Making Sense of Sex Trafficking Laws

Understanding sex trafficking laws in Massachusetts and what an experienced legal defense team can do to defend you 

Sex trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.” (1) In keeping with its definition, sex trafficking laws are broad, allowing charges to be brought against any person accused of trafficking or benefitting from a person who has been trafficked in some way. There is ample room for prosecution of sex trafficking crimes, including, as the definition suggests, in cases involving patronizing or solicitation.

If you have been accused of or formally charged with a sex trafficking charge, it is imperative to have proper legal representation on your side. An experienced attorney can explain to you the nuances of the law and skillfully maneuver through the legal system. If you or a loved one needs fearless representation, reach out to the Law Offices of Keren Goldenberg for a free consultation. You can get in touch via our online contact form or by phone: 978-221-2503 (Lowell), 617-431-2701 (Belmont).

Understanding sex trafficking laws: Federal and State

Sweeping sex trafficking laws serve to punish knowing or unknowing offenders at any level of a trafficking operation. Paired with policy efforts to support victims and criminalize certain types of sex work, trafficking laws have a secondary function of providing tools and opportunities for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute prostitution and other criminalized sexual activities, as well as incentives for sex workers to claim to be victims of sex trafficking, whether true or not. 

Sex trafficking is a felony crime and is criminalized at the federal level and by every state. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was the first comprehensive federal law enacted to address human trafficking in October 2000. (2) Sex trafficking was later criminalized in Massachusetts in 2011 under Chapter 265, Section 50 of Massachusetts state law. (3) The TVPA (and similar laws at the state level) focus partially on strengthening the ability of federal agencies to prosecute and punish those found to be in violation of trafficking laws. 

What’s at risk: The penalties of a sex trafficking conviction

At the state level, sex trafficking crimes are punished with prison sentences of 5 to 20 years with no option for probation, parole, or a reduced sentence of less than the minimum 5 years. Those found to be offenders of sex trafficking laws are also required to register before the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB), the implications of which can have wide impacts on an individual’s future.

While prosecution is strict in every case involving sex trafficking, certain state trafficking laws, including the laws governing Massachusetts, guarantee more severe penalties for trafficking involving certain vulnerable populations such as children under 18 years of age. 

Collaboration between federal, state, and local law enforcement to prosecute sex trafficking crimes is common and prosecutors and district attorneys are aggressive in prosecuting these cases. This is why finding a strong defense attorney to defend your case is so essential. 

An accusation doesn’t have to ruin your life

Sex trafficking cases, from the prosecution standpoint, often rely heavily on victim testimony. Cases related to sex trafficking laws are also rarely dropped. (2) While much focus is on finding help for victims, it can be challenging to search for legal defense options as a person accused of sex trafficking.

If you are charged with or under investigation for violating sex trafficking laws, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney today. Since the laws are so broad and prosecution so aggressive, you need an experienced attorney to navigate sex trafficking charges within the criminal justice system. Contact Keren Goldenberg today and give your defense a fighting chance. 

The Law Offices of Keren Goldenberg are conveniently located in Lowell and Belmont, Massachusetts at the following locations:

The Law Offices of Keren Goldenberg

97 Central St. #403

Lowell, MA 01852


The Law Offices of Keren Goldenberg

19A Alexander Ave.

Belmont, MA 02478




  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
  2. Prosecuting Human Trafficking Cases: Lessons Learned and Promising Practices
  3. MA Legislature