Pennsylvania bill gets tougher on human trafficking

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced legislation to toughen penalties in human trafficking cases.

Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) said his proposal, House Bill 2029, would increase penalties on people convicted of trafficking someone into sex slavery, and on people who patronize a victim of sexual trafficking. The bill would upgrade the crimes from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony.

People who patronize trafficking victims would face an increased fine from $500 to between $1,000 and $30,000.

If the victim is a minor, the fine would be a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of $100,000, and the offender would have to register as a sex offender.

The measure also increases fines for repeatedly patronizing prostitutes. A second-time offender would face an additional fine of $1,000 to $20,000, and a third-time offender face an additional fine of $5,000 to $30,000. For a fourth offense, the fine is at least $10,000 and up to $50,000.

Those caught patronizing a prostitute would also have to register as a sex offender.

Grove said his bill also would give prosecutors the ability to use electronic surveillance to collect evidence, rescue victims, and prosecute traffickers.

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