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Los Angeles Lawyers for Sex Trafficking Victims

Los Angeles attorneys holding sex traffickers accountable across California

At Taylor & Ring, our Los Angeles sex trafficking lawyers have the experience and resources to file and litigate these cases in court. We work with investigators to prove trafficking occurred, and with medical professionals and counselors to verify the physical harm and long-term emotional scars of the victims. We have a team of female and male lawyers to explain your rights and calmly guide you through the litigation process.

From the beginning, I knew I was in compassionate hands with Taylor and Ring. I was represented by Mr. Ring, and as a sexual abuse survivor, I felt that he went above and beyond a typical trial lawyer's obligations. Mr. Ring demonstrated such kindness and professionalism throughout my litigation experience that a process which can often feel worse than the abuse felt humane and empowering. I am forever grateful to have had Taylor and Ring's representation during a time when I felt completely alone. They are the best of the best!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ [Google Review]

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How does California define sex trafficking?

There are two federal sex trafficking laws. The first law makes sex trafficking illegal. The second law helps to protect the victims of sex trafficking.

The sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud, or coercion

Sex trafficking is defined by federal law under Title 18 U.S. Code § 1591. This law applies to conduct that is in or affects interstate or foreign commerce

Violators include anyone who:

  • Knowingly recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, obtains, advertises, maintains, patronizes, or solicits by any means or
  • Benefits financially from such conduct through the use of force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion

The conduct must:

  • Cause a person to engage in a commercial sex act or
  • Causes someone (regardless of force or other acts) who is under the age of 18 to engage in a commercial sex act.

The federal sex trafficking law applies to anyone who in interstate or foreign commerce (or special maritime or territories) “recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, obtains, advertises, maintains, patronizes, or solicits by any means a person.”

The law also applies to anyone who “benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture which has engaged in an act described in violation of” the above paragraph, provided certain conditions are met.

A commercial sex act is “any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.” Forced prostitution is a common form of sex trafficking.

The term “coercion” means—

  • Threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person;
  • Any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or
  • The abuse or threatened abuse of law or the legal process.

If convicted, defendants will likely be ordered to serve lengthy prison sentences.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)

The TVPA and its subsequent reauthorizations recognize and define two primary forms of human trafficking – sex trafficking and forced labor.

According to the Human Trafficking Hotline, the TVPA addresses “existing gaps in the legal framework by creating new criminal offenses and establishing victim protections. The law creates a three-pronged approach of prevention, protection, and prosecution.”

California has its own laws on the sexual exploitation of children, including:

  • California recently enacted a sex trafficking law that makes the trafficking of a minor for purposes of a commercial sex act a serious felony.
  • The passage of Senate Bill (SB) 1322 (passed in 2016) provides that children/youth under 18 cannot be charged with crimes involving soliciting or engaging in prostitution.
  • Child pornography laws
  • Many different sex crimes
  • Other laws

How pervasive is sex trafficking in California?

World Population Review states that California reported 1,334 cases of human trafficking in 2020.

According to the State of California, California consistently ranks number one in the nation in the number of human trafficking cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Human trafficking is among the world's fastest-growing criminal enterprises and is estimated to be a $150 billion-a-year global industry. It is a form of modern-day slavery that profits from the exploitation of our most vulnerable populations.

Children as young as 11 and 12 years old are exploited by traffickers who force them to sell their bodies for the trafficker’s financial gain. Trafficking victims are frequently forced to have sex with upwards of 15 strangers a day or face beatings at the hands of their traffickers

Every 30 seconds someone becomes a victim of human trafficking. In 2021, 57 percent of human trafficking victims were minors.

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) defines human trafficking as a crime that “involves compelling or coercing a person to provide labor or services, or to engage in commercial sex acts.” Coercion can take many forms, including violence, debt bondage, threats, and lies. If a minor is involved, then engagement in sexual acts is considered sex trafficking – even if coercion is not involved.

Sex trafficking victims generally involve poor people, immigrants, runaways, children in foster care, and people who have a previous history of domestic violence or sexual abuse.

According to a USA Today study:

  • Most, but not all, of the victims of sex trafficking are female. However, there are male and transgender exceptions.
  • One in seven runaways is a sex trafficking victim.
  • Girls in foster care are especially vulnerable.
  • The worldwide profits from forced sexual trafficking are estimated at $99 billion.
  • Approximately 9,000 massage parlors in the United States are involved in sex trafficking.

Victims are being unfairly charged for sex crimes they were forced to commit. The fear of sweeping victims of sex crimes into the prosecution’s net is a major concern, as expressed in a 2019 article in LAist.

What are the signs of sex trafficking?

The US Department of State lists the following red flags that someone may be a victim of human trafficking which includes sex trafficking.

  • The person lives with their employer
  • There are multiple people in cramped spaces
  • Their answers to questions appear rehearsed or scripted
  • They don’t speak to people without someone else being present
  • Poor living conditions
  • Their employer is in possession of their identity documents
  • The person is fearful or submissive
  • The person is paid very little – or not at all
  • They’re under 18 and involved in prostitution

Other red flags, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, include:

  • Working in industries where “it may be common to be pressured into performing sex acts for money, such as a strip club, illicit cantina, go-go bar, or illicit massage business.”
  • “Are children who live with or are dependent on a family member with a substance use problem or who is abusive.
  • Have a “pimp” or a manager in the commercial sex industry.

Who is liable in Los Angeles sex trafficking cases?

Sex trafficking organizers often include family members, smugglers, gangs, pimps, and other organizations.

In many cases where coercion was used or a minor was involved, the individuals and organizations that caused this reprehensible conduct first face criminal court. The criminal case normally is tried first for several reasons:

  • The need to stop the illegal conduct.
  • The need to punish the wrongdoers.
  • The need to deter sex trafficking by other organizations.
  • The standard of proof is stronger in a criminal case than in a civil case. In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove its claim beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, the victim must prove their claim through a preponderance of evidence.

In the civil case, our Los Angeles sex trafficking lawyers fight to introduce the conviction itself into evidence. We also work to introduce the same or similar evidence (police and witness testimony, police, and medical records) and other relevant information in the civil claim.

However, even if the defendant is cleared of criminal charges, a victim is still eligible to make a civil claim. Our Los Angeles sexual assault attorneys can provide compassionate and strong guidance in this process.

Can California’s hotels and motels be held liable for sex trafficking?

A new and developing area of law in civil sex trafficking cases is investigating the role of hotels and motels in sex and human trafficking.

Hotels and motels have a duty to their guests to protect them from sexual assault and violent crimes. Some of the legal reasons why hotels and motels may be liable for sexual assaults include negligent security and breach of contract. Hotels and motels are often used by sex traffickers because of their relative anonymity, a place to have sex, and the general lack of training of the people who work in hotels and motels to identify sex trafficking victims.

Hotels and motels may be civilly liable to the victims of sex trafficking under the TVPA which provides that hotels and motels (and their management, owners, and staff) liable as a form of premises liability for ignoring the signs of sex trafficking. The TVPA was subsequently changed And renamed as the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA),

Sex trafficking claims against Motel 6

The TVPRA provides that civil liability claims can be filed under the theory of “direct beneficial liability” which, according to a recent California case requires showing that the hotel chains who are not themselves subject to criminal liability “knowingly benefitted from participation in a venture that they knew or should have known was committing an offense” at their locations.

In that case, a federal judge ruled that “G6 Hospitality, the management company for the Studio 6 and Motel 6 hotel chains,” is required to defend claims that “it was complicit in sex trafficking at a hotel location in California.”

The plaintiff in the case claimed that she was a sex trafficking victim at five California hotels between 2012 and 2016. She claims that “she was beaten and sexually abused at these hotel chains, that it was ‘open and obvious,’ and that staff knew about it but did not do anything to stop it.” Her complaint states that a “daily parade” of unregistered guests and buyers were allowed to enter the hotels and abuse her.

The named defendants, in addition to G6, included Hilton Hotels, Choice Hotels, and Marriott. The hotels sought to dismiss the complaint because they claimed they had no knowledge of the sex trafficking. The judge found that while the plaintiff/victim didn’t prove that the Hilton, Choice, and Marriot motel locations were complicit in her trafficking, the TVPRA gave her standing to seek damages against G6 Hospitality “because she claims the manager of a G6 hotel in Concord personally participated in her trafficking.”

What damages can sex trafficking victims claim?

Civil cases are meant to compensate the victim for their physical pain, the emotional pain and suffering they endure, and any related loss of income. Generally, victims in sex trafficking cases also file a claim for punitive damages to punish the wrongdoers for their conduct.

We work with psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, and medical professionals trained to help victims of any type of sexual crime get the help they need. We work with these medical care providers to testify in court and prepare medical reports and documentation – to verify how traumatic, disabling, and horrendous sex crimes such as sex trafficking are. Many victims of sex crimes live with a lifetime of fear, anxiety, and depression.

Additionally, many of these victims are minors. Vulnerable victims may need to have a parent or a legal guardian represent them, requiring experienced legal counsel, as many may not have guardians or adults they can trust.

Do you have a Los Angeles sex trafficking lawyer near me?

At Taylor & Ring, our Los Angeles sex trafficking lawyers meet clients at our office located at 12424 Wilshire Blvd on the ninth floor. We do meet clients at their homes, healthcare facilities, and other locations if they are too physically injured or emotionally upset to come to our office. We’ll answer all your questions and guide you through each step of the claims process. We also have a Manhattan Beach office.

Speak with an experienced Los Angeles sex trafficking attorney as soon as you can

If you or anyone you know is a victim of sex trafficking, we are ready to help. At Taylor & Ring, our Los Angeles sexual assault lawyers are especially sensitive to the nature of sex crimes. We work to address your emotional and physical injuries by connecting you with trained professionals and by holding wrongdoers accountable.

You can trust Taylor & Ring to fight for your dignity and your right to continue your life with confidence. We are experienced trial lawyers with a strong reputation for holding those who commit or allow criminal offenses to be held responsible. To arrange a consultation with a caring but strong personal injury lawyer, call us or fill out our contact form.

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