Florida Civil Law for Human Trafficking

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Florida Law Allowing For Civil Lawsuits for Human Trafficking (Prostitution) 

The following is two Florida statutes that allow for civil actions in cases of forced prostitution or human trafficking. A more detailed analysis of these statutes is necessary, however this is a good place to start. Florida law is not as victim friendly as other states or federal law. A recent bill introduced to hold hotels and other business responsible for human trafficking was defeated in the Florida legislature. Obviously, Florida has a large hotel industry, including Disney, who lobbied hard against such legislation. Federal law still provides further avenues for survivors to pursue, including the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 (TVPRA).  

FLA. STAT. ANN. § 772.104 (2011). CIVIL CAUSE OF ACTION   

   (1)Any person who proves by clear and convincing evidence that he or she has been injured by reason of any violation of the provisions of s. 772.103 shall have a cause of action for threefold the actual damages sustained and, in any such action, is entitled to minimum damages in the amount of $ 200, and reasonable attorney's fees and court costs in the trial and appellate courts.

   (2)As an alternative to recovery under subsection (1), any person who proves by clear and convincing evidence that he or she has been injured by reason of any violation of the provisions of s. 772.103 due to sex trafficking or human trafficking shall have a cause of action for threefold the amount gained from the sex trafficking or human trafficking and in any such action is entitled to minimum damages in the amount of $ 200 and reasonable attorney's fees and court costs in the trial and appellate courts.

   (3)In no event shall punitive damages be awarded under this section. The defendant shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorney's fees and court costs in the trial and appellate courts upon a finding that the claimant raised a claim which was without substantial fact or legal support. In awarding attorney's fees and costs under this section, the court shall not consider the ability of the opposing party to pay such fees and costs. Nothing under this section shall be interpreted as limiting any right to recover attorney's fees or costs provided under other provisions of law.

FLA. STAT. ANN. § 796.09 (2011). COERCION; CIVIL CAUSE OF ACTION;
EVIDENCE; DEFENSE; ATTORNEY’S FEES

   (1) A person has a cause of action for compensatory and punitive damages against:

(a) A person who coerced that person into prostitution;
(b) A person who coerces that person to remain in prostitution; or
(c) A person who uses coercion to collect or receive any part of that person's earnings
derived from prostitution.

   (2) As used in this section, the term “prostitution” has the same meaning as in s. 796.07.

   (3) As used in this section, the term “coercion” means any practice of domination, restraint, or inducement for the purpose of or with the reasonably foreseeable effect of causing another person to engage in or remain in prostitution or to relinquish earnings derived from prostitution, and includes, but is not limited to:

(a) Physical force or threats of physical force.
(b) Physical or mental torture.
(c) Kidnapping.
(d) Blackmail.
(e) Extortion or claims of indebtedness.
(f) Threat of legal complaint or report of delinquency.
(g) Threat to interfere with parental rights or responsibilities, whether by judicial or
administrative action or otherwise.
(h) Promise of legal benefit.
(i) Promise of greater financial rewards.
(j) Promise of marriage.
(k) Restraint of speech or communication with others.
(l) Exploitation of a condition of developmental disability, cognitive limitation, affective
disorder, or substance dependency.
(m) Exploitation of victimization by sexual abuse.
(n) Exploitation of pornographic performance.
(o) Exploitation of human needs for food, shelter, safety, or affection.

   (4) In the course of litigation under this section, any transaction about which a plaintiff testifies or produces evidence does not subject such plaintiff to criminal prosecution or any penalty or forfeiture. Further, any testimony or evidence, documentary or otherwise, or information directly or indirectly derived from such testimony or evidence which is given or produced by a plaintiff or a witness for a plaintiff shall not be used against these persons in any other investigation or proceeding. Such testimony or evidence, however, may be used against a plaintiff or a witness for a plaintiff upon any criminal investigation or proceeding for perjury committed while giving such testimony or producing such evidence.

   (5) It does not constitute a defense to a complaint under this section that:

(a) The plaintiff was paid or otherwise compensated for acts of prostitution;
(b) The plaintiff engaged in acts of prostitution prior to any involvement with the
defendant; or
(c) The plaintiff made no attempt to escape, flee, or otherwise terminate contact with the
defendant.

   (6) Evidence of convictions for prostitution or prostitution-related offenses are inadmissible in a proceeding brought under this section for purposes of attacking the plaintiff's credibility.

   (7) In any action brought under this section, the court, in its discretion, may award prevailing plaintiffs reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

If You Have Questions Regarding Your Rights as a Survivor of Human Trafficking, Rape or Sexual Abuse

Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.

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