Human trafficking has long been a problematic issue within the state of Florida. The 2015 legislative session recently passed HB 369, a new law that will try to raise awareness about the problem. Other laws have also recently gone into effect to address the issue of human trafficking and further increase awareness throughout Florida.
How Does HB 369 Raise Awareness About Trafficking?
HB 369 went into effect January 1, requiring the placement of informative signs about human trafficking in various places such as rest areas, hospital emergency rooms, weigh stations, turnpike service plazas, airports and rail stations.
The signs must be at least 8.5 by 11 inches wide, and are required to be in both English and Spanish.
While there are currently no set penalties for not complying with this law, the county commission is authorized to give a penalty if signs are not displayed in the proper areas. The aim of these signs is to inform trafficking victims of their rights and help other people to recognize signs of human trafficking.
Have Penalties Been Changed for Human Traffickers?
Another law related to this issue—HB 465—just went into effect in October. This law creates a mandatory minimum prison sentence for a person who has been convicted at least two times for soliciting another to commit prostitution. This means that human traffickers who force their victims into prostitution may face longer jail times. The law also states that those found guilty will be required to perform community service and their vehicles may be impounded.
Do Any of the New Laws Give More Rights to Victims?
HB 465 is also an important legal development because it allows judges to expunge the criminal record of a victim of human trafficking. This means that trafficking victims will not be haunted by an unfair criminal record. Other laws that were passed in the same session ensure that the identities and locations of human trafficking victims will be hidden from public records in order to protect their safety.
Contact Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins Today for More Information
These new laws aim to raise awareness for human trafficking victims, but they can be confusing for people who work in rest areas, airports, emergency rooms or other places that are required to post signs. If you are wondering how the new laws will affect your workplace, call us today. We are here to help ensure you understand how to fulfill these new legal requirements.