North Dakota State's Attorney: Human Trafficking Laws Have Complicated Prostitution Issue


Yesterday I wrote a post wondering if we could undermine the black market human trafficking trade by turning willing prostitution into legal commerce. The idea being that we could take away business from the thugs and criminals who traffic in sex slaves and turn it over to business people who operate out in the open with transparency and accountability.

My post prompted this interesting email from a State’s Attorney and SAB reader, who says the state’s new human trafficking laws (and the politics surrounding the issue, particularly from Senator Heidi Heitkamp) are making the problem worse, not better.

I present the full email below:

There is actually another story within your prostitution post dealing with politics and PR. About 3 sessions or so ago the legislature put that Human Trafficking law in place, making it a AA felony to sex traffic a minor and an A felony to sex traffic an adult.

Here is that new chapter:

In that new law here is what sex trafficking means:

5. “Sex trafficking” means the promotion, recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring,
enticement, provision, obtaining, or receipt of a person by any means, whether a
United States citizen or foreign national, for the purpose of:
a. Causing the person or another to engage in sexual acts or sexual conduct in

violation of chapter 12.1-20; or
b. Violating chapter 12.1-27.1, 12.1-27.2, or 12.1-29.

Now look at 5(b)’s inclusion of 12.1-29 – That is the prostitution chapter wherein normal prostitution is a B misdemeanor:

12.1-29-03. Prostitution.
An individual is guilty of prostitution, a class B misdemeanor, if the individual:
1. Is an inmate of a house of prostitution or is otherwise engaged in sexual activity as a
2. Solicits another person with the intention of being hired to engage in sexual activity; or
3. Agrees to engage in sexual activity with another for money or other items of pecuniary

Since you can’t solicit sex from another, or pay for sex under this section without necessarily “promoting” or “enticing” the sex act as defined in the human trafficking law, what the legislature did was convert a number of routine prostitution cases to Human Trafficking Class A felonies.

I have seen some of the “human trafficking” stories in our media when they have been charged out, because human trafficking gets the headlines, and they appear to be just the same old prostitution under a new name. Sen Heitkamp needs close watching on this topic because she is running around the state on her high horse talking about human trafficking all the time, its trendy for her to do so I guess.

However, the net on those cases is wider than the creeps that are bringing in young girls or immigrant girls to the Bakken to service oil workers, and can include regular prostitution cases depending on how the cases get charged.

By the way, if you look at [the] whole prostitution chapter, you will see that it has always been a felony to traffic hookers in ND, it just didn’t have the scary headline grabbing name of “Human Trafficking”.

We need our PR charades I guess…