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Florida increases efforts to stop sex trafficking

Recently, Florida's Attorney General -- Pam Bondi -- announced that Florida would be making a concerted effort to track down and arrest those involved in sex trafficking. The announcement comes after a new report ranks Florida as the number three desistination in the country for sex traffickers.

The human trafficking trade is estimated to make $35 billion a year in the United States. Officials claim that often people are held against their will through use of force or threats and forced to become prostitutes. In order to capture those participating in sex trafficking, Attorney General Bondi announced that police officers throughout the state would receive training on how to recognize victims of human trafficking.

Furthermore, local counties have announced that they will be creating taskforces specifically looking for and arresting those perpetrating sexual misconduct. They will then be tried under a law -- passed in January 2012 -- which mirrors federal sex trafficking laws. Under this law, people may have to forfeit property in addition to prison time if they are found guilty of sex trafficking.

With this increased enforcement, might come overly zealous prosecution. While Florida prosecutors may want to protect unwilling individuals from the sex trade, they need to uphold the constitutional rights of those who have been charged with sex trafficking and other types of sex crimes.

In the media, it may be popular to highlight stories involving the arrest of those accused of sex crimes. However, this exposure can make it difficult for these people to get a fair criminal trial. Again, this extra media attention and the zealous prosecution make it very important for those accused of sex crimes to have an aggressive criminal defense. Without understanding their rights and defense options, people may feel pressured to negotiate with prosecutors and plead guilty. While a plea deal may be the best solution in some cases, it is not the only option.

Source: Bradenton Herald, "Fight against human trafficking ramps up in Florida, Manatee County," June 9, 2013

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