Hotels to be Held Accountable for Keeping Quiet about Sex Trafficking

A record-breaking 72 million people traveled to Orlando in 2017. While it’s safe to assume a big chunk of those visitors come for the mouse ears, rampant tourism has a dark side. As a top destination for leisure, Orlando takes third place for the number of calls per capita to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, according to statistics from the Polaris Project.

Much of the illegal sex trade thrives within the walls of the city’s over 400 hotels and motels. Typically, traffickers hold underage victims against their will and operate out of hotel rooms they rent for several nights a week, over and over again in much the same way they and their clients abuse victims. At times, hotel workers and guests suspect criminal activity; many keep quiet to avoid involvement. Though some hotels claim to refuse service to traffickers, hotel staff are under no obligation to report suspicious activity. The bills before the Florida Legislature seek to bring an end to the sanctuary they provide traffickers.

Anti-Human Trafficking Bills Gain Widespread Support

A series of anti-human trafficking bills calls for giving trafficking victims the legal right to sue the establishments in which they were abused. Hotels, motels, and other hospitality businesses would be required to take steps to prevent trafficking. Some of the legislation would order such businesses to train their employees to identify trafficking. If they suspect trafficking, employees would be required to report it. The legislation aims to hold establishments accountable for allowing trafficking to occur on their property by failing to notify authorities.

The bills have strong bipartisan support as well as the support of human trafficking survivors and advocates across the state. Survivors traveled to Tallahassee to tell the most intimate details of their lives as sex slaves to lawmakers and the public, to sway them to support the proposed legislation.

What Does This Mean for Hotel Owners and Staff?

If the proposed legislation passes, hotel owners and staff can face lawsuits for failing to report human trafficking. Though there are signs you can look out for that may identify trafficking, it is often difficult to make a judgment on whether trafficking is occurring right under your nose. As Florida steps up against human trafficking, many innocent parties are prone to being swept up by the criminal justice system.

Florida is a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking. Human trafficking is a felony offense which can lead to several years of imprisonment, steep fines, and other penalties at the state and federal level. As awareness about trafficking increases, it’s sensible that the number of suspects charged for participating in human trafficking will also rise. People who are mistakenly tied to human trafficking activity can face harsh setbacks in the criminal justice system. It’s crucial to work with a keen criminal defense lawyer in Orlando to protect your rights the moment you believe you are under investigation for trafficking. Call our firm at 407-228-3838 or contact us online to discuss your case at no cost to you. Our team is dedicated to helping you make the best decisions in your case.