Wednesday, November 19, 2014

U.S. Court of Appeals Blocks Enforcement of California Anti-Sex Trafficking Law

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled to block enforcement of proposition 35, a measure meant to stem the tide of sex trafficking in California.  The measure was overwhelmingly passed by 80 percent of CA voters in 2012.  The measure required the following:

  • An increased prison term sentence equal to the federal sentencing standards for anyone convicted of trafficking humans for the purpose of sexual exploitation
  • Requiring sex traffickers to register as sex offenders for life
  • Requiring all registered sex offenders to disclose their internet account information (such as Twitter, Facebook, email and chat room accounts)
  • Mandating human trafficking training for law enforcement
  • Providing victims of human traffic offenses to have the same protection as is provided under California rape shield law
  • Removing the requirement to prove "force, fraud or coercion" as an element of the crime of trafficking in human beings for sexual purposes
 The U.S. Court of Appeal has ruled that the provision requiring sex offenders to divulge their internet account information violates the free speech rights of sex offenders because it prevents the ability to provide anonymous comments and allows police to disclose their online identities to the public.  The ruling by a three judge appellate panel upholds a prior ruling by a District Court Judge. The courts have held that the State of California does have a legitimate state interest in quelling sexual exploitation but, has less intrusive means available to do so.

The ruling is a setback to the many supporters of the CA law.  California Attorney General, Kamala Harris, says that she will review the ruling and decide on what further actions to take.  It is possible that the law could be upheld and enforced as to the other provisions.

Additional Resources:

PDF Copy of Court Ruling on CA Anti-Sex Trafficking Law