Human Trafficking

Being arrested and accused of human trafficking can have some serious implications and penalties if ever convicted.


Our job as criminal defense attorneys is committed to fight for our clients' freedom and we will stop at nothing to ensure that your rights are protected.


Attorney Josh Kolsrud is a former prosecutor who has over 14 years of experience handling human trafficking cases in Arizona. Because he was a former prosecutor, now defending those being accused, he has incredible knowledge of both sides of the law - a strong advantage that can significantly help the outcome of your case.  

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.

Human trafficking charges and arrested for sex trafficking

Understanding Human Trafficking

In Arizona, human trafficking is recognized as a severe offense, with its definition rooted in the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS).


Specifically, ARS §13-1307 defines sex trafficking as knowingly causing another person to engage in prostitution or sexually explicit performance by force, fraud, or coercion.


The above statute also includes the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where the person is under 18 years of age.


Furthermore, the state acknowledges labor trafficking, ARS §13-1308 which involves recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for labor through force, fraud, or coercion.


sex trafficking and labor trafficking

Differences Between Sex and Labor Trafficking

The term human trafficking has multiple forms. The main categories of this crime are sex trafficking and labor trafficking, as defined in the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 13-307 and 13-308.


Nature of Exploitation:

  • Sex Trafficking: Focuses on forced participation in prostitution or sexually explicit performances.
  • Labor Trafficking: Involves exploitation in various work sectors (e.g., agriculture, domestic work, construction).


Methods of Coercion: Both employ force, fraud, or coercion but may manifest differently:

  • Sex Trafficking: This might involve threats, violence, or manipulative tactics often associated with sexual exploitation.
  • Labor Trafficking: Typically involves false promises of good jobs or better living conditions.


Victim's Age:

  • Sex Trafficking: In Arizona, any commercial sex act involving a person under 18 is considered sex trafficking, irrespective of force, fraud, or coercion.
  • Labor Trafficking: Age is not a distinguishing factor; minors can also be victims.


Locations Most Common:

  • Sex Trafficking: Primarily found in brothels, escort services, and online platforms.
  • Labor Trafficking: Found in domestic work, farming, construction, manufacturing, and other sectors.

Penalties for Human Trafficking in Arizona

According to the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §12-722, the penalties for human trafficking include:


Classification: As a premier criminal defense firm, we often emphasize that human trafficking is classified as a Class 2 felony in Arizona. When the victim is a minor under 15, the repercussions intensify, placing the crime under a Class 2 felony with enhanced sentencing guidelines.


Prison Terms: The imprisonment durations can vary, and our role is to protect every defendant's rights. Penalties might begin at a 3-year minimum for first-time offenders, but factors like repeat offenses or minor involvement can prolong this term.


Fines: The state imposes significant fines, and our goal is to navigate the complexities of the law to reduce or mitigate these financial burdens for our clients.


Restitution: The law often mandates traffickers to compensate victims. This covers various costs the victim might have incurred due to the crime.


Asset Forfeiture: Assets tied to trafficking activities are at risk of being confiscated. At Kolsrud Law Offices, we meticulously scrutinize the legal procedures to ensure the lawful handling of our client's assets.


Mandatory Registration: The possibility of being registered as a sex offender is a significant concern for many clients. We understand the lifelong ramifications and work tirelessly to represent our clients' best interests.

Defending Against Human Trafficking Charges

Facing accusations of human trafficking in Arizona, where penalties are severe, carries strong punishments which call for stronger defenses. Federal crimes attorney Josh Kolsrud has handled over 3,500 cases over the years and has vast experience with numerous defense tactics and strategies.


Below are some of the most common defenses when facing human trafficking charges.


  • 1

    Lack of Knowledge

    One of the main elements of human trafficking is the intent or knowledge of the accused regarding the illicit activity. If it can be demonstrated that the accused had no knowledge or was unaware that their actions constituted human trafficking.

  • 2

    Mistaken Identity

    There can be instances where the wrong individual is accused due to mistaken identity. Providing an alibi, witness testimonies, or surveillance footage can establish this defense.

  • 3

    Duress or Coercion

    If the accused was forced or threatened into participating in human trafficking activities against their will, coercion could be presented as a defense. It must be demonstrated that there was an immediate threat of severe bodily harm or death, and the accused had no reasonable means of escape.

  • 4

    Insufficient Evidence

    Prosecutors bear the burden of proving the accused's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the evidence presented is weak, inconclusive, or obtained illegally, the defense can challenge its validity, leading to potential acquittal or dismissal of charges.

  • 5

    Constitutional Rights Violations

    Any violation of an accused person's constitutional rights can lead to the dismissal of evidence or even the entire case. This includes violations like unlawful searches and seizures, failure to provide a timely Miranda warning, or not allowing access to legal counsel.


Our criminal defense team has extensive experience using these and other legal defenses to challenge human trafficking charges in Arizona.


We understand that every case is unique, and we are committed to developing customized defense strategies tailored to our client's individual circumstances.

penalties and defenses for human trafficking

Impact of Federal Laws on Arizona Human Trafficking Cases

The federal government, through the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and its subsequent reauthorizations, sets a comprehensive framework for combatting human trafficking in all its forms. These federal provisions create strict standards that states, including Arizona, must adhere to.


  • Nationwide Jurisdiction: The federal government can prosecute cases that cross state boundaries, involve multiple states, or have international implications. Trafficking acts beginning in Arizona and moving elsewhere could be prosecuted under federal law.


  • Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA): Enacted in 2000 and subsequently reauthorized and expanded, the TVPA sets minimum standards for penalties regarding severe forms of trafficking. For instance:
    • Sex trafficking involving force, fraud, or coercion carries a potential life sentence.
    • Trafficking of a child under 14, regardless of means, also has a potential life sentence.
    • Trafficking of a child aged 14-18 without force, fraud, or coercion can lead to a 40-year maximum sentence.


  • Mandatory Restitution: Federal law requires traffickers to pay restitution to their victims, which is meant to compensate them for any losses experienced, including medical care, therapy, and lost income.


  • Mandatory Minimum Sentences: Many federal human trafficking offenses come with mandatory minimum sentences, often more severe than equivalent state charges.


  • Potential Life Sentences: Federal human trafficking convictions involving kidnapping, aggravated sexual abuse, or resulting in death can carry life sentences.


  • Asset Forfeiture: Federal law allows confiscating assets derived from or used to commit human trafficking offenses.


  • Additional Federal Charges: Apart from human trafficking, defendants could face other federal charges, such as racketeering, money laundering, and illegal immigration charges, which can add to the overall sentencing

Understanding the interrelation between federal statutes and Arizona's laws is paramount in human trafficking cases. At Kolsrud Law Offices, we pride ourselves on our in-depth knowledge of both, ensuring our clients receive the most informed and strategic defense possible.

What can you expect from the Kolsrud Law Offices?

Opting for our law firm's representation in your human trafficking case guarantees a thorough defense of your rights and the safeguarding of your interests.


We pledge to examine every detail of your case carefully, pinpoint vulnerabilities in the prosecution's claims, and forge a strong defense tailored to you.

Selecting our firm for your human trafficking case ensures a meticulous defense of your rights and interests. Josh Kolsrud and his team will diligently examine your situation and identify gaps in the prosecution's argument. Rely on us to craft a powerful defense suited to your specific circumstances. Your protection is our utmost priority.

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about how we can help you.

An award-winning criminal defense attorney Since 2006

Why Choose Josh Kolsrud

With over 100 trials to his name, and years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor, Josh understands the law, the legal process, and your rights. Josh is also committed to representing every client with utmost integrity and dedication



Josh has prosecuted major crimes on the state and federal level, led a successful anti-human sex trafficking operation that saved lives, and argued before countless juries and justices for his clients



Josh is an expert in both Arizona and federal criminal law, and is ready to put that expertise to work for you.



As a prosecutor, Josh saw far too many defendants lose their livelihood due to poor representation. Josh will always give every client his complete attention and effort

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