Sex Trafficking is a serious crime in Nevada. The legalization of prostitution in certain parts of the state has made sex trafficking a dangerous reality. Convictions for sex trafficking are severe and include jail time and harsh fines.
What is the legal definition of Sex Trafficking?
Sex Trafficking is governed by NRS 201.295, 201.300, 201.305, 201.325, 201.345, 201.350, 201.351, 201.352.
NRS 201.295 – Definitions.
As used in NRS 201.295 to 201.440, inclusive, unless the context otherwise requires:
- “Adult” means a person 18 years of age or older.
- “Child” means a person less than 18 years of age.
- “Induce” means to persuade, encourage, inveigle or entice.
- “Prostitute” means a male or female person who for a fee, monetary consideration or other thing of value engages in sexual intercourse, oral-genital contact or any touching of the sexual organs or other intimate parts of a person for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of either person.
- “Prostitution” means engaging in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee, monetary consideration or other thing of value.
- “Sexual conduct” means any of the acts enumerated in subsection 4.
- “Transports” means to transport or cause to be transported, by any means of conveyance, into, through or across this State, or to aid or assist in obtaining such transportation.
NRS 201.300 – Pandering and sex trafficking: Definitions; penalties; exception.
- A person who without physical force or the immediate threat of physical force, induces an adult to unlawfully become a prostitute or to continue to engage in prostitution, or to enter ay place within this State in which prostitution is practice, encouraged or allowed for the purpose of sexual conduct or prostitution is guilty of pandering which is a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130. This subsection does not apply to the customer of a prostitute.
- A person:
- Is guilty of sex trafficking if the person:
- Induces, causes, recruits, harbors, transports, provides, obtains or maintains a child to engage in prostitution, or to enter any place within this State in which prostitution is practiced, encouraged or allowed for the purpose of sexual conduct or prostitution;
- Induce, recruits, harbors, transports, provides, obtains or maintains a person by any means, knowing, or in reckless disregard of the fact, that threats, violence, force, intimidation, fraud, duress or coercion will be used to cause the person to engage in prostitution, or to enter any place within this State in which prostitution is practiced, encouraged or allowed for the purpose of sexual conduct or prostitution;
- By threats, violence, force, intimidation, fraud, duress, coercion, by any device or scheme, or by abuse of any position or confidence or authority, or having legal charge, takes, places, harbors, induces, causes compels or procures a person to engage in prostitution, or to enter any place within this State in which prostitution is practiced, encouraged or allowed for the purpose of sexual conduct or prostitution; or
- Takes or detains a person with the intent to compel the person by force, violence, threats or duress to marry him or her or any other person.
- Who is found guilty of sex trafficking:
- An adult is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 3 years and maximum term of not more than 10 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000.
- A child:
- If the child is less than 14 years of age when the offense is committed, is guilty of a category A felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life with the possibility of parole, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 15 years has been served, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $20,000.
- If the child is at least 14 years of age but less than 16 years of age when the offense is committed, is guilty of a category A felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life with the possibility of parole beginning when a minimum of 10 years has been served, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000.
- If the child is at least 16 years of age but less than 18 years of age when the offense is committed, is guilty of a category A felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life with the possibility of parole, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 5 years has been served, and may be further punished further by a fine of not more than $10,000.
- Is guilty of sex trafficking if the person:
- A court shall not grant probation to or suspend the sentence of a person convicted of sex trafficking a child pursuant to subsection 2.
- Consent of a victim of pandering or sex trafficking to an act of prostitution is not a defense to a prosecution for any of the acts prohibited by this section.
- In a prosecution for sex trafficking a child pursuant to subsection 2, it is not a defense that the defendant did not have knowledge of the victim’s age, nor is reasonable mistake of age a valid defense to a prosecution conducted pursuant to subsection 2.
NRS 201.305 – Prostitution subculture as admissible evidence for certain purposes.
In a prosecution for pandering or sex trafficking pursuant to NRS 201.300, expert testimony concerning:
- The prostitution subculture, including, without limitation, the effect of physical, emotional or mental abuse on the beliefs, behavior and perception of the alleged victim of the pandering or sex trafficking that is offered by the prosecution or defense is admissible for any relevant purpose, including, without limitation, to demonstrate:
- The dynamics of, and the manipulation and psychological control measures used in, the relationship between a prostitute and a person who engages in pandering or sex trafficking in violation of NRS 201.300; and
- The normal behavior and language used in the prostitution subculture.
- The effect of pandering or sex trafficking may not be offered against a defendant pursuant to subsection 1 to prove the occurrence of an act which forms the basis of a criminal charge against the defendant.
NRS 201.325 – Power of court to order restitution.
- In addition to any other penalty, the court may order a person convicted of a violation of any provision of NRS 201.300 or 201.320 to pay restitution to the victim as provided in subsection 2.
- Restitution ordered pursuant to this section may include, without limitation:
- The cost of medical and psychological treatment, including, without limitation, physical and occupational therapy and rehabilitation;
- The cost of transportation, temporary housing and child care;
- The return of property, the cost of repairing damaged property or the full value of the property if it is destroyed or damaged beyond repair;
- Expenses incurred by a victim in relocating away from the defendant or his or her associates, if the expenses are verified by law enforcement to be necessary for the personal safety of the victim;
- The cost of repatriation of the victim to his or her home country, if applicable; and
- Any and all other losses suffered by the victim as a result of the violation of any provision of NRS 201.300 or 201.320.
- The return of the victim to his or her home country or other absence of the victim from the jurisdiction does not prevent the victim from receiving restitution.
- As used in this section, “victim” means any person:
- Against whom a violation of any provision of NRS 201.300 or 201. 320 has been committed; or
- Who is the surviving child or such a person.
NRS 201.345 – Attorney General has concurrent jurisdiction with district attorneys.
- The attorney General has concurrent jurisdiction with the district attorneys of the counties in this State to prosecute any violation of NRS 201.300 or 201.320..
- When acting pursuant to this section, the Attorney General may commence an investigation and file a criminal action without leave of court and the Attorney General has exclusive charge of the conduct of the prosecution.
NRS 201.350 – Venue.
It shall not be a defense to a prosecution for any of the acts prohibited in NRS 201.300 or 201. 320 that any part of such act or acts shall have been committed outside this state, and the offense shall in such case be deemed and alleged to have been committed, and the offender tried and punished, in any county in which the prostitution was consummated, or any overt act in furtherance of the offense shall have been committed.
NRS 201.351 – Forfeiture of assets; temporary restraining order to preserve property subject to forfeiture; use of proceeds derived from forfeiture.
- All assets derived from or relating to any violation of NRS 201.300 or 201.320 are subject to forfeiture pursuant to NRS 179.121 and a proceeding for their forfeiture may be brought pursuant to NRS 179.1156 to 179.121, inclusive.
- In any proceeding for forfeiture brought pursuant to NRS 179.1156 to 179.121, inclusive, the plaintiff may apply for, and a court may issue without notice or hearing, a temporary restraining order to preserve property which would be subject to forfeiture pursuant to this section if:
- The forfeitable property is in the possession or control of the party against who the order will be entered; and
- The court determines that the nature of the property is such that it can be concealed, disposed of or placed beyond the jurisdiction of the court before a hearing on the matter.
- A temporary restraining order which is issued without notice may be issued for not more than 30 days and may be extended only for good cause or by consent. The court shall provide notice and hold a hearing on the matter before the order expires.
- Any proceeds derived from a forfeiture or property pursuant to this section and remaining after the distribution required by subsection 1 of NRS 179.1118 must be deposited with the county treasurer and distributed to programs for the prevention of child prostitution or for services to victims which are designated to receive such distributions by the district attorney of the county.
NRS 201.352 –Additional fine for certain violations.
- If a person is convicted of a violation of subsection 2 of NRS 201.300 or NRS 201.320, the victim of the violation is a child when the offense is committed and physical force or violence or the immediate threat of physical force or violence is used upon the child, the court may, in addition to the term of imprisonment prescribed by statute for the offense and any fine imposed pursuant to subsection 2, impose a fine of not more than $500,000.
- If a person is convicted of a violation of subsection 2 of NRS 201.300 or NRS 201.320, the victim of the offense is a child when the offense is committed and the offense also involves a conspiracy to commit a violation of subsection 2 of NRS 201.300 or NRS.320, the court may, in addition to the punishment prescribed by statute for the offense of a provision of subsection 2 of NRS 201.300 or NRS 201.320 and any fine imposed pursuant to subsection 1, impose a fine of not more than $500,000.
- The provisions of subsections 1 and 2 do not create a separate offense but provide an additional penalty for the primary offense, the imposition of which is contingent upon the finding of the prescribed fact.
Isn’t sex trafficking where someone brings someone from another country and forces them to be a prostitute?
That is one form of sex trafficking, yes, but it is not the only. Nor is it the most common. The actual definition of sex trafficking in Nevada includes anyone who forces, convinces, or induces another person to become a prostitute.
Sex trafficking has become an increasingly important issue to the Nevada Legislature, so much so that it is overtaking, and encompassing the crime known as “pandering” (commonly called “pimping”).
Okay, so then, what is sex trafficking?
Sex trafficking is causing another person to engage in prostitution, using:
- Physical force or violence;
- Threats of physical force or violence;
- Inducing or convincing a person to engage in prostitution;
- Recruiting someone for the purpose someone else forcing or convincing them to engage in prostitution;
- Transporting someone to a location while knowing that they will engage in prostitution once there;
- Transporting someone while knowing they will be forced to engage in prostitution once there;
Sex Trafficking, then, is inducing someone else to engage in prostitution, regardless of the manner, and includes transportation of another person with the intent or knowledge that they will engage in prostitution.
Is there anything else I should know?
Investigation of sext trafficking is difficult for law enforcement because of the nature of the crime. However, if law enforcement officers believe that sex trafficking is taking place, they can appeal to the court for permission to set up a wiretap and can use anything gained from such a wiretap as evidence in a subsequent trial.
Also, conspiring to commit sex trafficking is not an included crime. If two or more people conspire to commit sex trafficking, they can be tried for their conspiracy as a separate crime. If they actually commit the sex trafficking, then they can be tried for both crimes and receive separate sentences which can run concurrently (at the same time) or consecutively (one after the other), depending on the court’s decision.
What are the possible penalties?
The penalties for sex trafficking depend on the age of the victim.
If the victim is an adult, 18 years of age or older, the crime will be charged as a category B felony, which carries possible penalties of:
- Between 3 and 10 years in a Nevada State Prison; and
- Possible fines up to $10,000.
If the victim is a minor, 16 or 17 years old, the crime will be charges as a category A felony, and will carry possible penalties of:
- Life, in a Nevada State Prison, with possibility of parole after 5 years; and
- Possible fines up to $10,000.
If the victim is a minor, 14 or 15 years old, the crime will be charged as a category A felony, and will carry possible penalties of:
- Life, in a Nevada State Prison, with possibility for parole after 10 years, and
- Possible fines up to $10,000.
If the victim is a minor, 13 years old or younger, the crime will be charged as a category A felony, and will carry possible penalties of:
- Life in a Nevada State Prison, with possibility for parole after 15 years; and
- Possible fines up to $20,000.
Please Note: Convictions for Sex Trafficking can carry additional penalties beyond those mentioned above:
- Conspiracy to Commit Sex Trafficking – Conspiracy to commit sex trafficking is a category B felony, which carries with it a possible sentence of:
- Between 1 and 6 years in a Nevada State Prison; and
- Possible fines up to $5,000.
- Additional fines if victim is a minor – The court may impose further fines up to $500,000 if the victim is a minor and:
- The defendant used physical force, violence, or the threat of physical force or violence; and/or
- The defendant was involved in a conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a child.
- Restitution – The court can order that a person convicted of sex trafficking must also pay restitution including;
- Medical and psychological treatment;
- Physical therapy;
- Occupational therapy to assist the person in finding a job;
- Cost of transportation, temporary housing, and child care;
- The return of property, or the cost of repair or replacing damaged property;
- Expenses incurred by a victim in relocating, as long as the costs are verified by law enforcement to be necessary for the personal safety of the victim;
- Cost of repatriation to the victim’s home country; and
- Any and all other loss that the court deems necessary.
- Forfeiture of Assets – Any assets derived from pandering are subject to forfeiture. Law enforcement must first bring a motion for forfeiture. In any proceeding or hearing on such motion, law enforcement can seek a restraining order to prohibit the concealment or disposal of the assets. If the assets are ordered forfeited, they will be distributed first to the victim to pay all necessary and required fines and restitution, and will then be distributed to programs preventing child prostitution and assisting in the recovery of victims of prostitution.
- Civil Lawsuits – If you have been charged with sex trafficking, you may also face civil lawsuits from the victim and/or their family seeking money for:
- Actual damages;
- Compensatory damages;
- Punitive damages;
- Attorney’s fees and costs; and
- Any other relief the court deems appropriate.
Please Also Note: If you have been convicted of sex trafficking, then you will be required to register as a sex offender in Nevada. Individuals convicted of trafficking adults are generally placed in Tier I, while individuals convicted of trafficking minors are placed in Tier II (assuming it is a first-time offense).
Are there any Defenses?
Yes, of course there are. In fact, Libel is an extremely vague and difficult to prove charge. Some of the possible defenses include:
- Lack of Knowledge – If you were unaware that force or threats were used to induce the victim into engaging in prostitution, then you did not violate the sex trafficking laws. One of the most common examples of this include a taxi, or other paid driver, who transports a person from one place to another but has no knowledge of what the person will be doing at their destination. This defense gets more difficult if the driver is being paid to drive the victim to a brothel, as there is reason to know that the victim will engage in prostitution once there. However, even then, there are defenses to the charges.
- No Force or Inducement – This defense generally only applies to paid drivers, or other people who help transport the alleged victim. As in the example above, if the taxi or other driver knows that the customer is headed to a brothel and will likely engage in prostitution, they may be able to show that the customer was a willing participant in the prostitution (for example, they were already a prostitute and were simply taking a taxi back to the brothel for work). If the alleged victim was not induced or forced into prostitution, then there can be no sex trafficking.
- Lack of Evidence – As with any crime, the prosecution bears the burden of proving every element of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is not enough evidence to uphold this high level of proof, then the charges should be dropped or dismissed.
What should I do if I’ve been charged with Sex trafficking?
As with any crime, it is very important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can discuss the specific circumstances as well as any defenses that may apply to your case.