Severe Penalties for Human Trafficking (CA Penal Code 236.1)

A woman calling herself ‘Victoria’ recently gave an interview on a local news channel concerning her experiences in an abusive relationship, one in which she considered herself enslaved.  This sort of story reminds us that human trafficking is a huge problem in the Sacramento area, especially considering that traffickers pass directly through the city on their way from San Francisco, through Tahoe and Seattle, then back to Los Angeles.  What many people do not realize about human trafficking is that this term does not simply refer to the practice of individual persons being sold into slavery against their will. Human trafficking could also include physically and psychologically abusive relationships, ones in which the bonds that hold people chained are invisible.

In California law, ‘human trafficking’ could be defined as the purposeful deprivation of an individual’s liberty.  This could mean depriving another person of their freedom in order to keep them working or providing services or, as many people know, depriving another of their freedom for any sexual purpose (CA Penal Code 236.1).

Penalties for human trafficking are severe in this state.  In the main, this is due to the 2012 Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act (Prop 35), which enacted harsher penalties for anyone who violates CA PC 236.1.  Never a misdemeanor, human trafficking is always considered a California felony.  An individual convicted of human trafficking violations could end up facing up to 12 years in state prison and a $500,000 fine.