Human trafficking; new felonies created, penalties. (SB710)

Introduced By

Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke) with support from co-patrons Del. Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church), and Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Trafficking in persons; penalties. Creates new felonies for trafficking in persons for forced labor or sexual servitude and adds the new felonies as a predicate criminal act under the criminal gang statute, as racketeering crimes, adds their investigation to the functions of a multijurisdiction grand jury, and also allows seizure and forfeiture of property used in committing such felonies. The new felonies and the existing felony of receiving money for procuring a person are added to the rape shield statute. The bill allows a petition for a child in need of services to be substituted for a delinquency petition for certain minors arrested for prostitution, disallows the release of certain victim information, specifies law-enforcement protocol for victims who may not be legally present, requires persons convicted of the new felonies to pay restitution that compensates for the victim's labor, and creates a civil action for trafficked persons. The Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security is required to convene an anti-trafficking committee and the Virginia Prevention of Human Trafficking Victim Fund is created, which will be administered by the Department of Criminal Justice Services. Read the Bill »


02/03/2015: Merged into SB1188


12/02/2014Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/14/15 15100898D
12/02/2014Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
12/03/2014Impact statement from VCSC (SB710)
01/26/2015Impact statement from DPB (SB710)
01/28/2015Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (14-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
01/28/2015Committee substitute printed 15104515D-S1
01/28/2015Rereferred to Finance
01/30/2015Impact statement from VCSC (SB710S1)
02/03/2015Incorporated by Finance (SB1188-Obenshain) (13-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)


Safer Virginia writes:

Like other sections of Virginia code, this bill establishes certain crimes as violent based on the crime alone, with no assessment of risk to public safety by the convicted person. Categorizing crimes as violent is valueless in determining public safety risk. Assessing risk posed by the convicted citizen is far more useful. Existing laws are adequate to address the very low incidence (11 in two years as noted in the impact statement) of the crimes affected by this legislation.

The proposal to create another layer of government in an anti-trafficking committee, a new victim’s fund, and several modifications to existing procedures is burdensome to taxpayers without evidence that there is commensurate public safety benefit.

The overwhelming majority of exploited children have been sexually abused prior to trafficking. This bill fails to address to primary issue, seeking instead to demand limited taxpayer funds to treat the symptom, not the cause.

What’s more, between 70–90 percent of commercially sexually exploited children in the United States have been sexually abused prior to entering ‘the life’ and are runaways with a history of complex trauma that usually begins with a dysfunctional or neglectful family.
While the United States has spent almost $1.2 billion fighting sex trafficking globally, much of those funds have been misallocated on advertising and anti-trafficking campaigns rather than spent on actual evidence-based research and rescue operations.
Gummow, Jodie. "10 Surprising and Counterintuitive Facts About Child Sex Trafficking." Alternet. Internet Media Institute, 2 Nov. 2013. Web. 1 Jan. 2015.