St. Petersburg Human Trafficking Lawyer

 

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Human trafficking is referred to as present-day slavery. Traffickers manipulate, force, or coerce their victims into working illegally or performing commercial sex acts, also known as labor and sex trafficking. Trafficking abuses human rights and dignity, and recovery begins with justice. 

If you're a victim of human trafficking, you should contact a St. Petersburg human trafficking lawyer to help you with the complex legal process. A lawyer will advise you on the legal options available and help you build and file your case in court.

Causes of Human Trafficking

Traffickers prey on unfortunate circumstances, inexperience, unfamiliarity, and weaknesses since they know how to identify vulnerability. They use manipulation to control and persuade their victims by identifying a void they offer to fill. Vulnerability creates a chance for the traffickers to strike.

Here are some of the conditions that create vulnerability:

  • Poverty: For instance, if you're a single mother or a widow and you're struggling to provide for your family's basic needs, you're in a vulnerable position. A trafficker might take advantage of your situation and offer you a job to support your family. You might be willing to do whatever the trafficker asks if the job appears to be your only option.
  • Unemployment: Traffickers often prey on unemployed individuals and use deception to convince them to take a job in another country or city. The position may be enticing initially, but it's often different from the description. To keep the individuals from leaving, traffickers use tactics like confiscating the passports or IDs of their victims or making them feel obligated to work by paying for their shelter, food, transportation, and clothing.
  • Lack of Knowledge or Experience: Inexperience and lack of knowledge make people vulnerable to exploitation. A trafficker may take advantage of an immigrant who arrives in a foreign country and doesn't know their legal rights or understand the nation's laws. A teenager might accept an attractive job offer when approached by a trafficker.
  • Cultural Practices: In some societies, women and children are believed to be unequal to men, and it's widely acceptable to abuse and devalue them, creating a favorable opportunity for traffickers. For instance, some parents are willing to send their daughters into a world of exploitation by freely selling them. In cultures where early marriages for underage girls is practiced, it can be identified as human trafficking.

Effects of Human Trafficking on the Victim

Although human trafficking can affect the victims financially, psychologically, emotionally, and physically, a St. Petersburg human trafficking lawyer can help.

Here are the traumatic experiences of human trafficking that can negatively affect the victims' lives forever:

  • Mental Trauma: Victims can have devastating psychological effects after or during their trafficking experience. Most survivors undergo traumatic stress, depression, difficulty in relationships, anxiety, shame, guilt, fear, and other distressing forms of mental trauma.
  • Physical Trauma: Physical injuries are common among sexual abuse victims who experience physical abuse from their customers and traffickers. Victims of sex trafficking may be beaten, raped, and exposed to abuse for extended periods. Victims of forced labor often work in poor conditions for long hours, putting their health at risk.

Potential Defendants in Human Trafficking Cases

After California and Texas, Florida is rated as the third-worst state for human trafficking. Traffickers generate billions of dollars each year, trafficking approximately 20 to 40 million people worldwide.

Several possible defendants may be held accountable for their involvement in human trafficking, including:

  • Companies used to transport human trafficking victims
  • Warehouses, restaurants, and other businesses where human trafficking provides them with labor
  • Motels, hotels, or other businesses indirectly benefiting from offering rental services for rooms to be used for human trafficking
  • Organizations or persons that knowingly place children in homes known for exploitation where such incidences have been previously reported
  • Pimps and Johns involved directly in human trafficking
  • Online dating sites, web personals, and other websites that help facilitate human trafficking
  • Magazines, newspapers, and other print sources that enable human trafficking for cheap labor and sex

Human trafficking victims have several civil legal problems, depending on their circumstances and the trafficking condition. Some only require legal services for a limited or short period, but others have many legal issues that may last for several years. 

Legal issues commonly presented by human trafficking survivors include:

  • Family Law: Victims might require protection from the traffickers. A restraining order can be issued to the trafficker, ordering them to stay away from the victim or instructing them to return the victim's possessions. A victim may be required to seek a civil order while the criminal case is pending. Victims related to the traffickers may need help with divorce, separation, support, or child custody.
  • Civil Litigation: Some human trafficking victims can file a personal civil lawsuit against their traffickers. The civil case may include charges of labor violations, human trafficking, violation of contracts, and employment laws. Civil litigation usually helps victims access more significant damages and gain control of their lives, even without filing criminal charges.
  • Employment Law: Trafficking survivors may undergo violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which regulates minimum wage payment, overtime covered, and non-exempt workers. Victims may also experience discrimination or harassment in their workplace and need legal help to file a complaint. The Department of Labor (DOL) conducts investigations at workplaces for violations of the FLSA and may encounter trafficking victims in an inquiry.
  • Public Benefits Access: Trafficking victims are eligible to receive several locally and federally funded public benefits, but with legal help. The benefits available typically depend on their legal status, income, age, marital status, and criminal records. Monetary awards from civil suits or criminal restitution can make victims ineligible for public benefits.

Generally, human trafficking victims can be awarded economic, non-economic, and punitive damages in civil litigation. Apart from monetary compensation, civil lawsuits aim to discourage potential traffickers, empower other victims, and uncover perpetrators and other victims during investigations.

Let Our St. Petersburg Human Trafficking Lawyer Help

Many human trafficking survivors don't report the crime since they're afraid of their abuser retaliating. You can contact Dolman Law Group to talk to a human trafficking lawyer confidentially. Everything you discuss stays between the two of us. We'll strive to ensure you receive the justice you deserve. Call us to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

St Petersburg Office
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
Phone: (727) 472-3909

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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