Human trafficking charges are incredibly serious.  Contact a top criminal defense attorney immediately: (414) 270-0202

As you’re already aware, human trafficking is a serious crime in Wisconsin.  Depending upon the circumstances, this crime is a a Class D or Class F felony.  A Class D felony carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and $100,000.00 in fines.  A Class F felony carries a maximum penalty of 12.5 years in prison and $25,000.00 in fines.  Obviously these are significant penalties, and they indicate just how seriously prosecutors consider these offenses.

The human trafficking defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office aggressively fight all sexual and other criminal charges.  Importantly, defending criminal charges is all we do.  We don’t represent anyone in any kind of civil law case.  And the reason for that is simple: it doesn’t help achieve a better result in criminal cases.

At Van Severen Law Office we recognize that you’re going through a difficult time.  The best way to fight your criminal charges are with the assistance of a top criminal defense attorney.  Let’s start fighting your case.  Contact us at (414) 270-0202 and let’s schedule an initial consultation.

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What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking refers to using another human to commit commercial sex acts or other services.  The method by which traffickers depends on the case, and includes a long list of various methods of control.  Section 940.302(2)(a) of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits human trafficking, in the Class D felony version of the offense:

“… whoever knowingly engages in trafficking is guilty of a Class D felony if all of the following apply:
1. One of the following applies:
a. The trafficking is for the purposes of labor or services.

b. The trafficking is for the purposes of a commercial sex act.

2. The trafficking is done by any of the following:
a. Causing or threatening to cause bodily harm to any individual.
b. Causing or threatening to cause financial harm to any individual.
c. Restraining or threatening to restrain any individual.
d. Violating or threatening to violate a law.
e. Destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating, or possessing, or threatening to destroy, conceal, remove, confiscate, or possess, any actual or purported passport or any other actual or purported official identification document of any individual.
f. Extortion.
g. Fraud or deception.
h. Debt bondage.
i. Controlling or threatening to control any individual’s access to an addictive controlled substance.
j. Using any scheme, pattern, or other means to directly or indirectly coerce, threaten, or intimidate any individual.
k. Using or threatening to use force or violence on any individual.
L. Causing or threatening to cause any individual to do any act against the individual’s will or without the individual’s consent.”

What are the elements of this offense?

All criminal offenses in Wisconsin have elements.  An element is a part of the offense.  And an element must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.  Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1276 describes human trafficking:
  • Firstly, the defendant engaged in trafficking; and
  • Secondly, the defendant trafficked the victim for the purpose of labor or services, or a commercial sex act; and
  • Finally, the defendant engaged in the trafficking using one of the methods described in Section 940.302(2)(a) of the Wisconsin Statutes.

“Trafficking” means that the defendant recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, or attempted to do one of these things to the victim.

“Services” means activities performed by one individual at the request, under the supervision, or for the benefit of another person.

“Commercial sex act” means sexual contact, sexual intercourse, sexually explicit performance, any conduct done for the purpose of sexual humiliation, degradation, arousal, or gratification, for which anything of value is given to, promised, or received, directly or indirectly, by any person.

An example of the offense

Under this definition of human trafficking we must satisfy all elements of the offense in the example.  Therefore, let’s imagine this defendant. The defendant transported a victim in his car to a location in Milwaukee, WI.  The defendant transported the victim to Milwaukee for the purpose of having sex with another individual.  The individual agreed to pay the defendant money.  Finally, the defendant threatened to punch the victim if she did not participate in the transportation.

Because this definition satisfies all elements, this example is considered human trafficking.  Importantly, human trafficking cannot occur if the defendant simply requests the victim come along to Milwaukee to have sex with the other individual.  This certainly isn’t human trafficking.  Finally, instead, prosecutors would likely charge something like pandering or soliciting a person to commit prostitution.

A victim of human trafficking
Human trafficking is a serious felony in Wisconsin. If you’re facing any kind of criminal allegation, contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. immediately.  We offer free consultations.  (414) 270-0202

What about the other human trafficking law?

Firstly, there are three different human trafficking laws in Wisconsin.  Section 940.302(2)(b) of the Wisconsin Statutes provides another version of the offense:

(b) Whoever benefits in any manner from a violation of par. (a) is guilty of a Class D felony if the person knows or reasonably should have known that the benefits come from or are derived from an act or scheme described in par. (a).
Unfortunately there are no jury instructions for this statute, but the law is clear.  To be charged under this subsection, certainly the defendant must 1) benefit from the trafficking and 2) know the benefits he’s receiving are from a human trafficking scheme.
This charge is also a Class D felony.

Finally, the third version of human trafficking

Section 940.302(2)(c) of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits another kind of human trafficking.  This offense is the lowest level.  It’s a Class F felony:

Whoever knowingly receives compensation from the earnings of debt bondage, a prostitute, or a commercial sex act, as described in sub. (1) (a) 1. and 2., is guilty of a Class F felony.

Secondly, Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1277 provides the elements of this offense:

  • Firstly, the defendant received compensation from the earnings of debt bondage, a prostitute, or a commercial sex act; and
  • Secondly, the defendant received compensation knowingly.  This requires that the defendant knew that the compensation was from the earnings of debt bondage, a prostitute, or a commercial sex act.

How do we win my case?

First of all, every case is different.  So the strategy we might use on another case might not be applicable to yours.

While sting operations aren’t frequently used when we consider pimping charges, it’s still possible.  In that case, we’d want to first check to see if entrapment is a possible defense to the charge.  While entrapment isn’t a commonly used defense, sometimes it applies to human trafficking cases.  Certainly if the government applied any illegal or unfair pressure, we’d look into moving for dismissal of your case based upon that violation.

Secondly, we’d want to look at all the other evidence against you and check into other pre-trial motions.  For example, we might file a motion challenging the use of your statement at trial.

Why hire Van Severen Law Office to defend my human trafficking case?

To a certain extent, this answer is easy.  We’re specialists.  Criminal defense is certainly all we do. And secondly, we focus a lot of our efforts on defending serious charges like homicide and sexual assault.  Would you want a part-time pilot flying the airplane you’re about to board?  We sure wouldn’t.  And it’s for that reason we don’t split our time focusing on other areas of law.  Our 100% focus on criminal defense certainly works in your favor.

Human trafficking charges are certainly serious.  The cases involving a large number of alleged victims usually end up on the local media.  And while media pressure certainly doesn’t matter to us, it could negatively impact your relationships with friends, family, and co-workers.  Our criminal defense attorneys are some of the best in Wisconsin.  We’re the allies that you need while fighting a case like this.

We answer phones 24/7.  Call us at (414) 270-0202, and let’s start fighting your case.

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