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Bill would provide greater protections in judicial proceedings for human trafficking victims

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'This legislation will shield victims from unnecessarily reliving traumatic experiences, making it easier for them to come forward and help prosecutors secure convictions for their perpetrators'

Attorney General Ashley Moody

Attorney General Ashley Moody

Working with Attorney General Ashley Moody, two Republican lawmakers have filed legislation to expand protections for human trafficking victims in court proceedings.

SB 1208 by Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, and HB 1037 by Rep. Taylor Yarkosky, R-Clermont, provide greater protections in judicial proceedings for minors or victims of certain crimes, including human trafficking. The measures provide that depositions of such individuals will not be allowed absent a showing of good cause.

“As Attorney General, I work every day to stop human trafficking in our state, and this session I am advocating for legislation that will further protect victims, as well as help our law enforcement partners bring traffickers to justice,” said AG Moody. “This legislation will shield victims from unnecessarily reliving traumatic experiences, making it easier for them to come forward and help prosecutors secure convictions for their perpetrators.”

Sen. Burgess, a lawyer, said he is proud to work with Moody to protect survivors and will continue to support the AG’s efforts to end human trafficking.

Sen. Danny Burgess

Sen. Danny Burgess

“Trafficking victims have already gone through so much and they shouldn’t have to needlessly relive those events during court proceedings,” Burgess said.

The bills provide that in any criminal action where the defendant is charged with certain crimes, depositions are not allowed, without showing a good cause, of certain groups, including human trafficking victims, according to the AG’s Office. These victim/witness groups include anyone under the age of 18, anyone with intellectual disabilities or anyone who is a victim or witness. Offenses where this rule is applied include human trafficking, domestic violence, aggravated cyberstalking, custody offenses, human smuggling, lewd or lascivious offenses, child abuse, child neglect and traveling to meet a minor.

The bills require a written motion that a deposition is necessary to assist at trial to bypass the restrictions. The court may authorize the taking of a deposition if it is proven that the evidence sought is not reasonably available by any other means and the probative value of the testimony outweighs the potential harm to the person being deposed. The court would have to consider several factors when deciding whether to grant the deposition, including whether the victim or witness would suffer moderate psychological harm, and make specific written findings of fact for the basis of its ruling.

Rep. Taylor Yarkosky

Rep. Taylor Yarkosky

“Attorney General Moody leads the fight against human trafficking in Florida, and I’m excited to work with her to pass this vital legislation this session,” Rep. Yarkosky said. “I’m proud to introduce this measure in the Florida House, that protects victims of this heinous crime in court proceedings, where they wouldn’t have to provide traumatic testimony without good cause.”

To learn how to spot and report human trafficking, visit YouCanStopHT.com.

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