In 2015, the Illinois’ Cook County Sheriff’s Department launched a nationwide sex-trafficking string operation that comprised of 70 jurisdictions in 17 states, including Illinois, Arizona, and Nevada. This year’s installment is the largest thus far since the operation first started in 2011.
At the beginning of the month, operation officials arrested 570 sex buyers and 23 sex traffickers around the country.Click To Tweet Officials also recovered 54 women and 14 juvenile sex-trafficking victims nationwide, taking them into custody mental with health, drug abuse, and domestic abuse rehabilitation services.
Many of these sex-trafficking and involuntary servitude crimes were discovered on classified ad sites such as Backpage.com and Craigslist. Sex traffickers and pimps often use such sites to advertise sexual services, and reports have found that thousands of victims are sold into sexual slavery on online outlets each month.
“Sex trafficking continues to destroy countless lives, and this broad national movement should send a strong message to prospective johns that their ‘hobby’ is much more than a ‘victimless’ crime,” Cook County Sherriff Tom Dart explained to reporters from The Huffington Post.
Human Trafficking and Involuntary Servitude in Illinois
As the problem of human-trafficking and involuntary servitude crimes gain nationwide attention, Illinois is cracking down on offenders of these types of crimes. Law enforcement officials are focusing much of their attention on sites like Backpage and Craigslist, using these websites to monitor human trafficking and involuntary servitude in Illinois. In 2005, our state passed one of the strictest laws on human trafficking in the country—the Trafficking of Persons and Involuntary Servitude Act of Illinois—which places severe penalties on those accused to this crime and tends to favor the side of protecting presumed victims.
In Illinois, there are a variety of different ways you can be charged with involuntary servitude or human trafficking. These types of charges typically fall under three different categories:
Involuntary servitude. Involuntary servitude occurs when someone uses physical harm, threats, or other forms of abuse to coerce another person to perform labor or services.
Involuntary sexual servitude of a minor. When someone coerces or forces a minor into commercial sexual activity, this may constitute involuntary servitude of a minor.
Trafficking in persons for forced labor or services. If you knowingly participate or profit from a business venture that involves involuntary servitude, you could be found guilty of trafficking in persons for forced labor or services.
Many different types of behaviors can fall under the umbrella of these three categories. Some of the behaviors that could land you with an involuntary servitude or human trafficking charges include:
- Using a site such as Backpage or Craigslist to request sexual services
- Using a site such as Backpage or Craigslist to advertise sexual services
- Involving minors in commercial sexual acts
- Using threats or physical harm to coerce a domestic worker to engage in sexual activity
- Exploiting an employee or worker who has been made vulnerable by poverty, political conflict, or crime
- Forcing another person to work to pay off their debt
- Associating or profiting from a trafficking crime
Facing an Involuntary Servitude or Human Trafficking Charge in Illinois
As our state tries to combat our grave human trafficking problem, it’s doling out serious penalties to those found guilty of human trafficking or involuntary servitude crimes. If you are charged with this type of crime, you are in a tight spot. In these types of cases, the law tends to err towards protecting the rights of the alleged victims. The odds of conviction are great, regardless of whether or not you committed the crime. That means if an unhappy employee or jealous ex-partner decides to falsely accuse you of this type of crime, you could go to prison for a long time. If you use sites like Backpage and Craigslist to meet someone, you could be charged with sex trafficking even if you weren’t aware that you were arranging to meet a prostitute.
If you have been charged with involuntary servitude or human trafficking in Illinois, it’s highly advisable to seek legal representation from a top criminal defense lawyer with experience in defending these types of crimes. You are being charged with a serious crime with serious penalties, and it is unwise to try to fight it alone. You need a seasoned lawyer in your corner, a skilled and aggressive attorney who understands the criminal justice system and the unique nuances of this type of crime. With the help of a knowledgeable criminal lawyer, you can work to ensure the best possible outcome for your case and keep this charge from impacting your freedom and future.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, Murder, and drug crimes.