While human trafficking charges under N.J.S.A. 2C:13-8 tend to be rare, our Essex County criminal lawyers do handle a number of these cases each year. If you have been arrested or charged with human trafficking in Livingston, Roseland, Millburn or another municipal in the county, your case will be heard at the Superior Court in Newark. This court is the only one to hear and preside over felony charges like those involved in a human trafficking case. The following is some important information you probably want to know about this charge.
Human Trafficking is a first degree crime, the most serious grade of offense under NJ Law. In order to prove this charge, the State is required to prove that the Defendant knowingly held, recruited, lured, enticed, harbored, transported, provided or obtained by any means, another to engage in sexual activity, labor or services. The State must also prove a second element by showing that the Defendant achieved this goal by causing or threatening to cause serious bodily harm or physical restraint against any person, or by scheming or planning to cause the victim to believe that they or any other person would suffer serious bodily harm or physical restraint, or by criminal coercion. The second element can also be satisfied by showing that the Defendant destroyed, concealed, confiscated or possessed a passport or immigration-related document issued by a government agency, or threatened to use or abuse the legal system, or facilitated access to a Controlled Dangerous Substance. Even if the aforementioned elements are not satisfied, the State can prove a violation of the Human Trafficking law by showing that the Defendant received anything of value for his or her participation as an organizer, supervisor, financier or manager in a scheme or course of conduct constituting Human Trafficking. If the person being held, recruited, lured, enticed, harbored, transported, provided or obtained by any means, another to engage in sexual activity was under the age of 18, the second element requiring force or threat of force is no longer required. It is important to recognize that if the Defendant was a victim of human trafficking themselves, they are entitled to an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is one that must be proven by the Defendant in order to apply.
New Jersey has adopted severe penalties for human trafficking, even more severe than those ordinarily associated with a crime of the first degree. If convicted, the term of imprisonment is either a 20 year sentence without parole eligibility, or a fixed term between 20 years and life imprisonment, the first 20 years of which the Defendant shall be ineligible for parole. The minimum fine for a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:13-8 is $25,000, which is payed to the Human Trafficker Survivor’s Assistance Fund. Additionally, the victim receives restitution from the Defendant for the amount of work or labor they performed while in captivity.
For further assistance or to discuss representation, contact our Newark Office at 973-710-1520.