Friend of the Indiana appellate and post-conviction advocate

Ethical Considerations When Presenting a Trafficked-Person Defense

In my last post, I explained how to present a trafficked-person defense on a client’s behalf. Before doing so, however, defense counsel must do the following.

First, Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.4 requires counsel to “reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished.” Clients must be informed of the potential consequences of pursuing a trafficked-person defense. Presenting such a defense will likely require the client’s testimony identifying his/her trafficker, which will raise safety concerns for the client. Additionally, the client will have to admit to the wrongdoing alleged in the case and possibly to other criminal wrongdoing as well. This raises Fifth Amendment implications, which certainly should be discussed with the client. Finally, the client would be subject to cross-examination by the prosecutor, which could include an attack on his/her character. These concerns must be discussed thoroughly with the client before proceeding.

If after this discussion the client declines to pursue the defense, counsel is prohibited from doing so. See Ind. Prof. Cond. R. 1.2, 1.6. However, counsel should consider referring the client to services available in the community to get help. The following are just some of the resources available both in Indiana and nationally:

In my final post, I will review two excellent books written about human trafficking.

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