The FBI recently conducted a nationwide human trafficking operation that arrested 153 alleged pimps. Five of these pimps were residents of Virginia Beach and have been charged with sex trafficking with the intent to receive money. Additional charges that some of the five faced included receiving money from minors who were involved in prostitution, aiding in prostitution, and maintaining a bawdy place. All of those charged have a criminal history and except for one, every suspect has pled guilty to the charges. The five suspects could also be charged with crimes involving fake currency, firearms, and drugs, all of which were found at the scene.
The trafficking victims in Virginia Beach were 16-17 years old and were rescued from the Econo Lodge on Northampton Boulevard. One of the sixteen year olds was able to escape from the hotel, which is what allowed for the FBI to conduct the bust.
What Constitutes Prostitution in Virginia?
According to §18.2-357 of the Virginia Code, prostitution occurs when a person receives money for committing a sexual act. The earning can be in the form of money or other valuable item such as jewelry.
What are the Penalties for Prostitution?
A person who is charged and convicted of prostitution involving a person over the age of eighteen will face a Class 4 felony, which is punishable by two to ten years in jail and a fine of up to $100,000. While a person charged and convicted with prostitution involving a person eighteen or younger will face Class 3 felony charges that may result in a prison sentence of five to twenty years and a fine not exceeding $100,000.
How Does Human Trafficking Differ from Prostitution?
The difference between what one might consider typical prostitution and human trafficking is that human trafficking involves persuading, encouraging, or forcing a person to commit an act of prostitution. A person who is a victim of human trafficking does not have the option of not performing the sexual act. Some prostitutes choose to live such a lifestyle and choose to work for a pimp.
Pimps involved in normal prostitution rings pimps involved in human trafficking rings can both face the same felony charge depending on the victims’ ages.
Do You Need Legal Help For A Recent Sex Crime Charge?
If you have recently been charged with a sex crime in Virginia, you should contact a criminal lawyer who has prepared sex crime defenses in the past. Jad Sarsour has effectively defended those charged with sex crimes and will do what he can to ensure that your constitutional rights are protected. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.