In 2007, the U.S. Senate declared January 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day in an effort to raise the consciousness about this issue. When you hear the term, Human Trafficking, you probably think of sex slavery or forced prostitution. I think that it is important for people to understand that the term is far more encompassing than that. Human trafficking is not just sex slavery. It is forced labor in cleaning services, farmlands, factories, nail salons and many other industries. It is holding humans captive, and forcing them to work for free, by threatening them. It is essentially modern day slavery.
In Louisiana, much attention has been paid to the issue lately in terms of legislation and advocacy groups. Last summer, Governor Jindal signed three new human trafficking related bills into law. The most significant bill broadened Louisiana’s Racketeering Laws by adding the following crimes to the definition of racketeering statute: female genital mutilation, aggravated kidnapping of a child younger than 13, human trafficking, trafficking of children for sexual purposes, bigamy, abetting in bigamy and the sale of minor children. Racketeering laws are utilized by prosecutors to target members of an organization engaged in criminal activities. This new bill will allow tougher penalties against groups of individuals who are engaged in human trafficking activities. The Louisiana racketeering provides for a penalty of imprisonment for not more than 50 years or a fine up to 1 million dollars, or both.
Another bill strengthens enforcement of current law that requires certain establishments to post the National Human Trafficking Hotline number. The bill adds penalties for the failure to post the hotline number and allocates the authority to promulgate rules regarding posting specifics to the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.
The third bill provides for pre-adjudication diversion programs for juveniles who allegedly engaged in prostitution related offenses due to sexual exploitation by human traffickers. The purpose of the bill is to help rehabilitate these young people rather than punishing them. This bill also takes additional steps to protect victims of human trafficking by creating a civil cause of action for victims, making victim restitution mandatory and establishing victim assistance guidelines for law enforcement, District Attorneys and the Attorney General’s office.
As a criminal defense attorney in the New Orleans area, I have defended individuals who were accused of Human Trafficking. These client’s face harsh criticism and blood thirsty prosecutors. My law firm is dedicated to providing our clients with a high level of guidance and the legal advocacy they deserve. My top priority is to create the strongest defense possible and help my clients avoid or minimize the penalties associated with human trafficking charges.