Human Trafficking in Missouri – Laws in the New Criminal Code [2017]

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Missouri Human Trafficking Laws In the New Criminal Code Effective January 1, 2017

On December 28, 2016, President Obama issued a Proclamation declaring January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Human trafficking prosecutions are becoming more prevalent in Missouri.  The Missouri House of Representatives’ Human Trafficking Task Force recently made several recommendations to the General Assembly for legislative changes.  One recommendation is “establishing the crimes of coercion and extortion for threats to report illegal immigration status to officials for the purpose of extorting money.”

human-trafficking-in-missouri-The new Missouri Criminal Code has several human trafficking statutes:

Labor Trafficking:

Offense: Under RSMo. §566.206.1 “A person commits the offense of trafficking for the purposes of slavery, involuntary servitude, peonage, or forced labor if he or she knowingly recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains by any means, including but not limited to through the use of force, abduction, coercion, fraud, deception, blackmail, or causing or threatening to cause financial harm, another person for labor or services, for the purposes of slavery, involuntary servitude, peonage, or forced labor, or benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in such activities.”

Punishment: Labor trafficking is a felony that carries a prison term of 5 to 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.00. The maximum punishment is enhanced to life imprisonment if death results or if the violation includes kidnapping, an attempt to kidnap, sexual abuse when punishable as a class B felony, an attempt to commit sexual abuse when the sexual abuse attempted is punishable as a class B felony, or an attempt to kill.

Sexual Trafficking of Adults:

Offense: Under RSMo. §566.209.1 “A person commits the offense of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation if he or she knowingly recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, advertises the availability of or obtains by any means, including but not limited to through the use of force, abduction, coercion, fraud, deception, blackmail, or causing or threatening to cause financial harm, another person for the use or employment of such person in a commercial sex act, sexual conduct, a sexual performance, or the production of explicit sexual material as defined in section 572.010, without his or her consent, or benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in such activities.”

Punishment: Sex trafficking is a felony that carries a prison term of 5 to 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.00. However, the minimum is increased to 10 years and the maximum is increased to life imprisonment if the trafficking was effected by force, abduction, or coercion.

Sexual Trafficking of Children, first degree:

Offense: Sexual Trafficking of Children in the first degree deals with children less than 12 years old. Prior to January 1, 2017, the statute for sex trafficking of a child was RSMo. §566.213. As of January 1, 2017, this offense is found under RSMo. §566.210.1, which states:

A person commits the offense of sexual trafficking of a child in the first degree if he or she knowingly:

(1) Recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains by any means, including but not limited to through the use of force, abduction, coercion, fraud, deception, blackmail, or causing or threatening to cause financial harm, a person under the age of twelve to participate in a commercial sex act, a sexual performance, or the production of explicit sexual material as defined in section 573.010, or benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in such activities;

(2) Causes a person under the age of twelve to engage in a commercial sex act, a sexual performance, or the production of explicit sexual material as defined in section 573.010; or

(3) Advertises the availability of a person under the age of twelve to participate in a commercial sex act, a sexual performance, or the production of explicit sexual material as defined in section 573.010.

Punishment: The punishment for sexual trafficking of a child in the first degree is life imprisonment without eligibility for probation or parole until the offender has served not less than twenty-five years of such sentence. Generally, in Missouri “life imprisonment” means 30 years. But not for sexual trafficking of a child in the first degree. For this offense, “life imprisonment” means imprisonment for the duration of a person’s natural life.

Sexual Trafficking of Children, second degree:

Offense: Sexual Trafficking of Children in the second degree deals with children ages 12 through 17 years old. Prior to January 1, 2017, the statute for sex trafficking of a child was RSMo. §566.212. As of January 1, 2017, this offense is found under RSMo. §566.211.1, which states:

A person commits the offense of sexual trafficking of a child in the second degree if he or she knowingly:

(1) Recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains by any means, including but not limited to through the use of force, abduction, coercion, fraud, deception, blackmail, or causing or threatening to cause financial harm, a person under the age of eighteen to participate in a commercial sex act, a sexual performance, or the production of explicit sexual material as defined in section 573.010, or benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in such activities;

(2) Causes a person under the age of eighteen to engage in a commercial sex act, a sexual performance, or the production of explicit sexual material as defined in section 573.010; or

(3) Advertises the availability of a person under the age of eighteen to participate in a commercial sex act, a sexual performance, or the production of explicit sexual material as defined in section 573.010.

Punishment: Sexual trafficking of a child in the second degree is a felony that carries a prison term of 10 years to life and a fine up to $250,000.00. However, if the offense was effected by force, abduction, or coercion, the punishment is life imprisonment without eligibility for probation or parole until the defendant has served not less than 25 years of such sentence. Unlike sexual trafficking in the first degree, sexual trafficking in the second degree does not mandate that life is natural life.

Sex Offender Registration

Pursuant to RSMo. §589.400, a person who pleads or is found guilty of any of the above sexual trafficking offenses is required to register as a sex offender.

If you are contacted by law enforcement or served with a search warrant or subpoena, you should not try to explain yourself. You should not make any statement to the police. These are very serious charges and you should contact experience lawyers to speak on your behalf.

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Author Erica Mynarich

Erica Mynarich primarily represents people charged with crimes in federal court and in Missouri state courts. Erica has extensive training in trial advocacy, including Gerry Spence’s three-week Trial Lawyers College in Wyoming and the Trial Lawyers College’s graduate program. In 2016, Erica Mynarich was honored for her excellence in trial work by receiving the Missouri Bar Foundation’s Lon O. Hocker award.

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