Q: Can you please spread the word – human trafficking must be combated! There are signs people can look for and report.
FM, Santa Monica
A: Signs of human trafficking may include: an appearance of violence, unexplained bruising, black eyes, cuts or marks; behaviors such as fear, anxiety, depression, hypervigilance, nervousness; someone who is easily startled, agitated or frightened; a person who does not know where he is; a person who does not have control of the money or documents; a person accompanied by an older “boyfriend” or other “companion”; he or she is dressed to look older or does not suit the weather or the actual situation; or a name or symbol is tattooed or branded on the chest, arm or neck.
If you believe human trafficking is occurring, there are a number of options, including: (a) Call 1-888-373-7888; and/or dial 911; (b) and/or text 233733; (c) report an online tip at humantraffickinghotline.org; (d) chat with the National Human Trafficking Hotline at humantraffickinghotline.org; (e) report missing children or child pornography to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678), or through their Cybertipline.
Q: Human trafficking is an international tragedy and disgrace. What laws do we have to fight it?
KT, Hermosa Beach
A: At the federal level, there are numerous laws on the point: the Customs and Facilitations and Reauthorization of Enforcement Act, which prohibits the importation of goods made here through human or labor trafficking strength ; Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which establishes the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center to ensure the integration and overall effectiveness of government law enforcement efforts; the Anti-Trafficking Protection Act, which contains methods for prosecuting traffickers, preventing human trafficking, protecting victims and survivors, and criminalizing human trafficking and related offenses federal; and the Civil Property Forfeiture Reform Act, which warns owners whose property has been identified as being used to facilitate the trafficking or harboring of foreigners.
In California, if convicted of trafficking to obtain forced labor or services, the penalty is 5, 8, or 12 years in state prison, plus a fine of up to $500,000. Two new California laws focus on combating human trafficking through required training and posting notices. Also, Section 236.1 of the California Penal Code, which you can find online, is quite comprehensive and makes sex trafficking a felony.
Ron Sokol has been a practicing lawyer for over 35 years and has also served as a pro tem judge, mediator and arbitrator on several occasions. It is important to keep in mind that this column presents a summary of the law and should not be treated or taken as legal advice, much less a substitute for genuine consultation with a qualified professional.