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Human Trafficking

Under § 787.06(2)(d), Fla. Stat., the state of Florida defines the term "human trafficking" to mean transporting, soliciting, recruiting, harboring, providing, enticing, maintaining or obtaining another person for the purpose of exploitation of that person.

The most serious forms of exploitation under the human trafficking statute include either:

  • sex trafficking in which a 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; or
  • labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Because this statute is so broad, many people involved in prostitution can be charged under the statute. The human trafficking laws in Florida are particularly harsh when compared with other states.

Attorney for Human Trafficking Crimes in Florida

Criminal charges for human trafficking are extremely serious under Florida law. Contact a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss any charges related to soliciting a prostitute or engaging in any form of human trafficking in Tampa, Hillsborough County, or the surrounding areas in Florida.

We are familiar with the types of undercover prostitution sting operations used by officers in Polk County and the surrounding areas. Our attorneys represent clients charged with a wide range of prostitution-related charges including offering to commit prostitution, soliciting for prostitution, and maintaining a place of prostitution.

Our attorneys represent clients charged with a wide range of prostitution-related charges throughout Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Hernando County and Polk County, FL. Call 813-250-0500.


Elements of Human Trafficking Crimes in Florida

The crime of human trafficking is charged under Florida Statute § 787.06(3). In order to prove the crime of Human Trafficking, the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant knowingly, or in reckless disregard of the facts, engaged in, attempted to engage in, benefited financially by receiving something of value from participation in a venture that subjected a person to human trafficking.
  2. The human trafficking involved one of the following:
    • § 787.06(3)(a)1, Fla. Stat. - the labor or services of a child;
    • § 787.06(3)(a)2, Fla. Stat. - involved the defendant's use of coercion for the labor or services of an adult;
    • § 787.06(3)(b), Fla. Stat. - involved the defendant’s use of coercion for commercial sexual activity of an adult;
    • § 787.06(3)(c)1, Fla. Stat. - was for the labor or services of a child who was an unauthorized alien;
    • § 787.06(3)(c)2, Fla. Stat. - involved the defendant's use of coercion for the labor or services of an adult who was an unauthorized alien;
    • § 787.06(3)(d), Fla. Stat. - involved the defendant's use of coercion for commercial sexual activity of an adult who was an unauthorized alien;
    • § 787.06(3)(e)1, Fla. Stat. - was for the labor or services of a child by the transfer or transport of the child from outside Florida to within this state;
    • § 787.06(3)(e)2, Fla. Stat. - involved the defendant's use of coercion for the labor or services of an adult by the transfer or transport of the adult from outside Florida to within this state;
    • § 787.06(3)(f)1, Fla. Stat. - was for commercial sexual activity of a child by the transfer or transport of the child from outside Florida to within this state;
    • § 787.06(3)(f)2, Fla. Stat. - involved the defendant's use of coercion for commercial sexual activity of an adult by the transfer or transport of the adult from outside Florida to within this state; and
    • § 787.06(3)(g), Fla. Stat. - was for commercial sexual activity in which a child or person who is mentally defective or mentally incapacitated was involved.

The crime can be reclassification, as explained in § 787.06(8), Fla. Stat., if the jury also finds that the prosecutor for the State of Florida proved beyond a reasonable doubt that during the commission of the Human Trafficking, the defendant caused great bodily harm or permanent disability or permanent disfigurement to the victim or another person.


Penalties for Human Trafficking Crimes in Florida

A conviction under § 787.06(3)(f)1, Florida Statutes, for human trafficking via commercial sexual activity of a child by transport or transfer into Florida is a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life. Under § 787.06(3)(g), Florida Statutes, human trafficking via commercial sexual activity where a child was involved but without a finding that the child was transported from outside the state of Florida is a life felony.

Under § 787.06(9), Fla. Stat., the defendant’s ignorance of victim’s age is not a defense to the crime charged. It is also not a defense to the crime of human trafficking that the victim misrepresented his other age or that the defendant had a bona fide belief of the victim’s age.

Furthermore, under § 787.06(10), Fla. Stat., the victim’s lack of chastity or the willingness or consent of the victim is not a defense if he or she was under 18 years of age at the time of the offense.


Definitions in Florida's Human Trafficking Statute

Under § 787.06(2)(a), Fla. Stat., the term "coercion" means:

  1. Using or threatening to use physical force against any person;
  2. Restraining, isolating, or confining or threatening to restrain, isolate, or confine any person without lawful authority and against her or his will;
  3. Using lending or other credit methods to establish a debt by any person when labor or services are pledged as a security for the debt, if the value of the labor or services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt, the length and nature of the labor or services are not respectively limited and defined;
  4. Destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating, withholding, or possessing any actual or purported passport, visa, or other immigration document, or any other actual or purported government identification document, of any person;
  5. Causing or threatening to cause financial harm to any person;
  6. Enticing or luring any person by fraud or deceit; or
  7. Providing a controlled substance as outlined in Schedule I or Schedule II of Florida Statute 893.03 to any person for the purpose of exploitation of that person.

Under § 787.06(2)(b), Fla. Stat., the term “commercial sexual activity” means:

  • a crime named in Chapter 796;
  • an attempt to commit any crime named in chapter 796 crime;
  • sexually explicit performances; or
  • the production of pornography.

The phrase “sexually explicit performance” means an act or show, whether public or private, that is live, photographed, recorded, or videotaped and intended to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires or appeal to the prurient interest.


Additional Resources

What is Human Trafficking? - Visit the website of Attorney General Pam Bondi with the Florida Office of the Attorney General to find out more about the definition of human trafficking under federal law and Florida law. The website also provides information about the signs of human trafficking for purposes of labor or prostitution.

Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking - The term "human trafficking" involves the exploitation and commercial exchange of people for purposes of debt bondage, servitude, involuntary labor, prostitution, and pornography. The FCAHT website explains why the State of Florida has been identified as a hub for human trafficking activity. As a non-profit organization created in 2004, the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking is an International and Domestic Anti-Trafficking Agency.

Florida's Human Trafficking Summit Website - The Florida Attorney General's new website, HumanTraffickingSummit.com, provides information about the 2018 Florida Human Trafficking Summit on Oct. 1, 2018 in Orlando. The one-day summit will bring together more than 1,000 registrants to participate in workshops and training opportunities covering ways to eradicate all forms of human trafficking. Registration for the event opens June 1, 2018. The summit will provide updates about efforts to provide a safe haven for victims of human trafficking. According to the new website, human trafficking is modern day slavery that exploits an estimated 20 million people worldwide, including innocent children, women and men. Florida ranks third in the nation in the number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Find information on proseuctions by Statewide Prosecutors on Florida's new branding statute.


This article was last updated on Friday, May 4, 2018.

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