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Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is often referred to as a type of modern-day slavery. In many cases, human trafficking involves the transportation of people in order to engage them in sexual activity, such as prostitution. As a result, sex trafficking statutes are applied. Both federal and Florida laws include heavy fines and severe criminal penalties, including potential mandatory/minimum sentences of up to 25 years and maximum potential sentences of up to life. Mr. Petruzzi has represented numerous individuals charged with, or under investigation for, human trafficking offenses by both federal and state authorities. His experience and knowledge serve as an invaluable asset to his clients.

To arrange for a free and confidential consultation with respect to any federal or state human trafficking offense, contact our office at (305) 330-3905. For complete details about Mr. Petruzzi’s background, expertise and experience, click here.

Federal human trafficking offenses are investigated and prosecuted by various agencies, including the FBI, DEA, ICE, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. Some common federal statutes criminalizing human trafficking include:

18 USC Sec. 2421 –

Whoever knowingly transports any individual in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any territory or possession of the United States, with intent that such individual engage in prostitution, or in any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.

Florida human trafficking offenses are investigated and prosecuted by various state and local law enforcement agencies. Some common Florida statutes criminalizing human trafficking include:

787.06 Human trafficking. –

(1) (a) The Legislature finds that human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Victims of human trafficking are young children, teenagers and adults. Thousands of victims are trafficked annually across international borders worldwide. Many of these victims are trafficked into this state. The Legislature finds that victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor.

(b) The Legislature finds that while many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution or the sexual entertainment industry, trafficking also occurs in forms of labor exploitation, such as domestic servitude, restaurant work, janitorial work, sweatshop factory work, and migrant agricultural work.

(c) The Legislature finds that traffickers use various techniques to instill fear in victims and to keep them enslaved. Some traffickers keep their victims under lock and key. However, the most frequently used practices are less obvious techniques that include isolating victims from the public and family members; confiscating passports, visas, or other identification documents; using or threatening to use violence toward victims or their families; telling victims that they will be imprisoned or deported for immigration violations if they contact authorities; and controlling the victims’ funds by holding the money ostensibly for safekeeping.

(d) It is the intent of the Legislature that the perpetrators of human trafficking be penalized for their illegal conduct and that the victims of trafficking be protected and assisted by this state and its agencies. In furtherance of this policy, it is the intent of the Legislature that the state Supreme Court, The Florida Bar, and relevant state agencies prepare and implement training programs in order that judges, attorneys, law enforcement personnel, investigators, and others are able to identify traffickers and victims of human trafficking and direct victims to appropriate agencies for assistance. It is the intent of the Legislature that the Department of Children and Services and other state agencies cooperate with other state and federal agencies to ensure that victims of human trafficking can access social services and benefits to alleviate their plight.

(2) As used in this section, the term:

(a) “Financial harm” includes extortionate extension of credit, loan sharking as defined in s.687.071, or employment contracts that violate the statute of frauds as provided in s. 725.01.

(b) “Forced labor or services” means labor or services obtained from a person by:

1. Using or threatening to use physical force against that person or another person;

2. Restraining, isolating, or confining or threatening to restrain, isolate, or confine that person or another person without lawful authority and against her or his will;

3. Using lending or other credit methods to establish a debt by that person or another 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 that person or another person;

5. Causing or threatening to cause financial harm to any person; or

6. Fraud or coercion.

(c) “Human trafficking” means transporting, soliciting, recruiting, harboring, providing, or obtaining another person for transport.

(d) “Maintain,” when used in relation to labor services, means to secure continued performance thereof, regardless of any initial agreement on the part of the victim to perform such type service.

(3) Any person who knowingly:

(a) Engages, or attempts to engage, in human trafficking with the intent or knowledge that the trafficked person will be subjected to forced labor or services; or

(b) Benefits financially by receiving anything of value from participation in a venture that has subjected a person to forced labor or services; commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s.775.084.

(4) The Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission shall establish standards for basic and advanced training programs for law enforcement officers in the subjects of investigating and preventing human trafficking crimes. After Jan. 1, 2007, every basic skills course required for law enforcement officers to obtain initial certification must include training on human trafficking crime prevention and investigation.

(5) Each state attorney shall develop standards of instruction for prosecutors to receive training on the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking crimes and shall provide for periodic and timely instruction.

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