Lack of knowledge of the age of the victim of human trafficking now does not constitute a defense to human trafficking of a minor in Oklahoma. The change in law makes human trafficking of a minor a strict liability crime. If you engage in human trafficking of a minor in Oklahoma, you can be found guilty no matter what you thought the victim’s age was—even if the victim lied about their age.
In Oklahoma, it’s unlawful to knowingly engage in human trafficking. “Human trafficking” is defined as modern-day slavery that includes, but is not limited to, extreme exploitation and the denial of freedom or liberty of an individual for purposes of deriving benefit from that individual’s commercial sex act or labor. “Commercial sex” means any form of commercial sexual activity such as sexually explicit performances, prostitution, participation in the production of pornography, performance in a strip club, or exotic dancing or display.
“Human trafficking for labor” means:
- recruiting, enticing, harboring, maintaining, transporting, providing, or obtaining, by any means, another person through deception, force, fraud, threat, or coercion or for purposes of engaging the person in labor; or
- benefiting, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture that has engaged in an act of trafficking for labor.
“Human trafficking for commercial sex” means:
- recruiting, enticing, harboring, maintaining, transporting, providing, or obtaining, by any means, another person through deception, force, fraud, threat, or coercion for purposes of engaging the person in a commercial sex act;
- recruiting, enticing, harboring, maintaining, transporting, providing, purchasing, or obtaining, by any means, a minor for purposes of engaging the minor in a commercial sex act, or
- benefiting, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participating in a venture that has engaged in an act of trafficking for commercial sex.
“Coercion” means compelling, forcing, or intimidating a person to act by:
- threats of harm or physical restraint against any person;
- any act, scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that performing, or failing to perform, an act would result in serious physical, financial, or emotional harm or distress to or physical restraint against any person;
- the abuse or threatened abuse of the law or legal process
- knowingly destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating or possessing any actual or purported passport, labor or immigration document, or other government identification document, including but not limited to a driver license or birth certificate, of another person;
- facilitating or controlling a person’s access to any addictive or controlled substance other than for legal medical purposes;
- demanding or claiming money, goods, or any other thing of value from or on behalf of a prostituted person where such demand or claim arises from or is directly related to the act of prostitution;
- determining, dictating or setting the times at which another person will be available to engage in an act of prostitution with a third party;
- determining, dictating or setting the places at which another person will be available for solicitation of, or to engage in, an act of prostitution with a third party; or
- determining, dictating or setting the places at which another person will reside for purposes of making such person available to engage in an act of prostitution with a third party.
“Legal process” means the criminal law, the civil law, or the regulatory system of the federal government, any state, territory, district, commonwealth, or trust territory therein, and any foreign government or subdivision thereof and includes legal civil actions, criminal actions, and regulatory petitions or applications.
Punishment For Human Trafficking In Oklahoma
This crime is a felony. The range of punishment in the Department of Corrections is five years–life. The maximum fine is $100,000. If the victim was under 18 years old at the time of the offense, the range of punishment in the Department of Corrections is 15 years–life. The maximum fine is $250,000. The defendant must pay restitution to the victim. This is an 85% crime, so the defendant must serve 85% of their sentence before being eligible for parole consideration or any earned credits. The sentence may not be deferred or suspended, so a person convicted of human trafficking is ineligible for probation. The inmate is not eligible state correctional institution earned credits accruing from and after November 1, 1989, except for achievement earned credits. To qualify for achievement earned credits, the inmate must also be in compliance with the standards for Class level 2 behavior.
It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for a criminal offense that, during the time of the alleged commission of the offense, the defendant was a victim of human trafficking. The consent of a victim to human trafficking or any other activity in this law does not constitute a defense.
SB 34 amended 21 O.S. § 748. This change went into effect November 1, 2017.
Sources: SB 34, 21 O.S. § 748, & 57 O.S. § 138