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In Arizona, human trafficking is defined as knowingly transporting, harboring, providing, or obtaining another person for labor or sexual exploitation.

The penalties for being accused of human trafficking in Arizona are severe, with lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines.

For those who find themselves accused of human trafficking in Arizona, it is crucial to seek legal representation from experienced professionals such as the Law Office of Daniel Hutto. With their expertise in criminal defense, they can provide guidance and support throughout the legal process.

Here’s what this article will cover:

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Human trafficking in arizona

What is the Federal Policy on Human Trafficking?

The federal government addresses human trafficking with stringent measures, leveraging the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to impose severe penalties on those found guilty of trafficking offenses.

 Under federal law, traffickers can face significant fines and extensive prison terms, with the possibility of life imprisonment in cases involving minors or instances of aggravated sexual abuse.

The federal government typically intervenes in human trafficking cases when the activities extend across state lines or international borders, involve federal agencies, or when the trafficking operations are large-scale and affect multiple jurisdictions. 

In such situations, agencies such as the FBI, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lead the efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases, often collaborating with state and local law enforcement to ensure a comprehensive response. 

Human Trafficking Laws in Arizona

Arizona Revised Statutes, specifically ARS 13-1308, outline human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, provision, obtaining, harboring, or solicitation of a person for the purpose of commercial sex, labor, or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.

Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking in Arizona involves the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or where the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.

Victims are often manipulated or threatened into prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation. The key element in sex trafficking cases is the exploitation of the individual for commercial sex, regardless of their consent when force, fraud, or coercion is involved.

Labor Trafficking

Labor trafficking refers to the recruitment, transportation, harboring, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. Examples include forced labor in factories, farms, or domestic servitude in private homes. In these situations, victims are made to work for little or no pay, often under the threat of violence or other penalties.

Child Trafficking

Child trafficking is a particularly heinous form of trafficking where individuals under the age of 18 are exploited for sex, labor, or other purposes.

The critical distinction in child trafficking cases is that there is no requirement to prove force, fraud, or coercion when a commercial sex act involves a minor.

Any involvement of a child in commercial sex is considered trafficking, regardless of the circumstances.

Domestic Servitude

Domestic servitude, a subset of labor trafficking, involves victims being forced to work in households under conditions akin to slavery. They perform domestic chores and care-giving services for little or no wages and are not free to leave their employment. Often, victims of domestic servitude are isolated, not allowed to communicate with others, and kept under constant surveillance.

Debt Bondage

Debt bondage, another form of labor trafficking, occurs when a person is forced to work to repay a debt or loan, and the terms of the employment are not clearly defined, are unfairly changed, or in situations where the value of the work performed by the victim does not reasonably reduce the debt. This type of trafficking leverages the victim’s financial obligation to enforce their labor.

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Penalties for Human Trafficking 

In Arizona, penalties for human trafficking are determined by the nature of the offense and are outlined in the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS). These penalties are designed to reflect the severity of the crime and its impact on victims.

Types of Charges and Their Penalties

  1. Sex Trafficking (ARS 13-1308):
    • Adult Victims: Class 2 felony, punishable by a minimum sentence of 3 years up to a maximum of 12.5 years in prison for first-time offenders. If aggravating factors are present, the sentence can be extended.
    • Minor Victims: Automatically considered a more severe crime, classified as a Class 2 felony but with harsher sentencing guidelines, including longer mandatory minimum sentences and the possibility of life imprisonment depending on the circumstances and the defendant’s criminal history.
  2. Labor Trafficking:
    • Not specifically delineated under Arizona law separate from sex trafficking, but falls under the broader category of human trafficking. Offenses typically result in felony charges, with penalties depending on the severity and specifics of the case, including the use of force, fraud, or coercion.
  3. Child Trafficking:
    • Treated with the utmost severity. Any form of commercial sexual exploitation of a minor is considered a form of human trafficking and is prosecuted aggressively, often resulting in lengthy prison sentences, including life imprisonment, especially when the trafficker has prior convictions or if severe harm came to the victim.
  4. Domestic Servitude and Debt Bondage:
    • While specific statutes may vary, these are generally prosecuted under labor trafficking laws. Convictions can lead to significant prison time, fines, and restitution, mirroring penalties for other forms of labor exploitation.

Additional Penalties and Consequences

  • Fines and Financial Penalties: Can reach up to $150,000 or more, not including mandatory restitution to victims.
  • Asset Forfeiture: Assets obtained through trafficking activities may be seized.
  • Sex Offender Registration: Required for those convicted of sex trafficking, imposing long-term restrictions and public disclosure.
  • Restitution to Victims: Mandatory payment to compensate victims for their losses and suffering.

The exact penalties can vary based on factors such as the defendant’s criminal history, the presence of aggravating factors, and the specifics of the trafficking activities. 

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Defense Strategies for Human Trafficking Charges 

When facing human trafficking charges in Arizona, the stakes are exceptionally high. These charges carry severe penalties and significant social stigma.

Here are some common defense strategies that may be employed:

Lack of Knowledge

       One possible defense is arguing that the defendant did not know, and had no reasonable way of knowing, that the alleged activities constituted human trafficking. This could apply in cases where a person believed they were engaging in legitimate business activities without awareness of any exploitation.

No Intent to Commit a Crime

       Intent plays a crucial role in human trafficking cases. If the defense can demonstrate that the accused did not intend to exploit, coerce, or deceive the alleged victims, this may negate elements required for a trafficking conviction.

Mistaken Identity or False Accusations

       Defense attorneys may argue that the defendant has been wrongly identified as the perpetrator or falsely accused due to misunderstandings, vendettas, or mistaken identity. Providing alibis, witness testimonies, or surveillance footage could support this defense.

Insufficient Evidence

      A defense strategy could focus on the lack of concrete evidence tying the defendant to the trafficking activities. Trafficking charges often rely on victim testimonies, which must be thoroughly examined for consistency and reliability.


      While consent is not a defense in cases involving minors or when force, fraud, or coercion is proven, demonstrating that adult participants were acting of their own volition, without any form of coercion, can be a valid defense in specific contexts of labor trafficking.

Violation of Constitutional Rights

      If there was a violation of the defendant’s rights during the investigation, such as unlawful search and seizure, this could form the basis of a strong defense. Evidence obtained unlawly cannot be used in court, which could significantly weaken the prosecution’s case.

Coercion or Duress

     In some cases, defendants might argue that they were not the perpetrators but were instead forced into participation under threat or duress. This defense shifts the focus from their actions to the circumstances under which those actions were performed.

It’s important to note that each defense strategy should be tailored to the specific circumstances of the case, considering all available evidence and legal precedents.

Free Consultation With a Criminal Defense Attorney

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The Law Office of Daniel Hutto offers free consultations for those facing human trafficking offenses in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. As experts in criminal defense, they provide aggressive legal strategies and personalized attention to each case. If you’re dealing with charges related to human trafficking, reaching out early for legal guidance is crucial. For a free consultation and to start developing your defense, contact the Law Office of Daniel Hutto at 602 536-7878

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