However, our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers know that the state of Florida, and the federal government as well, has begun taking these crimes more seriously, going so far as to label some cases sex trafficking.
FL Statute 787.06 defines human trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery in which alleged victims are subjected to coercion, fraud or force for the purpose of either forced labor or sexual exploitation. Human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. If, however, that victim is under the age of 18, it becomes a life felony. If the victim is under the age of 15, it’s also a life felony, but the state has less of a burden to prove that the defendant knew of the victim’s young age.
The recent sex trafficking case out of Broward was actually handled in federal, U.S. District Court.
The defendant was convicted of enticing a 16-year-old girl from South Florida to participate in prostitution.
According to court records, the girl had worked as a prostitute for the defendant for a handful of months last year. He had reportedly sent her a message on a social networking site, asking if she wanted to work for him and offering her as much as $3,500 weekly.
It’s not clear how the two knew each other before, but she agreed to his offer and he began to set her up with “dates.” He took pictures of the girl naked and in other provocative poses, which he then posted on escort service sites. From there, he would arrange for the girl to meet dates in a local motel off the main highway in Hollywood. She was charging clients between $80 and $180 a session. The defendant then took all of the girl’s money at the end of the day, returning to her a cut of 40 percent.
The girl said she told him she was 16, but he ordered her to tell everyone else that she was actually 18.
Then in October of last year, the girl was arrested for an undisclosed crime. She was ordered to spend time at a residential center for juveniles, located in Pembroke Pines. Upon her release, she reportedly received another message from the defendant, asking her to return to work for him.
It was then that she went to authorities. The Federal Bureau of Investigations got involved, and recorded subsequent phone conversations in which the defendant offered the girl a raise in order to continue working for him.
The 32-year-old defendant has entered a plea of guilty to a single charge of sex trafficking of a minor. His sentencing is scheduled for early next year, and he faces a minimum of 10 years in federal prison.
These are not crimes you can take lightly – whether you are the sex worker or the one accused of facilitating the work. Call us today to learn more about how we can defend your rights.
If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.
Hollywood man pleads guilty to recruiting teen prostitute on Facebook, Nov. 27, 2012, By Paula McMahon, Sun Sentinel
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