In January 2016, Republican Senator Anitere Flores introduced Senate Bill 1294 to the Floor, a proposal that increases protections for minors and victims of human trafficking. The bill passed in April and took effect July 1. These new changes to the Florida human trafficking laws may have implications for defendants of current and future trafficking and other sex crime cases.
If you are in the midst of a human trafficking case in Florida, call our sex crimes defense attorney at Goldman Wetzel and speak to an attorney about a defense and how these new legislative changes might impact your case: 727-828-3900.
What changes did SB 1294 make to Florida human trafficking laws?
The new bill’s amendments make it easier to obtain witness testimonies, increase protections for victims, and eliminate certain defenses to human trafficking charges.
“Under the new law, a motion can be made when necessary so a child under 18 can provide videotaped testimony, participate in proceedings by closed circuit television, or use other protections… such as placing limitations on how testimony is taken or allowing use of a therapy or service animal,” provides the Guardian ad Litem program.
Specifically, the Florida Senate explains, SB 1294:
- Increases the eligible age of a child victim or witness who is entitled to have his/ her testimony videotaped from under 16 years of age to under 18 years of age;
- Increases the age from under 16 to under 18 to extend the protections of court orders intended to protect a victim or witness from severe emotional or mental harm due to the presence of the defendant; and
- Eliminates two defenses to human trafficking crimes. Defendants can no longer use the victim’s lack of chastity or the consent of a victim as a defense if the victim is under 18 years of age at the time of the offense.
How might these changes affect criminal cases?
The changes to Florida’s human trafficking laws can make defending human trafficking charges more challenging. Firstly, the new law opens the doors for a greater number of witnesses to share their testimony. Secondly, because the bill increases witnesses’ and victims’ protections, more witnesses may feel more comfortable sharing their testimony, which may or may not damage a defendant’s case.
Lastly, limiting available defenses against prosecution hampers human trafficking defendants’ cases for obvious reasons. Not being able to use consent and lack of chastity as evidence encumbers defense tactics and options.
If you have been charged with a trafficking or another sex crime, it is vital to call an attorney at Goldman Wetzel as soon as possible to set to work on crafting another defense, plea bargaining, or getting the charges/penalties reduced.
Can Goldman Wetzel help me fight my human trafficking charges?
charges can be second-, first-, or life felony charges, depending on the circumstances; if convicted, dire penalties may ensue. A solid defense and staunch legal advocacy is critical to protecting your rights during the legal process and presenting a solid defense. Let Goldman Wetzel fight on your behalf.
Contact our office in St. Petersburg today at 727-828-3900.