Human trafficking is a serious criminal offense that can result in severe legal consequences in the state of Wisconsin. The state’s laws on human trafficking cover a wide range of activities related to transporting or harboring people to perform labor or engage in commercial sex acts. A person found guilty of human trafficking can face severe legal consequences, including imprisonment, hefty fines, and a lifelong criminal record. If you are facing charges of human trafficking or other sensitive crimes in Wisconsin, it is essential to understand the nature of the charges and the potential penalties of a conviction.

What Is Human Trafficking?

According to Wisconsin statute 940.302, human trafficking occurs when a person intentionally recruits, entices, transports, or harbors another individual for the purpose of labor or sexual exploitation. Human trafficking can involve many different activities, including:

  • Threatening to cause bodily injuries or financial harm to a person or someone else.

  • Actually inflicting injuries or causing financial losses.

  • Using force to restrain a person or threatening to use force or violence.

  • Confiscating, concealing, or destroying a person’s passport or other identification documents.

  • Using fraud, deception, or extortion.

  • Placing a person in debt bondage.

  • Controlling access to addictive drugs in order to force a person to comply.

  • Otherwise forcing a person to perform activities against their will or without their consent.

  • Benefiting from human trafficking in any way, including receiving payments or services.

Types of Human Trafficking

There are two main types of human trafficking: labor trafficking and sex trafficking. Labor trafficking occurs when a person is forced, coerced, or deceived into working without pay or for very little pay, often in unsafe or unhealthy conditions. Sex trafficking, on the other hand, involves the exploitation of individuals for sexual services, including prostitution, the creation of pornography, or any other conduct involving sexual arousal, gratification, or humiliation.

Penalties for Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is generally charged as a Class D felony in Wisconsin. A person who is convicted may be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison, and they can also face fines of up to $100,000. The victims of human trafficking may also bring a civil lawsuit against a perpetrator, and they may seek compensation for the actual damages and financial losses they suffered. Punitive damages may also be awarded, and they may be up to three times the amount of the victim’s actual damages.

In cases where the alleged victim of human trafficking is a minor who was forced to engage in commercial sex acts, a person may be charged with child trafficking. This is a Class C felony, and a conviction may result in a sentence of up to 40 years, as well as a maximum fine of $100,000.

In addition to charges of human trafficking or child trafficking, other criminal offenses may apply as well. For example, a person may be charged with sexual assault, kidnapping, or assault and battery due to the actions they allegedly took against a victim. Convictions on multiple charges may result in even longer prison sentences or other penalties.