New laws to protect child sex trade victims in Florida (U.S.)

Posted on July 29, 2012

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New Florida laws

Two bills signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott impose tougher penalties on criminals who engage in human trafficking, The laws also provide more support for sexually trafficked children. They take effect Jan. 1:

Sexual Exploitation (Florida Safe Harbor Act)

  • Increases the maximum fine for someone who solicits a prostitute from $500 to $5,000.
  • Amends definition of sexual abuse of a child to include engaging in prostitution and participating in sex trafficking.
  • Allows law enforcement discretion to deliver sexually exploited children to the Department of Children & Families, rather than arresting them, and authorizes DCF to place the child into an appropriate short-term safe house.
  • Requires DCF to assess sexually exploited children and determine if placement in a short-term safe house is appropriate, to generate specific tracking reports looking at the needs of human trafficking victims and the ability to serve those victims, and to include services for sexually exploited children in each circuit.
  • Provides for training for law enforcement officials who are likely to encounter sexually exploited children.

Human Trafficking

  • Expands the jurisdiction of the statewide prosecutor to include human trafficking cases.
  • Increases criminal penalties, mostly to first-degree felonies.
  • Adds sex traffickers to the list of offenders that can be designated as sex offenders and sexual predators.
  • Allows seizure and forfeiture of property used, attempted to be used or intended to be used in the trafficking of victims.
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