Arlington, VA— Today, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed SB 1188 and HB 1964 into law, 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 and buyers 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, advocacy groups, schools, and hospitals to advocate for the passage and enactment of Virginia’s first standalone sex trafficking statute. Nearly 1,000 constituents contacted their representatives to voice support for the passage of this crucial legislation.
- 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.
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.