Sex trafficking is the sale, transport, harboring or recruitment of a human for the purpose of profiting from a sex act. The definition is paraphrased from the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, severe forms of sex trafficking might also include activities such as coercion and fraud.

Sex trafficking reportedly occurs to a majority of female victims, though male sex slaves are also trafficked. Despite common belief, sex trafficking can occur in any location and is not limited to certain races, nationalities, income levels or gender associations. The CDC does report that those targeted in such crimes are often poor or otherwise vulnerable because they make better targets.

Sex trafficking is a very serious offense not only because of the potential legal consequences associated with criminal charges, but because of the social outcry related to what people see as sexual slavery. Because of this, someone who is charged with sex trafficking can deal with consequences related to social standing, relationships and career — even if the charges are false and the person clears his or her name through the criminal defense process.

Sex trafficking charges don’t necessarily require the belief that you moved someone to another location for the purpose of commercial sex activity. In some cases, people who have been caught in a situation related to prostitution might also face sex trafficking charges. In other cases, people can be falsely accused because of personal issues or revenge scenarios.

Regardless of why you are facing sex trafficking charges, understanding the charges is a first step toward building a criminal defense. Seeking legal assistance before speaking to anyone about the charges can often save you from making mistakes that jeopardize your defense.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Understanding Sex Trafficking,” accessed Sep. 22, 2015