Case # 15NF2459
Date: September 10, 2015
THIRD-STRIKER ARRAIGNED FOR USING SOCIAL MEDIA IN ATTEMPTED HUMAN TRAFFICKING OF FICTITIOUS MINOR GIRL AND PIMPING AND PANDERING WOMAN
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A third–striker was arraigned today on charges of using social media in the attempted human trafficking of a fictitious minor girl and pimping and pandering of a woman. Marice Shontay Hicks, 29, Ontario, is charged with one felony count of attempted human trafficking of a minor, one felony count of attempted pimping of a minor, two felony counts of pandering, one felony count of pimping, and sentencing enhancements for four prior strike convictions in San Bernardino County for assault with a deadly weapon in 2004, 2006, and 2012, and using an electronic device to make criminal threats in 2012. Hicks is also charged with sentencing enhancements for serving a prison term of one year or more and not remaining free for more than five years. If convicted, Hicks faces a maximum sentence of 26 years to life in state prison. He is scheduled for pre-trial Sept. 18, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department N-3, North Justice Center, Fullerton.
Circumstances of the Case
Hicks is accused of being a human trafficker/pimp who exploits women and/or children for financial gain. With the rise in popularity of social media and ease of meeting people on the Internet, many pimps and human traffickers utilize a variety of social media to locate potential victims. The victims are often required to turn over all payment they receive for sex acts from sex purchasers to their pimp.
In July 2015, Hicks is accused of using social media to contact an undercover police officer posing as a minor girl. The defendant is accused of pandering to the undercover officer who he believed was a minor and attempting to recruit the “minor” to come to areas known for prostitution and human trafficking in Orange County to perform commercial sex acts for his benefit.
At the same time, the defendant is accused of pandering Jane Doe by coercing her to perform commercial sex acts and posting explicit sexual advertisements of her on websites known for commercial sex. Hicks is accused of pimping Jane Doe by taking most or all of the money that she received from sex purchasers.
On Sept. 8, 2015, the defendant is accused of attempting to meet the “minor” at a Walmart store in Stanton to drive her to areas known for commercial sex. Members of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF) contacted and subsequently arrested the defendant at the arranged meeting place.
Members of the OCHTTF and the Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) Office work proactively to protect women and minors from falling victim to commercial sexual exploitation. This case was investigated by OCHTTF, a partnership between the Anaheim Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Huntington Beach Police Department, OCDA, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and community and non-profit partners.
Deputy District Attorney Brad Schoenleben of the HEAT Unit is prosecuting this case.
Proposition 35 and HEAT
In November 2012, California’s anti-human trafficking Proposition 35 (Prop 35) was enacted in California with 81 percent of the vote, and over 82 percent of the vote in Orange County, to increase the penalty for human trafficking, particularly in cases involving the trafficking of a minor by force.
A component of the OCHTTF is the OCDA’s Human Exploitation And Trafficking (HEAT) Unit, which targets perpetrators who sexually exploit and traffic women and underage girls for financial gain, including pimps, panderers, and human traffickers. The HEAT Unit uses a tactical plan called PERP: Prosecution, to bring justice for victims of human trafficking and hold perpetrators responsible using Prop 35; Education, to provide law enforcement training to properly handle human trafficking and pandering cases; Resources from public-private partnerships to raise public awareness about human trafficking and provide assistance to the victims; and Publicity, to inform the public and send a message to human traffickers that this crime cannot be perpetrated without suffering severe consequences.
Under the law, human trafficking is described as depriving or violating the personal liberty of another person with the intent to effect a violation of pimping or pandering. Pimping is described as knowingly deriving financial support in whole or in part from the proceeds of prostitution. Pandering is the act of persuading or procuring an individual to become a prostitute, or procuring and/or arranging for a person work in a house of prostitution.
Penal Code Section 236.1 defines:
(1) “Coercion” includes any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process; debt bondage; or providing and facilitating the possession of any controlled substance to a person with the intent to impair the person’s judgment.
(2) “Commercial sex act” means sexual conduct on account of which anything of value is given or received by any person.
(3) “Deprivation or violation of the personal liberty of another” includes substantial and sustained restriction of another’s liberty accomplished through force, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, menace, or threat of unlawful injury to the victim or to another person, under circumstances where the person receiving or apprehending the threat reasonably believes that it is likely that the person making the threat would carry it out.
(4) “Duress” includes a direct or implied threat of force, violence, danger, hardship, or retribution sufficient to cause a reasonable person to acquiesce in or perform an act which he or she would otherwise not have submitted to or performed; a direct or implied threat to destroy, conceal, remove, confiscate, or possess any actual or purported passport or immigration document of the victim; or knowingly destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating, or possessing any actual or purported passport or immigration document of the victim.
(5) “Forced labor or services” means labor or services that are performed or provided by a person and are obtained or maintained through force, fraud, duress, or coercion, or equivalent conduct that would reasonably overbear the will of the person.
(6) “Great bodily injury” means a significant or substantial physical injury.
(7) “Minor” means a person less than 18 years of age.
(8) “Serious harm” includes any harm, whether physical or nonphysical, including psychological, financial, or reputational harm, that is sufficiently serious, under all the surrounding circumstances, to compel a reasonable person of the same background and in the same circumstances to perform or to continue performing labor, services, or commercial sexual acts in order to avoid incurring that harm.
(i) The total circumstances, including the age of the victim, the relationship between the victim and the trafficker or agents of the trafficker, and any handicap or disability of the victim, shall be factors to consider in determining the presence of “deprivation or violation of the personal liberty of another,” “duress,” and “coercion” as described in this section.