Human trafficking is a serious crime with penalties to match; the courts do not take human trafficking accusations lightly. In the unfortunate event that you find yourself involved in a human trafficking criminal case in Georgia, you must take immediate action to protect your rights. Otherwise, you could face years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines, as well as a permanent criminal record. Learn the details of Georgia’s human trafficking laws for more information about this crime.
Georgia Code Section 16-5-46
Section 16-5-46 of the Georgia Code defines the state’s main human trafficking law. It lists the “trafficking of a person for labor or sexual servitude” as a crime. Someone is guilty of human trafficking if that person knowingly subjects or maintains someone else for labor or sexual purposes through means of coercion, deception, or induction. The following actions constitute human trafficking in Georgia:
- Causing bodily harm, threatening to cause harm, blackmailing, drugging, or deceiving someone else into labor or sexual servitude.
- Promising something of value to obtain sexually explicit conduct or sexual performance from someone under the age of 18.
- Recruiting, obtaining, transporting, harboring, or enticing another person for labor or sexual servitude.
- Destroying or concealing someone’s passport or immigration document to use that person for labor or sexual servitude.
“Labor servitude” means performing work or service of financial/economic value under coercion or deception. “Sexual servitude” means any sexually explicit conduct performed or provided through coercion or deception. Human trafficking in Georgia is a felony that comes with penalties of one to 20 years imprisonment, and/or thousands of dollars in fines. If the victim is under the age of 18, the minimum sentence is 10 years.
Georgia House Bill 200
In 2011, Georgia Senate passed House Bill (HB) 200 to help combat human sex trafficking in the state. HB 200 increased the criminal punishments for human trafficking significantly, from a potential prison sentence of one year to a minimum of 10 years. Under the provisions of HB 200, those convicted of a sex trafficking crime involving minors might face 25 years to life in prison, with a minimum sentence of 20 years.
HB 200 also removed the defendant’s ability to use the alleged victim’s age of consent or lack of knowledge of age as a defense. Prior to the passing of HB 200, a common defense to human sex trafficking allegations was that the victim was 16 or older and was therefore of age to legally give consent to sexual relations or that the defendant did not know the age of the victim. These defenses will no longer stand in the state of Georgia. HB 200 also widened the definition of coercion and increased the punishments for pandering in certain situations.
Building a Human Trafficking Defense in Georgia
The moment you believe someone is accusing you of human labor or sex trafficking in Georgia, hire a Savannah criminal defense lawyer. Retaining a lawyer right from the beginning is your best chance at fighting the charges against you. Otherwise, you could make serious mistakes that hurt your case. An attorney might be able to argue your charges down to something lesser, minimize the penalties against you, or even convince the courts to dismiss your charges based on lack of evidence or another defense.
You don’t need an attorney to tell you that human trafficking is a serious crime in Georgia. The sooner you act to protect your rights as a defendant, the better your odds of a positive outcome will be. Several potential defenses exist to human trafficking allegations your lawyer might be able to use in your case. A conversation with a defense attorney is your first step toward fighting your charges and preserving your future.