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Human Trafficking

Federal charges for trafficking human beings involve an alleged offender using people for purposes such as commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, forced marriages, organ extraction, sexual slavery, or surrogacy arrangements. These crimes can involve undocumented aliens or minor children and are viewed as being a modern-day slave trade.

The penalties for a federal human being trafficking conviction can be very severe and may involve lengthy prison sentences, substantial fines, restitution to victims, and possible asset forfeiture. In addition to the tremendous social stigma an alleged offender feels as soon as they have been charged, federal prosecutors who bring these charges will aggressively seek the maximum possible punishment.

Dallas Human Trafficking Lawyer

If you are facing federal charges of trafficking human beings, it is in your best interest to immediately seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy defends the rights and good names of clients throughout Dallas County, including Balch Springs, Carrolton, Dallas, Garland, Grand Prairie, Irving, Mesquite, and Richardson.

Our firm also serves communities in surrounding areas like Arlington and Fort Worth in Tarrant County, Denton and Lewisville in Denton County, and Allen, Frisco, McKinney, and Plano in Collin County. We will provide a free consultation to discuss your case and evaluate your legal options when you call (972) 233-5700.


Overview of Human Trafficking


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Types of Federal Human Trafficking Charges

Some of the multiple federal laws that address these crimes include”

  • Peonage; Obstructing Enforcement, Title 18 U.S. Code § 1581 — Also known as debt slavery or debt servitude, peonage involves an alleged offender compelling a worker to pay off a debt with work. Under this section of Title 18, any person who holds or returns any person to a condition of peonage, arrests any person with the intent of placing him in or returning him to a condition of peonage, or obstructs, attempts to obstruct, prevents, or interferes in any way with the enforcement of this law can be fined and faces up to 20 years in prison. If the offense involves death, kidnapping, an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, it can result in a life sentence in prison.
  • Sale Into Involuntary Servitude, Title 18 U.S. Code § 1584 — Any person who knowingly and willfully holds to involuntary servitude or sells into any condition of involuntary servitude, any other person for any term, or brings within the United States any person so held, or obstructs, attempts to obstruct, prevents, or interferes in any way with the enforcement of this law can be fined and faces up to 20 years in prison. If the offense involves death, kidnapping, an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, it can result in a life sentence in prison.
  • Forced Labor, Title 18 U.S. Code § 1589 — Any person who knowingly provides or obtains the labor or services of a victim by any one or combination of means of force, threats of force, physical restraint, threats of physical restraint to the victim or another person, serious harm or threats of serious harm to the victim or another person, abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process, or any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the victim to believe that, if that person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint, can be fined and faces up to 20 years in prison. Additionally, people who knowingly benefit, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture which has engaged in the providing or obtaining of labor or services by any of these means can also be fined and faces up to 20 years in prison. If the offense involves death, kidnapping, an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, it can result in a life sentence in prison.
  • Trafficking with Respect to Peonage, Slavery, Involuntary Servitude, or Forced Labor, Title 18 U.S. Code § 1590 — Any person who knowingly recruits, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains by any means, any person for labor or services, or obstructs, attempts to obstruct, prevents, or interferes in any way with the enforcement of this law can be fined and faces up to 20 years in prison. If the offense involves death, kidnapping, an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, it can result in a life sentence in prison.
  • Sex Trafficking of Children or by Force, Fraud, or Coercion, Title 18 U.S. Code § 1591 — Any person who knowingly, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, obtains, maintains by any means a person, or benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value from participating in such a venture, can be fined and faces up to a life sentence in prison. A person who obstructs, attempts to obstruct, prevents, or interferes in any way with the enforcement of this law can be fined and faces up to 20 years in prison.
  • Unlawful Conduct with Respect to Documents in Furtherance of Trafficking, Peonage, Slavery, Involuntary Servitude, or Forced Labor, Title 18 U.S. Code § 1592 — Any person who knowingly destroys, conceals, removes, confiscates, or possesses any actual or purported passport or other immigration document, or any other actual or purported government identification document, of another person in the course of violating or having the intent to violate Title 18 U.S. Code §§ 1581, 1583, 1584, 1589, 1590, 1591, or 1594(a), preventing or restricting or attempting to prevent or restrict, without lawful authority, the victim’s liberty to move or travel, in order to maintain the labor or services of the victim, or obstructs, attempts to obstruct, prevents, or interferes in any way with the enforcement of this law can be fined and faces up to five years in prison.

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Provisions under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) is a federal statute that was originally passed into law in 2000 and since been reauthorized in 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2013. Some of the provisions of the TVPA include:

  • Mandatory Restitution, Title 18 U.S. Code § 1593 — This allows the court to order a convicted offender to pay the victim the full amount of the victim’s losses, including the greater of the gross income or value to the defendant of the victim’s services or labor or the value of the victim’s labor as guaranteed under the minimum wage and overtime guarantees of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Property Forfeiture, Title 18 U.S. Code §§ 1594(d) and 1594(e) — This allows the court to order a convicted offender to forfeit to the United States any real or personal property used or intended to be used to commit or to facilitate the commission of a trafficking violation of this chapter, or derived from proceeds traceable to any trafficking violation.
  • Civil Remedy, Title 18 U.S. Code § 1595 — This allows a trafficking victim to bring a civil action against any perpetrator or beneficiary of a trafficking violation in an appropriate district court of the United States and recover damages and reasonable attorney fees.
  • Fraud and Misuse of Visas, Permits, and Other Documents, Title 18 U.S. Code § 1546 — Any person who knowingly supplies, forges, uses the identity of another person, possesses blank permits, or commits perjury in applying for any immigrant or nonimmigrant visas, permits, border crossing cards, alien registration receipt cards can be fined and faces up to 25 years in prison.

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Federal Mandatory Minimum Penalties for Human Trafficking in Dallas

In regards to certain trafficking crimes, an alleged offender may face possible mandatory minimum prison sentences:

  • Title 18 U.S. Code 1591(b)(1) — Sex trafficking of a child under 14 or force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion can result in mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison
  • Title 18 U.S. Code 1591(b)(2) — Sex trafficking of a child at least 14 years of age but younger than 18 years of age and offense was not effected by force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion can result in mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison
  • Title 18 U.S. Code 2252A(g) — Engaging in a child exploitation enterprise can result in mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison
  • Title 18 U.S. Code 3559(e) — Sex trafficking of a child in which a minor is the victim and the alleged offender has a prior sex conviction in which a minor was the victim can result in a mandatory minimum life sentence

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Texas Human Trafficking Defenses

While these types of trafficking charges can make alleged offenders feel as though they have been found guilty before they even step in to a courtroom, there are certain defenses that may help get the charges they face reduced or possible even dismissed. A few examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Illegal search and seizure
  • Lack of evidence
  • Lack of probable cause
  • Alleged victim willfully participated in activities
  • You had no financial incentive
  • You had no illegal intent
  • You were unaware of victim’s immigration status 

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Find the Best Human Trafficking Lawyer in Dallas

All federal charges need to be taken seriously, and this is especially true when you have been accused of trafficking human beings. Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy represents clients throughout the greater Dallas area, including Wise County, Tarrant County, Rockwall County, Johnson County, Ellis County, Denton County, and Collin County.

Brian Bolton and Richard McConathy have both been recognized as Rising Stars by Texas Monthly Magazine. Our Dallas criminal defense attorneys can review your case when you call (972) 233-5700 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.


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*Free consultation applies only for active criminal cases seeking to retain the office

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