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#1
Old 11-07-2011, 08:18 PM
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Law: What is the penalty for slavery in the United States today?

Everyone knows that slavery was, at one time, legal in the United States. There was a little conflict and slavery was made illegal.

Given that slavery is now illegal in the US, it stands to reason that there is some method, at least theoretical, in place to investigate, prosecute, and punish those who might dare to practice slavery nowadays.

What, exactly, could happen if John Johnson of Nashville, Tennessee (or, pick your favorite place in the US) was found practicing slavery (e.g. holding people against their will, forcing them to work, not paying minimum wage, and inflicting punishments, etc.)? Is it a misdemeanor? A felony? What exactly are the elements of the crime of Slavery?

Have there been any Slavery prosecutions in the United States since the Civil War?

I do recognize that a person who is practicing slavery in the US would, almost by definition, be violating other laws such as kidnapping, assault and battery, and minimum wage/payroll laws. I'm interested in prosecutions for slavery itself.

Last edited by robert_columbia; 11-07-2011 at 08:18 PM. Reason: punctuation
#2
Old 11-07-2011, 08:23 PM
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Info on some recent prosecutions here.
#3
Old 11-07-2011, 08:25 PM
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Slavery being made "illegal" does not mean that there is a crime called slavery. It means that a purported enslaved person is not in law a slave, and has all the rights of ordinary people, so anyone trying to enslave them is subject to the normal criminal law (e.g., kidnapping and assault) and the normal civil law (e.g., employment law).
#4
Old 11-07-2011, 08:36 PM
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Chapter 77 ("Peonage, Slavery, and Trafficking in Persons") of Title 18 of the U.S. Code has a number of provisions against slave trading, enslavement, and related crimes. For example, 18 U.S.C. § 1589 ("Forced labor") states:
Quote:
Sec. 1589. Forced labor

Whoever knowingly provides or obtains the labor or services of a
person--
(1) by threats of serious harm to, or physical restraint
against, that person or another person;
(2) by means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause
the person to believe that, if the person did not perform such labor
or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm
or physical restraint; or
(3) by means of the abuse or threatened abuse of law or the
legal process,

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or
both. If death results from the violation of this section, or if the
violation includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual
abuse or the attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to
kill, the defendant shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for
any term of years or life, or both.
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#5
Old 11-07-2011, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zombywoof View Post
Info on some recent prosecutions here.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MEBuckner View Post
Chapter 77 ("Peonage, Slavery, and Trafficking in Persons") of Title 18 of the U.S. Code has a number of provisions against slave trading, enslavement, and related crimes. For example, 18 U.S.C. § 1589 ("Forced labor") states:
Thanks. This is exactly the type of thing I was looking for.

Last edited by robert_columbia; 11-07-2011 at 08:41 PM.
#6
Old 11-08-2011, 09:56 AM
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You'd also be looking at Kidnapping, which includes holding people against their will even if you did specifically remove them from another location (i.e., if you rob a banka nd take hostages, that's kidnapping since you are not legally endowed with the power to detain anyone.)
#7
Old 11-08-2011, 10:15 AM
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It should be a lifetime at hard labor.
#8
Old 11-08-2011, 12:19 PM
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It's a combination of both -- you'd not only be prosecuted for the federal crime detailed above but, as Giles notes, you'd also be liable under a bunch of state-law crimes, unjust imprisonment and kidnapping being the biggest ones, but also assault and/or battery if force or the threat of force was used and possibly, depending on the particular facts, conversion, blackmail, making threats, sexual assault/rape, etc., as well as civil (i.e. tort) claims for a lot of the same things plus intentional infliction of emotional distress.

If the person died there'd also be a wrongful death civil action as well as criminal prosecution for negligent or reckless homicide, involuntary manslaughter, involuntary (so-called "depraved heart") murder, or felony murder. (And that's assuming the death was accidental.)

--Cliffy
#9
Old 11-08-2011, 12:29 PM
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Here is a recent case in Philadelphia: Ukrainian brothers charged with slave labor in Philadelphia
#10
Old 11-08-2011, 12:57 PM
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Ohio has no anti-slavery statute, as such, although slavery has been illegal here since the adoption of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787, before Ohio even became a state.

You could be charged in the Buckeye State with abduction, kidnapping, or unlawful restraint.

§2905.02. Abduction
(A) No person, without privilege to do so, shall knowingly do any of the following:
(1) By force or threat, remove another from the place where the other person is found;
(2) By force or threat, restrain the liberty of another person under circumstances that create a risk of physical harm to the victim or place the other person in fear;
(3) Hold another in a condition of involuntary servitude....

§2905.01. Kidnapping
(A) No person, by force, threat, or deception, or, in the case of a victim under the age of thirteen or mentally incompetent, by any means, shall remove another from the place where the other person is found or restrain the liberty of the other person, for any of the following purposes:
(1) To hold for ransom, or as a shield or hostage;
(2) To facilitate the commission of any felony or flight thereafter;
(3) To terrorize, or to inflict serious physical harm on the victim or another;
(4) To engage in sexual activity, as defined in section 2907.01 of the Revised Code, with the victim against the victim's will;
(5) To hinder, impede, or obstruct a function of government, or to force any action or concession on the part of governmental authority;
(6) To hold in a condition of involuntary servitude....

§2905.03. Unlawful restraint
(A) No person, without privilege to do so, shall knowingly restrain another of the other person's liberty.
(B) No person, without privilege to do so and with a sexual motivation, shall knowingly restrain another of the other person's liberty.

§2905.31. Definitions for sections 2905.31 to 2905.33
As used in sections 2905.31 to 2905.33 of the Revised Code:
(A) "Involuntary servitude" means being compelled to perform labor or services for another against one's will.

The first two are felonies; the third is a misdemeanor.

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 11-08-2011 at 12:57 PM.
#11
Old 11-08-2011, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliffy View Post
involuntary (so-called "depraved heart") murder
Wait, involuntary murder? How does that work?
#12
Old 11-08-2011, 04:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
Ohio has no anti-slavery statute, as such, although slavery has been illegal here since the adoption of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787, before Ohio even became a state.

You could be charged in the Buckeye State with abduction, kidnapping, or unlawful restraint.

§2905.02. Abduction
(A) No person, without privilege to do so, shall knowingly do any of the following:
[snip] Hold another in a condition of involuntary servitude....
§2905.01. Kidnapping
(A) No person, by force, threat, or deception, or, in the case of a victim under the age of thirteen or mentally incompetent, by any means, shall remove another from the place where the other person is found or restrain the liberty of the other person, for any of the following purposes: [snip]
(6) To hold in a condition of involuntary servitude...

§2905.31. Definitions for sections 2905.31 to 2905.33
As used in sections 2905.31 to 2905.33 of the Revised Code:
(A) "Involuntary servitude" means being compelled to perform labor or services for another against one's will.
Sounds like slavery to me, but I don't know what sections 2905.31 to 2905.33 say because you did not quote them, but they probably refer to 2905.01 and 2905.02 also.
#13
Old 11-08-2011, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
Wait, involuntary murder? How does that work?
From the Wiki entry on the term depraved heart murder, it seems to refer to killings that aren't on purpose, but occurred because the accused demonstrated an extreme indifference to human life.
#14
Old 11-08-2011, 07:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barbitu8 View Post
Sounds like slavery to me, ...
Except that the slave-holding states in the U.S. before the Civil War probably had laws against abduction, kidnapping and involuntary servitude -- but those laws did not apply to slaves against their slave masters. Abolishing slavery did not create new crimes: it abolished the peculiar legal status of enslaved people, against whom normally criminal actions were not crimes when performed by their masters.
#15
Old 11-08-2011, 07:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
You'd also be looking at Kidnapping, which includes holding people against their will even if you did specifically remove them from another location (i.e., if you rob a banka nd take hostages, that's kidnapping since you are not legally endowed with the power to detain anyone.)
Not true. Most states require asportation (transport) of the victim. Some don't.

There was a case in Georgia a few years ago eviscerated the "any movement, however slight" school of thought, and has a good discussion of the issue:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garza v. State, 670 SE2d 73(Ga. 2008)
"A person commits the offense of kidnapping when he abducts or steals away any person without lawful authority or warrant and holds such person against his will." OCGA§ 16-5-40(a). Under current Georgia jurisprudence, the element of "abduct[ing] or steal[ing] away" the victim, known in legal parlance as "asportation," may be established by proof of "movement of the victim, however slight." Griffin v. State, 282 Ga. 215, 219(1), 647 S.E.2d 36 (2007). Thus, in addition to the more traditional scenarios involving child abduction or kidnapping for ransom, situations involving some other form of criminal activity have been found to support kidnapping charges even though the movement of the victim was merely a minor incident to the primary offense.
The opinion goes on to list the many problems that exist with the idea that even slight movement, incidental to the crime, counts as "asportation:"

Quote:
In recognition of these problems, "the great majority of jurisdictions have accepted the view that kidnapping should not be recognized as a separate offense whenever the asportation relied upon to establish the kidnapping is merely incidental to another offense."
.
.
.
Accordingly, we find it necessary to adopt a more cogent standard for determining the sufficiency of evidence of asportation. Having surveyed the approaches of other jurisdictions in determining what movements are more than merely incidental to other criminal activity, we hereby adopt the test first articulated in Govt. of Virgin Islands v. Berry, 604 F.2d 221 (3d Cir.1979), and since adopted by various of our sister states as well as the Eleventh Circuit in its construction of the federal kidnapping statute. See United States v. Howard, 918 F.2d 1529(II)(B) (11th Cir.1990). The Berry test, formulated in an effort to synthesize the various standards adopted by those jurisdictions embracing the modern approach with respect to asportation, assesses four factors in determining whether the movement at issue constitutes asportation: (1) the duration of the movement; (2) whether the movement occurred during the commission of a separate offense; (3) whether such movement was an inherent part of that separate offense; and (4) whether the movement itself presented a significant danger to the victim independent of the danger posed by the separate offense.

Last edited by Bricker; 11-08-2011 at 07:53 PM.
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