Human Trafficking and Slavery Laws

CURRENT TENNESSEE TRAFFICKING LAWS

Sex-Trafficking: Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-309, a person commits the offense of trafficking persons for sexual servitude when that person knowingly subjects or maintains another in sexual servitude or knowingly recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides or obtains by any means another person for sexual servitude. Trafficking for sexual servitude is a Class B felony.

Labor Trafficking: Pursuant to Tenn Code Ann. § 39-13-307, a person commits the offense of involuntary labor servitude who knowingly subjects, or attempts to subject another person to forced labor or services by threatening physical harm, physical restraint or threat, abuse to the legal process, destroying and/or confiscating identification or immigration documents, or by blackmail and financial harm. Involuntary servitude is a Class C felony, or a Class B felony if it results in serious bodily/ death, exceeds one year, or concerns ten or more victims.

Asset Seizure: Pursuant to Tenn Code Ann.§ 39-13-312 and T.C.A. § 39-11-703, Asset seizures allows law enforcement to forfeit any property subject to state forfeiture regulation and the proceeds be divided by the seizing agency (law enforcement), with the remaining proceeds placed in a fund for NGO anti-trafficking efforts.

Hotline Act: Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-312, the Hotline Act provides that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation maintain a hotline that serves as a resource for victims of human trafficking or for those who suspect an instance of human trafficking, and strongly encourages that this hotline be posted on a flyer throughout Tennessee in any commercial enterprise or business establishment licenses by the state.

Task Force – Advisory Committee: While this law has not been formalized yet, the practical application of it has been recognized by the policy department of Polaris Project, a leading anti-trafficking group in the U.S. The purpose of an anti-trafficking task force is to strengthen a state-wide collaborative atmosphere between law enforcement and the NGO community as well as facilitate continuous and clear communication between them.

Decriminalization of Minors: Pursuant to § Tenn. Code Ann. 39-13-513 and T.C.A. § 39-13-514, decriminalization protects minors in two ways: (1) A person suspected to be under 18 years of age shall be immune from prosecution of prostitution as a juvenile or adult and that person shall be provided with the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, (2) patronizing prostitution from a person younger than 18 is a Class E felony.

Prostitution Laws: State prostitution laws are also available for a prosecutor.
 

 NEW LAWS, effective July 1, 2013:

HB128/SB 1035 requires rather than permits that restitution to the victim be paid by the defendant for the offenses of patronizing prostitution, trafficking for commercial sex acts, solicitation of a minor for sexual purposes, and enlisting or paying a minor to engage in child pornography.

HB129/SB 0466 expands the offense of solicitation of a minor to include solicitations by adults, that if completed, would constitute trafficking for commercial sex acts, patronizing prostitution, promoting prostitution or aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor.

HB130/SB 1033 has three parts:

  • revises the prohibition and penalty provisions of this bill to make is a Class D felony offense for any person to promote travel for prostitution by selling or offering to sell travel services that the person knows to include travel for the purpose of engaging in what would be prostitution if occurring in the state. “Travel services” includes transportation by air, sea, road or rail, related ground transportation, hotel accommodations, or package tours, whether offered on a wholesale or retail basis.
  • adds the purchase of another person for the purpose of providing a commercial sex act to the types of conduct that constitute the criminal offense of trafficking a person for a commercial sex. Under present law, the offense of trafficking a person for a commercial sex is generally punished as a Class B felony, except where the victim of the offense is a child under 15 years of age, or where the offense occurs on the grounds or facilities or within 1,000 feet of a public or private school, secondary school, preschool, child care agency, public library, recreational center, or public park, in which case the offense is a Class A felony.
  • Substitutes the present law definition of “sexual servitude” for the present law definition of “commercial sex act”.

 

HB 358/ SB 1038 adds various sexual offenses to the organized crime definitions so that criminal offenses involving racketeering and unlawful debts can be applied to certain offenders.

HB416/SB1029 adds to the definition of criminal gang offenses trafficking for commercial sex acts and receipt, or intended receipt, of income, benefit, property, money or anything of value from the commission of trafficking for commercial sex acts.

HB520/ SB1032 raises the classification of the offense of promoting prostitution of a minor from a Class E felony to a Class A or B felony

HB521/SB 1030 disallows as a defense to offenses of soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor, aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor that the minor consented to the conduct constituting the offense.

HB709/SB 1028 disallows as a defense to offenses of soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor, aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor that the minor consented to the conduct constituting the offense.

HB710/SB 1034 provides that it is grounds for the termination of a person’s parental rights that the parent is convicted of trafficking for commercial sex acts and the parent’s child is one of the victims of the offense.

HB742/SB 1027 provides that victims 13 and under of trafficking for commercial sex acts and patronizing prostitution may, under certain circumstances, testify outside the courtroom by closed circuit television.

HB919/SB 1036 establishes human trafficking task force.

HB920/ SB 1031  removes as a defense ignorance or mistake of fact concerning the age of a minor to the offenses of patronizing prostitution and soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor.

HB1050/SB 1390 adds a person who physically possesses or controls a child to those from whose custody a child can be removed if the child is subject to an immediate threat to the child’s health or safety and there is no less drastic alternative to removal.

 

 ADDITIONAL SOURCES:

Analysis and Recommendations for Tennessee - http://sharedhope.org/PICframe3/analysis/PIC_AR_2013_TN.pdf 

Tennessee bill tracking including bill sponsors - http://sharedhope.org/what-we-do/bring-justice/bill-tracking/