Legal Statutes


The United States is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor, debt bondage, document servitude, and sex trafficking.  The majority of U.S. citizen trafficked persons, both adults and children, are trafficked into the commercial sex industry. 

New York State has responded to this dilemma by passing two ground-breaking statutes.  These statutes continue to be the country's most aggressive legislation.  The first, New York's Human Trafficking Law, was signed into law on June 6, 2007.  This law is unique in that it imposes substantial penalties on traffickers for the use of subtle yet powerful manipulation tactics. The statute also targets buyers of sex in addition to traffickers.

The second law, enacted in 2008, is called the Safe Harbor Act.  This law mandates that children arrested on prostitution charges be treated as victims and their cases be handled under the Persons In Need of Supervision sections of the Family Court Act. 

The New York State anti-trafficking law takes a multidisciplinary approach to ending human trafficking. The law takes into account the notion that often those considered perpetrators of prostitution are in fact victims of human trafficking.  Instead of facing arrest and deportation, the law recognizes that trafficked persons must be given the medical, legal, and social help they need. 

The New York State anti-trafficking law seeks to employ three distinct strategies:

Prosecution

  • Establishing new crimes that specify the methods of inducement and control used by traffickers to take advantage of their victims

Protection

  • Providing services for undocumented victims and the medical and social services all victims may need

Prevention       

  • Coordinating and collaborating with state and national agencies to help put an end to the crime


New York State Human Trafficking Statutes

Penal Law §230.34 Sex Trafficking

A person is guilty of sex trafficking if he or she intentionally advances or profits from prostitution by:

  1. Unlawfully providing to a person who is patronized, with intent to impair said person's judgment:
    1. a narcotic drug or a narcotic preparation;
    2. concentrated cannabis as defined in paragraph (a) of subdivision 4 of section 3302 of the public health law;
    3. methadone; or
    4. gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) or flunitrazepan, also known as Rohypnol;
  1. Making material false statements, misstatements, or omissions to induce or maintain the person being patronized to engage in or continue to engage in prostitution activity;
  2. Withholding, destroying, or confiscating any actual or purported passport, immigration document, or any other actual or purported government identification document of another person with intent to impair said person's freedom of movement; provided, however, that this subdivision shall not apply to an attempt to correct a social security administration record or immigration agency record in accordance with any local, state, or federal agency requirement, where such attempt is not made for the purpose of any express or implied threat;
  3. Requiring that prostitution be performed to retire, repay, or service a real or purported debt;
  4. Using force or engaging in any scheme, plan, or pattern to compel or induce the person being patronized to engage in or continue to engage in prostitution activity by means of instilling a fear in the person being patronized that, if the demand is not complied with, the actor or another will do one or more of the following:
    1. cause physical injury, serious physical injury, or death to a person; or
    2. cause damage to property, other than the property of the actor; or
    3. engage in other conduct constituting a felony or unlawful imprisonment in the second degree in violation of section 135.05 of this chapter; or
    4. accuse some person of a crime or cause criminal charges or deportation proceedings to be instituted against some person; provided, however, that it shall be an affirmative defense to this subdivision that the defendant reasonably believed the threatened charge to be true and that his or her sole purpose was to compel or induce the victim to take reasonable action to make good the wrong which was the subject of such threatened charge; or
    5. expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule; or
    6. testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another's legal claim or defense; or
    7. use or abuse his or her position as a public servant by performing some act within or related to his or her official duties, or by failing or refusing to perform an official duty, in such manner as to affect some person adversely; or
    8. perform any other act which would not in itself materially benefit the actor but which is calculated to harm the person who is patronized materially with respect to his or her health, safety, or immigration status.

Sex trafficking is a class B felony.

Penal Law §135.35 Labor Trafficking

A person is guilty of labor trafficking if he or she compels or induces another to engage in labor or recruits, entices, harbors, or transports such other person by means of intentionally:

  1. Unlawfully providing a controlled substance to such person with intent to impair said person's judgment;
  2. Requiring that the labor be performed to retire, repay, or service a real or purported debt that the actor has caused by a systematic ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud such person;
  3. Withholding, destroying, or confiscating any actual or purported passport, immigration document, or any other actual or purported government identification document, of another person with intent to impair said person's freedom of movement; provided, however, that this subdivision shall not apply to an attempt to correct a social security administration record or immigration agency record in accordance with any local, state, or federal agency requirement, where such attempt is not made for the purpose of any express or implied threat;
  4. Using force or engaging in any scheme, plan or pattern to compel or induce such person to engage in or continue to engage in labor activity by means of instilling a fear in such person that, if the demand is not complied with, the actor or another will do one or more of the following:
    1. cause physical injury, serious physical injury, or death to a person; or
    2. cause damage to property, other than the property of the actor; or
    3. engage in other conduct constituting a felony or unlawful imprisonment in the second degree in violation of section 135.05 of this chapter; or
    4. accuse some person of a crime or cause criminal charges or deportation proceedings to be instituted against such person; provided, however, that it shall be an  affirmative defense to this subdivision that the defendant reasonably believed the threatened charge to be true and that his or her sole purpose was to compel or induce the victim to take reasonable action to make good the wrong which was the subject of such threatened charge; or
    5. expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule; or
    6. testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another's legal claim or defense; or
    7. use or abuse his or her position as a public servant by performing some act within or related to his or her official duties, or by failing or refusing to perform an official duty, in such manner as to affect some person adversely.

Labor trafficking is a class D felony.

Penal Law §230.25 Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree

A person is guilty of promoting prostitution in the third degree when he knowingly:

  1. Advances or profits from prostitution by managing, supervising, controlling, or owning, either alone or in association with others, a house of prostitution or a prostitution business or enterprise involving prostitution activity by two or more people who have been prostituted, or a business that sells travel-related services knowing that such services include or are intended to facilitate travel for the purpose of patronizing a prostitute, including to a foreign jurisdiction and regardless of the legality of prostitution in said foreign jurisdiction; or
  2. Advances or profits from the prostitution of a person less than nineteen years old.

Promoting prostitution in the third degree is a class D felony.

Article 10-D Social Services Law §483-bb Services for Victims of Human Trafficking

  1. The office of temporary and disability assistance may coordinate with and assist law enforcement agencies and district attorney's offices to access appropriate services for human trafficking victims.
  2. In providing such assistance, the office of temporary and disability assistance  may  enter  into  contracts  with  non-government organizations  for  providing services to pre-certified victims of human trafficking as defined in subdivision (b) of section 483-aa of this article, insofar as funds are available for that purpose. Such services may include, but are not limited to, case management, emergency temporary housing, health care, mental health counseling, drug addiction screening and treatment, language interpretation and translation services, English  language instruction, job training and placement assistance, post-employment services for job retention, and services to assist the individual and any of his or her family members to establish a permanent residence in New York state or the United States. Nothing in this section shall preclude the office of temporary and disability assistance, or any local social services district, from providing human trafficking victims who are United States citizens or human trafficking victims who meet the criteria pursuant  to section 122 of this chapter with any benefits or services for which they otherwise may be eligible.

Social Services Law §483-cc Confirmation as a Victim of Human Trafficking

  1. As soon as practicable after a first encounter with a person who reasonably appears to a law enforcement agency to be a human trafficking victim, that agency or office shall notify the office of temporary and disability assistance and the division of criminal justice services that such person may be eligible for services under this article.
  2. Upon receipt of such a notification, the division of criminal justice services, in consultation with the office of temporary and disability assistance and the referring agency or office, shall make a preliminary assessment of whether such victim or possible victim appears to meet the criteria for certification as a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons as defined in section 7105 of title 22 of the United States Code (Trafficking Victims Protection) or appears to be otherwise eligible for any federal, state, or local benefits and services. If it is determined that the trafficked person appears to meet such criteria, the office of temporary and disability assistance shall report the finding to the victim and the referring law enforcement agency and may assist that agency or office in having such trafficked person receive services from a case management provider who may be under contract with the office of temporary and disability assistance, or from any other available source. If the victim or possible victim is under the age of eighteen, the office of temporary and disability assistance shall also notify the local department of social services in the county where the child was found.
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