Florida lawmakers have recently been focusing on increased efforts to combat the crime of human trafficking. The result of these efforts has been new legislation criminalizing a broad range of conduct most people don’t realize is connected with human trafficking. News headlines of human trafficking arrests have been increasing across the state, with many individuals facing lengthy prison sentences for these crimes.
Many people have difficulty distinguishing between the crimes of human trafficking and prostitution. The key difference is essentially consent or coercion. Prostitution criminalizes the exchange of sexual acts for money with consenting individuals. Human trafficking is considered by the Florida legislature to be modern-day slavery involving an element of coercion that isn’t present in prostitution. Human trafficking also includes trafficking individuals for labor or services. Most prostitution offenses are misdemeanors, while human trafficking offenses are felonies carrying much harsher sentences.
Under current Florida law, the crime of human trafficking is defined as any person who knowingly, or in reckless disregard of the facts, engages or attempts to engage in human trafficking, or benefits financially by receiving anything of value from participation in a venture that has subjected a person to human trafficking for labor or services or commercial sexual activity, or using coercion for labor, services, or commercial sexual activity.