Home Virginia enacts first standalone sex trafficking law

Virginia enacts first standalone sex trafficking law


constitutionVirginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed HB 1964 and SB 1188 into law on Friday, officially establishing Virginia’s first standalone sex trafficking law.

“This is a landmark legislative victory for Virginia which until today, was the only state in the nation without a human trafficking law,” Linda Smith, President and Founder of Shared Hope International said.  “Traffickers can no longer slip through the cracks left by the absence of a specific sex trafficking law criminalizing their behavior, and our kids are safer for it.”

These crucial bills were championed by Chief Patron Delegate Timothy Hugo (HB 1964) and Chief Patron Senator Mark Obenshain (SB 1188). Shared Hope International convened and led the Kids Are Not For Sale in Virginia Coalition, a collective effort between Virginia law enforcement, prosecutors, service providers, advocacy groups, schools, and hospitals to advocate for the passage and enactment of Virginia’s first standalone sex trafficking statute.

Nearly 1,000 constituents signed onto Kids Are Not For Sale in VA Coalition petitions to voice support for the passage of this crucial legislation.

This law:

  • Clearly defines and establishes the offense of sex trafficking.
  • Establishes penalties that reflect the seriousness of the offense.
  • Specifically criminalizes child sex trafficking as a Class 3 felony without requiring prosecutors prove that force, intimidation or deception was used to cause the minor to engage in commercial sexual conduct given the way the traffickers recruit minors by preying on their vulnerability and trust.
  • Assists in protecting and properly identifying sex trafficking victims.
  • Closes a loophole in Virginia’s existing laws by criminalizing the recruitment of minors and adults for commercial sex—conduct which was not criminalized under Virginia law.



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