Human Trafficking Victim Charged with Prostitution in Maryland
Too often women are charged and convicted of prostitution in New Jersey, when they could more accurately be described as victims of human trafficking. Many are forced into selling their bodies as teenagers, and then held hostage to a life of prostitution by violent and controlling pimps. Rather than offering these victims a way out, our justice system routinely labels them as criminals, making it even more difficult for them to find a decent job and have a chance for a better life. Pimps also use this criminalization to their advantage. The pimps retain power over their victims, whose criminal records render them powerless and hopeless.
NPR recently interviewed a 24 year old woman whose ordeal began when she was raped at the young age of 11 years old. The unidentified woman says that after the attack, she began fighting with her parents, acting out, and running away. While walking to a friend’s house one day, a man in a Mercedes pulled over and convinced her to get into his car. He took her shopping, took her to get her hair and nails done, and gave her Ecstasy pills. He then told the girl that she wouldn’t be going home. He was a pimp, and she belonged to him.
Throughout her teenage years, the woman was forced to sell her body for sex. She endured brutal beatings at the hands of her pimp and suffered many painful injuries including a cracked skull, broken ribs, and black eyes. She sometimes tried to run away, only to end up under the control of another pimp. Two of her pimps tattooed their names onto her body, branding her as their property.
Salvation came four years ago when she was arrested in a prostitution sting. One of the detectives on the case asked her about her life, and was moved by what he heard. While she was in jail, he contacted a nonprofit organization that advocates for victims of human trafficking, and asked them to help the young woman.
Although her physical wounds have healed, her criminal record would not go away on its own. Being a convicted prostitute made it unlikely that she would be able to secure a job or find safe housing. A lawyer who advocates for people charged with and convicted of prostitution successfully convinced a Maryland judge to apply a law known as vacatur to erase the woman’s criminal record of all prostitution charges and convictions. Vacatur laws exist in 20 states around the country, but they are not widely known, and are rarely used. Under the vacatur law, if a woman who was convicted of prostitution can prove to a judge that she was forced or coerced into selling her body; the judge has the authority to erase all prostitution charges and convictions from her criminal record.
Camden County Criminal Lawyer, Jill Cohen, Advocates for Victims of Human Trafficking Charged with Prostitution
If you or a loved one has been charged with prostitution and are looking for a way out, Certified Criminal Trial Attorney, Jill Cohen, can help. As a former prosecutor, Camden County criminal lawyer, Jill Cohen, Esq,. has seen firsthand how the justice system prosecutes women who should be treated as victims. She understands how a prostitution conviction can make it even more difficult for women to turn their lives around, and will aggressively fight for your right to true justice and a chance at a better life. Having a highly skilled Camden County criminal lawyer to advocate for you offers you the best possible outcome when facing prostitution charges in New Jersey.
Contact Jill Cohen online, or call for a free consultation. Our offices are located in Westmont, New Jersey and we serve clients in Camden City, Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Westmont, Camden County, Burlington County, Gloucester County and Atlantic County.