We often hear about labor trafficking in the news and what a problem it is. But what is labor trafficking? Until recently, labor trafficking was an infrequently charged offense, with Hennepin County’s first successful labor trafficking prosecution occurring in just 2020.
Under Minnesota Statute § 609.281.5, both the act of labor trafficking and profiting off labor trafficking are crimes if you know or have reason to know that the profit is from labor trafficking. Labor trafficking includes the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, enticement, provision, obtaining, or receipt of a person for one of the following purposes:
- Debt bondage or forced labor or services;
- Slavery or practices similar to slavery; or
- The removal of organs through the use of coercion or intimidation.
Minnesota Statute § 609.282 criminalizes labor trafficking. If the victim is under 18, the defendant may be sentenced to not more that 20 years imprisonment or to payment of a fine of not more than $40,000, or both. If the victim is 18 or older, the defendant may be sentenced to not more than 15 years or to payment of a fine of not more than $30,000, or both.
It is also worth noting that in Minnesota, there is no statute of limitations if the alleged victim is under the age of 18. However, if the alleged victim is over 18, the limitations period is six years, meaning the person must be charged within six years after the commission of the offense.
Consent or the age of the victim are not defenses to labor trafficking. This means that proving that the alleged victim consented to the labor trafficking or that the alleged victim was over 18 does not negate guilt in a labor trafficking case. However, there is an intent element to labor trafficking, which means that the defendant must be aware that they are engaging in or profiting from labor trafficking.
If you are facing a charge of labor trafficking, contact a criminal defense attorney for help.