Human Trafficking in North Carolina

by | Feb 26, 2018 | Blog Posts, NC Criminal Defense | 0 comments

Most people have heard of human trafficking in terms of sexual servitude human traffickingor modern day slavery. Human trafficking, involuntary servitude, and sexual servitude are all related offenses in North Carolina. These crimes are all punished as felonies. This blog explores these crimes and how they differ and relate to one another.

Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking is governed by N.C.G.S. 14-43.11. A person is guilty of the offense of human trafficking if that person:

  1. Knowingly
  2. Recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains,
  3. By any means (ex. Bribery, coercion, deception, intimidation – see below)
  4. Another person
  5. With the intent that that person be held in involuntary servitude or sexual servitude.

The questions that logically follow are, what is “involuntary servitude” and what is “sexual servitude”? We explore these questions below.

Involuntary Servitude

Involuntary Servitude is governed by N.C.G.S. 14-43.12. A person is guilty of this offense if that person:

  1. knowingly and willfully
  2. holds another person
  3. in involuntary servitude. Involuntary servitude means the performance of labor by deception, coercion, or intimidation (see below).

Sexual Servitude

Sexual Servitude is governed by N.C.G.S. 14-43.13. A person is guilty of this offense if that person:

  1. knowingly and willfully
  2. subjects or maintains another person
  3. in sexual servitude. Sexual servitude includes any sexual activity induced or obtained 1) by coercion or deception (see below) or 2) from a person less than 18 years old.
    1. This term includes sexual activity in exchange for something of value or in exchange for a promise of something of value.
    2. The covered sexual activities are defined by G.S. 14-190.13 to include things such as masturbation; vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse with humans or other animals; certain excretory functions; and other acts.

These three crimes are different from one another and North Carolina law requires that these offenses be treated separately. These offenses may not be merged together.

Note that “coercion” and “deception” are defined in G.S. 14-43.10(a)(1):

  1. Coercion includes all of the following:
    1. Causing or threatening to cause bodily harm to any person, physically restraining or confining any person, or threatening to physically restrain or confine any person
    2. Exposing or threatening to expose any fact or information that if revealed would tend to subject a person to criminal or immigration proceedings, hatred, contempt, or ridicule
    3. Destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating, or possessing any actual or purported passport or other immigration document, or any other actual or purported government identification document, of any person
    4. Providing a controlled substance, as defined by S. 90-87, to a person
  2. Deception includes all of the following:
    1. Creating or confirming another’s impression of an existing fact or past event that is false and which the accused knows or believes to be false
    2. Maintaining the status or condition of a person arising from a pledge by that person of his or her personal services as security for a debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined, or preventing a person from acquiring information pertinent to the disposition of such debt
    3. Promising benefits or the performance of services that the accused does not intend to deliver or perform or knows will not be delivered or performed


In North Carolina, human trafficking, involuntary servitude, and sexual servitude are all Class F felonies if the victim of the offense is an adult. If the victim of the offense is a minor (under age 18), the crime become Class C felony, which is three classes higher. Both degrees of human trafficking/involuntary servitude/sexual servitude are punished according to the North Carolina Felony Sentencing Guidelines.


To give you a broad understanding of the penalties that a person would face, a person convicted of a Class F felony generally faces approximately 10 – 62 months in prison. A person convicted of a Class C felony generally faces approximately 44 – 231 months in prison.  Sex crimes may be penalized more harshly. The range is due to the different factors and considerations, both mitigating and aggravating, which go into sentencing individual defendants.


If you have been charged with human trafficking or another crime in North Carolina or South Carolina, a criminal defense attorney can help you understand your options. Contact a criminal defense lawyer today to discuss these options. 980-272-8438.


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