Human trafficking crimes include instances of sex and labor trafficking, forced servitude and slavery. Federal laws punish these crimes as well as actions associated with these crimes.

These are answers to the most common questions about human trafficking charges and potential penalties for these crimes.

What actions fall under human trafficking laws?

Activities punished by federal human trafficking laws include but are not limited to the following:

  • Luring an individual into a vehicle, vessel or anywhere else with the intention of capture for slavery
  • Profiting from human trafficking
  • Kidnapping an individual with the intention of forced servitude or slavery
  • Stealing, destroying or removing a person’s passport or legal documents to prevent escape
  • Knowingly transporting a victim of human trafficking
  • Engaging in conspiracy to commit human trafficking

Contrary to popular belief, trafficking does not require movement of the individual. It merely requires that one person holds another against his or her will for labor or sexual servitude.

What are the penalties for human trafficking?

Holding a person for involuntary servitude carries up to 20 years in federal prison as well as fines. If kidnapping, sexual abuse, murder or other extenuating circumstances exist in the case, the individual could receive life in prison. Penalties also increase for trafficking of children, including a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison. Those convicted must also pay their victims mandatory restitution.

Do states have human trafficking laws?

Since 2003, every state has adopted laws penalizing human trafficking. In Texas, the Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime Section established by the Attorney General’s Office strives to assist federal prosecution of human trafficking in the state.

Aggressive investigative efforts can sometimes result in wrongful conviction. For example, a person may receive a trafficking charge if he or she has a domestic employee such as a nanny or housekeeper who has an undocumented immigration status.