail time, AIDS testing and probation, but, the more prior convictions someone has the minimum jail times go up. Sometimes people are ordered to stay away from certain streets where they were arrested.
Also, prostitution is a crime involving moral turpitude. This type of offense is both a ground of deportability and inadmissibility, which may result in serious immigration consequences. However, there is exception and defense available under each ground.
Pimping can be defined as knowingly benefiting from the income of a prostitute, often by loaning or advancing them money or a place to work, accepting the proceeds or requesting a cut from the proceeds of a prostitute. This is a Felony offense and carries a punishment of up to six years in state prison.
Even more serious are Human Trafficking related offenses. This is defined as depriving or violating the personal liberty of another to commit a variety of offenses related to prostitution and/or pimping, etc. Typically, this involves allegations that people are transported from outside of California and “forced” into committing sexual acts for money or other compensation. This is a Felony offense, and can carry a punishment of up to 20 years in state prison.
These 2 recent cases have people charged at each of these levels of offenses. One thing to notice is that a “prostitute” might also be seen as a “victim” of human trafficking, and there are special considerations for people in that situation, often involving immigration consequences.
USCIS helps protect victims of human trafficking and other crimes by providing immigration relief. Victims of human trafficking may qualify for a U-visa. The U-visa is set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.
A U-Visa provides the following benefits:
These types of cases often involve audio and video recordings, undercover officers and decoys and increasingly involve online advertisements as well as hotels, private residences and massage establishments. These cases often turn on precise wording, search warrants, tips from neighbors and require skill to defend against.
Consult with a qualified Criminal Defense Attorney if you have been investigated, arrested or charged with one of these crimes or related offenses.If you were a victim of human trafficking, now worried about immigration consequences or would like to learn more about U-visa, consult with an experienced Immigration attorney.
----Article is jointly provided by Nicholas Rosenberg, Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and Law Offices of Sabrina Li
Los Angeles County Office
Orange County Office