Rhode Island Strengthens Sex Trafficking Laws

As reported by Amanda Milkovits in the April 2, 2015 edition of the Providence Journal, the Rhode Island House recently passed a bill to increase the penalties for people convicted of sex trafficking minors. The bill increased the maximum punishment to fifty (50) years imprisonment and/or a $40,000 fine. The bill will now go before the Senate.

Pursuant to current Rhode Island General Law 11-67-6, any person who:

(1) Recruits, employs, entices, solicits, isolates, harbors, transports, provides, persuades, obtains, or maintains, or so attempts, any minor for the purposes of commercial sex acts; or

(2) Sells or purchases a minor for the purposes of commercial sex acts; or

(3) Benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture which has engaged in an act described in subdivision (1) or (2); is committing sex trafficking of a minor and shall be guilty of a felony.

(1) "Commercial sex act" means any sex act or sexually explicit performance on account of which anything of value is given, promised to, or received, directly or indirectly, by any person.

(2) "Minor" refers to any natural person under eighteen (18) years of age.

(3) "Person" includes an individual, corporation, partnership, association, a government body, a municipal corporation, or any other legal entity.

(4) "Sex act" means sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, anal intercourse, and digital intrusion or intrusion by any object into the genital opening or anal opening of another person's body or the stimulation by hand of another's genitals for the purposes of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of either person.

(5) "Sexually-explicit performance" means an act or show, intended to arouse, satisfy the sexual desires of, or appeal to the prurient interests of patrons or viewers, whether public or private, live, photographed, recorded, or videotaped.

The current penalties if convicted include not more than forty (40) years imprisonment or a fine of up to forty thousand dollars ($40,000), or both.

The current law also punishes people who obstruct, or attempt to obstruct, or in any way interferes with or prevents the enforcement of the statue. The current penalty for obstruction is not more than twenty (20) years imprisonment, or a fine of up to twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or both. The new bill also increases the maximum punishment for obstruction to thirty-five (35) years imprisonment.

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