Prostitution or solicitation of prostitution is unlike many other crimes. In many cases, the police consider these cases “quality of life” matters, in that the only true victim is society. On the other hand, there are, of course, cases where young men and women are brought to this country illegally and forced to work as prostitutes. This is known as human trafficking, and there are obviously real victims in these cases.
However, police tend to group all incidents of prostitution into the category of human trafficking, even when such a connection does not really exist, because it is easier to get public support, state and federal funds, and the attention of news media when dealing with incidents of human trafficking.
According to a recent story from the Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery police are on the alert for sex trafficking, and local police intend to step up their enforcement efforts with regard to alleged human trafficking offenses. Authorities say they received a call from very concerned out-of-state parents who had reason to believe their child was being held in a local motel. They learned of her whereabouts when their daughter managed to call them from the motel.
When police arrived at the motel, they found two underage girls, along with a 27-year-old man, whom they charged with first degree human trafficking. Authorities say, early in the course of their interviews with alleged victims, they became convinced these young women were being held against their wills and forced to perform sex acts. Police said it was rare for them to make an arrest for human trafficking, because most people who allegedly engage in human trafficking do not stay in one place long enough to get caught. Instead, they move around the country from city to city and leave before authorities become aware of their presence.
As our Birmingham human trafficking defense attorneys can explain, our state has made somewhat recent efforts to strengthen the law and penalties in this area. While far from being the first state in the union to adopt a human trafficking law (actually the 44th), in 2010 our legislature created such a statute, and the governor signed it into law. Prior to the creation of this state law, all human trafficking crimes occurring in Alabama, were prosecuted in federal court.
This relatively recent law is considered one of the strictest in the nation, though many in the state are still fighting to enhance the maximum penalty. Pursuant to the current law, specifically section 13A-6-152 of the Alabama Code, any person convicted of human trafficking in the first degree shall be sentenced for a Class A felony. A Class A felony is punishable by a minimum of 10 years in state prison and a maximum of not more than life or 99 years. A first degree human trafficking charge involves forcing a person into labor servitude or sexual servitude, or obtaining a minor to engage in sexual servitude.
A second-degree human trafficking offense involves deriving any money or value from a person in labor servitude or sexual servitude or recruiting a person who is not a minor.