Human Trafficking

Florida Statute § 787.06 states that the Florida Legislature found human trafficking “is a form of modern-day slavery,” and “while many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution or the sexual entertainment industry, trafficking also occurs in forms of labor exploitation, such as domestic servitude, restaurant work, janitorial work, sweatshop factory work, and migrant agricultural work.” Florida’s state law relating to human trafficking is broadly written, which means that people can be charged for this crime despite engaging in activity that does not actually constitute human trafficking.

Criminologists Amy Farrell and Rebecca Pfeffer used data from case records and qualitative interviews with police, prosecutors, and victim service providers in 12 counties as part of their research for “Policing Human Trafficking: Cultural Blinders and Organizational Barriers,” first published in the March 2014 issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. The authors found that “the culture of local police agencies and the perceptions of police officials about human trafficking do not support the identification of a broad range of human trafficking cases,” and that police focused largely on perceived sex trafficking of minors.

Defense Attorney for Human Trafficking in West Palm Beach, FL

Were you arrested or do you think that you could be under investigation for a human trafficking crime in South Florida? You should avoid making any statement to authorities until you can first contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A..

West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell defend clients accused of sex crimes in communities all over Palm Beach County, Broward County, and Miami-Dade County, such as Jupiter, Royal Palm Beach, Greenacres, Palm Beach Gardens, Riviera Beach, Lake Worth, and many others. Call (561) 557-8686 right now to have our attorneys review your case and discuss all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.


Overview of Human Trafficking in Palm Beach County


Back to top

Human Trafficking Charges in Florida

Florida Statute § 787.06(2)(d) establishes that human trafficking is defined as “transporting, soliciting, recruiting, harboring, providing, enticing, maintaining, or obtaining another person for the purpose of exploitation of that person.” Under Florida Statute § 787.06(3), any person who knowingly, or in reckless disregard of the facts, engages in human trafficking, 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, can face the following criminal charges, depending on the type of human trafficking activity: 

  • For labor or services of any child under the age of 18 — First-Degree Felony under Florida Statute § 787.06(3)(a)1. 
  • Using coercion for labor or services of an adult — First-Degree Felony under Florida Statute § 787.06(3)(a)2 
  • Using coercion for commercial sexual activity of an adult — First-Degree Felony under Florida Statute § 787.06(3)(b) 
  • For labor or services of any child under the age of 18 who is an unauthorized alien — First-Degree Felony under Florida Statute § 787.06(3)(c)1. 
  • Using coercion for labor or services of an adult who is an unauthorized alien — First-Degree Felony under Florida Statute § 787.06(3)(c)2. 
  • Using coercion for commercial sexual activity of an adult who is an unauthorized alien — First-Degree Felony under Florida Statute § 787.06(3)(d) 
  • For labor or services who does so by the transfer or transport of any child under the age of 18 from outside Florida to within Florida — First-Degree Felony under Florida Statute § 787.06(3)(e)1.  
  • Using coercion for labor or services who does so by the transfer or transport of an adult from outside Florida to within Florida — First-Degree Felony under Florida Statute § 787.06(3)(e)2. 
  • For commercial sexual activity who does so by the transfer or transport of any child under the age of 18 from outside Florida to within Florida — First-Degree Felony under Florida Statute § 787.06(3)(f)1.  
  • Using coercion for commercial sexual activity who does so by the transfer or transport of an adult from outside Florida to within Florida — First-Degree Felony under Florida Statute § 787.06(3)(f)2.  
  • For commercial sexual activity in which any child under the age of 18, or in which any person who is mentally defective or mentally incapacitated as those terms are defined in Florida Statute § 011(1), is involved — Life Felony under Florida Statute § 787.06(3)(g) 

Each one of the offenses listed above can be prosecuted as separate crimes. Under Florida Statute § 787.06(4)(a), a parent, legal guardian, or other person having custody or control of a minor can be charged with a life felony if he or she sells or otherwise transfers custody or control of such minor, or offers to sell or otherwise transfer custody of such minor, with knowledge or in reckless disregard of the fact that the minor will be subject to human trafficking.

Additionally, Florida Statute § 787.06(4)(b) makes it a second-degree felony for a person who, for the purpose of committing or facilitating an offense under this section, to permanently brand, or direct to be branded, a victim of a human trafficking offense. The phrase “permanently branded” is defined as “a mark on the individual’s body that, if it can be removed or repaired at all, can only be removed or repaired by surgical means, laser treatment, or other medical procedure.”


Back to top

Human Trafficking Penalties in Florida

A second-degree felony conviction in Florida is punishable by a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A conviction for a first-degree felony is also punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, but a person can be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

When a person is convicted of human trafficking for commercial sexual activity who does so by the transfer or transport of any child under the age of 18 from outside Florida to within Florida, Florida Statute § 787.06(3)(f)1. stipulates that the offense is punishable by a sentence of up to life in prison. Similarly, a conviction for a life felony will result in a sentence of life in prison with no eligibility for parole or probation as well as a fine of up to $15,000.


Back to top

Palm Beach County Human Trafficking Resources

Human Trafficking | Florida Department of Children and Families — Visit this section of the Florida Department of Children and Families website to learn more about human trafficking and the passage of the Florida Safe Harbor Act. You can also find information about what human trafficking is, human trafficking warning signs, and how to report human trafficking. You can also find links to the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, Florida Human Trafficking Task Force links, and various other publications and reports.

Florida | National Human Trafficking Hotline — The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a national anti-trafficking hotline for victims and survivors of human trafficking that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year in more than 200 languages. Visit this Florida section of the National Human Trafficking Hotline website to find various human trafficking statistics. You can also find information on upcoming events and submit tips.


Back to top

Find a Human Trafficking Defense Lawyer in West Palm Beach, FL

If you believe you might be under investigation or you were already arrested for an alleged human trafficking crime in South Florida, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents individuals in Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Wellington, Jupiter, and many other nearby areas in Palm Beach County, Broward County, and Miami-Dade County.

Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell are experienced criminal defense attorneys in West Palm Beach who can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. You can have our lawyers provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (561) 557-8686 or submit an online form to set up a free, confidential consultation.

Translate Our Site (En EspaƱol)
Tell Us About Your Case

All fields are required. Form use does not create an attorney-client relationship

Client Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Have To Say Read More Client Testimonials