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Woman Plans to Use Trafficking as Defense for Homicide


If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 for confidential help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

AP News reports that Tanya Stammer, a Wisconsin woman charged with first-degree intentional homicide and armed robbery, plans to argue that she is not guilty based on her role as a victim of sex trafficking. Stammer is accused of targeting Brian Porsche in Kaukauna in March 2021 alongside a co-defendant, Dontae Payne, after which Payne allegedly shot Porsche. Payne and Stammer then allegedly proceeded to throw Porsche’s keys and phone into Lake Winnebago to make the scene look like a robbery gone awry.

Recent Supreme Court Ruling Affirms Trafficking as a Defense

In July 2022, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that a 2008 state law absolving human trafficking victims from criminal responsibility for criminal acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked extends to homicide. Although the State attempted to argue that the 2008 law did not apply to homicide, the Supreme Court disagreed. In its 4-3 ruling, the Supreme Court noted that the law requires defendants to produce some evidence showing that their actions occurred as a direct result of being compelled to labor against their will.

What Is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is considered a form of modern-day slavery. It occurs when someone uses force or fraud to coerce another person into engaging in commercial sex acts or other forms of labor against their will. However, if the trafficked individual is under the age of 18, neither force nor fraud need be present.

In Wisconsin, trafficking an adult is a Class D felony whereas trafficking of a child is a Class C felony. Individuals benefiting from human trafficking are likewise subject to Class D or Class C felonies.

What Is an Affirmative Defense?

The Wisconsin law allowing criminal immunity to victims of trafficking is called an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense allows a defendant to be excused from criminal liability even if the prosecution successfully proves that the defendant committed a crime. Although typically the prosecution carries the burden of proof in a criminal case, if a defendant raises an affirmative defense, they are responsible for proving that their affirmative defense relieves them of criminal culpability.

If you are a victim of human trafficking and have been accused of a crime, you will need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to handle this complex area of criminal law.

At the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella, we are prepared to mount a robust, personalized, and compassionate legal defense for each and every one of our clients. Contact us online or call (414) 882-8382 to schedule a consultation.