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§ 97-3-54.4. Human Trafficking Act; Definitions

For the purposes of the Mississippi Human Trafficking Act the following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed herein unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

(a) "Act" or "this act" means the Mississippi Human Trafficking Act.

(b) "Actor" means a person who violates any of the provisions of Sections 97-3-54 through 97-3-54.4.

(c) "Blackmail" means obtaining property or things of value of another by threatening to (i) inflict bodily injury on anyone; or (ii) commit any other criminal offense.

(d) "Coerce" or "coercion" means:

(i) Causing or threatening to cause bodily harm to any person, physically restraining or confining any person, or threatening to physically restrain or confine any person;

(ii) Exposing or threatening to expose any fact or information or disseminating or threatening to disseminate any fact or information that would tend to subject a person to criminal or immigration proceedings, hatred, contempt or ridicule;

(iii) Destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating or possessing any actual or purported passport or other immigration document, or any other actual or purported government identification document of any person;

(iv) Providing a controlled substance to a person for the purpose of compelling the person to engage in labor or sexual servitude against the person's will;

(v) Causing or threatening to cause financial harm to any person or using financial control over any person;

(vi) Abusing or threatening to abuse a position of power, the law, or legal process;

(vii) Using blackmail;

(viii) Using an individual's personal services as payment or satisfaction of a real or purported debt when: 1. the reasonable value of the services is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt; 2. the length of the services is not limited and the nature of the services is not defined; 3. the principal amount of the debt does not reasonably reflect the value of the items or services for which the debt is incurred; or 4. the individual is prevented from acquiring accurate and timely information about the disposition of the debt; or

(ix) Using any scheme, plan or pattern of conduct intended to cause any person to believe that, if the person did not perform the labor or services, that the person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint.

(e) "Commercial sexual activity" means any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to, promised to, or received by any person.

(f) "Enterprise" means any individual, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, union or other legal entity, or any association or group of individuals associated in fact regardless of whether a legal entity has been formed pursuant to any state, federal or territorial law. It includes illicit as well as licit enterprises and governmental as well as other entities.

(g) "Financial harm" includes, but is not limited to, extortion as defined by Section 97-3-82, Mississippi Code of 1972, or violation of the usury law as defined by Title 75, Chapter 17, Mississippi Code of 1972.

(h) "Forced labor or services" means labor or services that are performed or provided by another person and are obtained or maintained through coercion.

(i) "Labor" means work of economic or financial value.

(j) "Maintain" means, in relation to labor or services, to secure continued performance thereof, regardless of any initial agreement on the part of the trafficked person to perform such labor or service.

(k) "Minor" means a person under the age of eighteen (18) years.

(l) "Obtain" means, in relation to labor or services, to secure performance thereof.

(m) "Pecuniary damages" means any of the following:

(i) The greater of the gross income or value to the defendant of the victim's labor or services, including sexual services, not reduced by the expense the defendant incurred as a result of maintaining the victim, or the value of the victim's labor or services calculated under the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 USCS Section 201 et seq., whichever is higher;

(ii) If it is not possible or in the best interest of the victim to compute a value under subparagraph (i) of this paragraph (m), the equivalent of the value of the victim's labor or services if the victim had provided labor or services that were subject to the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 USCS 201 et seq.;

(iii) Costs and expenses incurred by the victim as a result of the offense for:

1. Medical services;

2. Therapy or psychological counseling;

3. Temporary housing;

4. Transportation;

5. Childcare;

6. Physical and occupational therapy or rehabilitation;

7. Funeral, interment, and burial services;

reasonable attorney's fees and other legal costs; and

8. Other expenses incurred by the victim.

(n) "Serious harm" means harm, whether physical or nonphysical, including psychological, economic or reputational, to an individual that would compel a reasonable person in similar circumstances as the individual to perform or continue to perform labor or services to avoid incurring the harm.

(o) "Services" means an ongoing relationship between a person and the actor in which the person performs activities under the supervision of or for the benefit of the actor or a third party and includes, without limitation, commercial sexual activity, sexually explicit performances, or the production of sexually explicit materials.

(p) "Sexually explicit performance" means a live or public act or show intended to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires or appeal to the prurient interests of patrons.

(q) "Trafficked person" means a person subjected to the practices prohibited by this act regardless of whether a perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted, and is a term used interchangeably with the terms "victim," "victim of trafficking" and "trafficking victim."

(r) "Venture" means any group of two (2) or more individuals associated in fact, whether or not a legal entity.

(s) "Sexually oriented material" shall have the meaning ascribed in Section 97-5-27, Mississippi Code of 1972. SOURCES: Laws, 2006, ch. 583, § 6; Laws, 2013, ch. 543, § 4; Laws, 2016, ch. 362, § 4, eff from and after passage (approved Apr. 6, 2016.)

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Local Government
Phil Bryant
Phil Bryant
January 10, 2012 -
200 South Lamar, Suite 800, Jackson, MS, 39201