California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a bill into law that will increase the penalties for child trafficking and make it a “strikable” offense. Understanding the implications of these changes to the laws is crucial for those accused of child trafficking crimes in California. The stakes are higher than ever before.
Key Changes in California’s Child Trafficking Laws
Under California’s new law, human trafficking of a child for the purposes of commercial sex acts will become a serious felony, carrying stricter penalties and longer sentences. Under the previous law, convicted offenders faced 12 or more years in prison. The changes in the law increase the minimum sentences.
Upgrading the crime to a serious felony means the offense is now considered a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law. As such, repeat offenders or those with other serious felony convictions will now face 25 years to life behind bars.
Implications for the Accused
The change to the child trafficking law can drastically alter the outcomes for those convicted of the crime in California. Prison terms are longer and potentially lifelong if the accused was previously convicted of other serious felonies. For this reason, it’s critical to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest.
Common Defense Strategies in Child Trafficking Cases
An experienced trafficking defense lawyer can utilize various strategies to build the strongest possible defense, including:
- Challenging the evidence – An attorney will scrutinize all evidence of the alleged offense, including communications, financial records, and digital evidence. They will look for improper collection methods, missed chain of custody protocols, or other issues that could make key evidence inadmissible in court. Suppression of evidence could significantly weaken the prosecution’s case.
- Questioning the credibility of witnesses – Witness testimony is often crucial in trafficking cases. A defense lawyer will investigate the backgrounds, motivations, and credibility of witnesses. If they can undermine an essential witness’s trustworthiness, they can cast doubt on their damaging testimony against the defendant.
- Exploring alternative explanations – A defense attorney can also develop and present alternatives that reasonably explain the circumstances without implying their client’s guilt. For example, they may argue financial transactions were for legitimate business purposes rather than illegal activities.
By leveraging these strategies, an experienced attorney may get the charges reduced or dismissed. Hiring someone with an in-depth knowledge of child trafficking defense is vital for those facing charges under California’s new laws.
The Importance of Early Legal Intervention
The complex nature of human trafficking cases means early intervention is vital to a strong defense. These cases often involve multiple jurisdictions, digital evidence, and financial records. A lawyer needs time to go through discovery, build a defense strategy, and prevent charges from being stacked against their client. Those charged with child trafficking should not wait to seek experienced legal help.
Contact a Trafficking Defense Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you are facing child trafficking charges in California, retain skilled legal representation immediately. The Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling is an acclaimed Los Angeles law firm representing clients accused of child trafficking and other sex crimes. Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.