Human trafficking has been a criminal offense in New Jersey since 2005, but last year the grounds for a human trafficking charge were expanded. Before, if a defendant was to be convicted of human trafficking, the prosecution had to show evidence that the defendant exploited another person by using threats, coercion, physical restraints or physical harm.

Authorities may also bring a human trafficking charge if the defendant is believed to have taken or destroyed another person’s proof of identification in order to control that person.

Amendments in 2013 expanded the kinds of evidence prosecutors can use in bringing human trafficking charges. In particular, evidence related to fraud and drug crimes may now be used in human trafficking cases. A Sicklerville man is one of the first New Jersey residents to be accused of first-degree human trafficking under the amended law.

Police in Gloucester Township reportedly worked undercover to carry out a sting operation at a Howard Johnson’s hotel. Eight people were arrested, and police treated two women as victims and not as suspects.

Several other women were charged with prostitution, however, and several men were arrested for allegedly promoting prostitution. The Sicklerville man and a woman from Pennsylvania were the only individuals accused of first-degree human trafficking. New Jersey law calls for a minimum prison sentence of 20 years for a person convicted of human trafficking in the first degree.

Authorities have announced a crackdown on human trafficking in New Jersey, and people who have been accused of this sort of crime can expect the charge to be aggressively prosecuted. It should also be remembered that sweeping police efforts don’t always lead to appropriate and provable charges.

If you’ve been charged with prostitution, contact our Atlantic City criminal attorneys today.

Source: Gloucester Township Patch, “Sicklerville Man Charged With First Degree Human Trafficking,” Anthony Bellano, Jan. 30, 2014