Arlington, VA—Today the Virginia General Assembly unanimously passed legislation which would establish Virginia’s first standalone sex trafficking law. Currently, Virginia is the only state in the nation without a human trafficking law. Without a sex trafficking law in place, Virginia law enforcement and prosecutors have had to rely on substitute laws and makeshift strategies to address sex trafficking in Virginia. If enacted, the new law will establish the comprehensive response needed to appropriately respond to this egregious crime by providing stronger penalties for perpetrators and increasing protections for child victims.
This landmark legislative victory was championed by Chief Patron Delegate Timothy Hugo (HB 1964) and Chief Patron Senator Mark Obenshain (SB 1188) and supported by the Kids Are Not For Sale in Virginia Coalition, a collective effort between Virginia law enforcement, prosecutors, advocacy groups, schools, and hospitals to advocate for the passage and enactment of Virginia’s first standalone sex trafficking statute. Nearly 700 Virginia constituents contacted their representatives to voice support for the passage of this crucial legislation.
The six legislators appointed to the Conference Committee, Delegates Hugo, Robert B. Bell, Watts, and Senators Obenshain, Howell, and McDougle, worked hard to retain the protections and penalties from the House bill during the reconciliation of the House and Senate bills so that law enforcement and prosecutors would have the tools they need to combat sex trafficking in Virginia.
- 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 is currently not criminalized in Virginia.
Kids are Not For Sale Coalition Media Contact
Director of Communications, Shared Hope International
ABOUT THE KIDS ARE NOT FOR SALE IN VA COALTION: The coalition was formed to advocate for the passage and enactment of a sex trafficking statute in Virginia in 2015. Members include: Shared Hope International, Richmond Justice Initiative, Virginia Beach Justice Initiative, Regent School of Law Center for Global Justice, Anastasis International, Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Initiative, Central Virginia Justice Initiative, Courtney’s House, Vessels of Mercy International, The Gray Haven, Virginia Catholic Conference, Bon Secours Virginia Health Systems, Release Me International, Virginia Trucking Association, The Family Foundation, Straight Street, and Youth for Tomorrow.