On June 27, 2012, Governor Kasich signed the new Ohio Human Trafficking Law, House Bill 262 (HB 262), after it was passed by the Ohio General Assembly in mid-June. It becomes law on September 26, 2012.
Human trafficking—i.e., trafficking of persons, usually undocumented immigrants and often minors, who are forced into prostitution or slave labor—is a serious and growing problem in Ohio and across the nation. In fact, Toledo, Ohio, has been identified as a major transportation hub for human trafficking victims. HB 262 provides additional remedies and services for all victims of human trafficking, but also contains provisions specifically protecting or helping minor victims of human trafficking.
Key provisions of the new law include:
- Annual publication of statistical data on trafficking by the Ohio Attorney General (AG).
- Development of training for peace officers by the AG and the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.
- Development of posters providing information regarding National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline and other helpful information.
- Authorizes awards of victim compensation monies from Reparations Fund to minor trafficking victims who are minors, despite otherwise disqualifying prior criminal convictions or delinquency adjudications
- Creates the Victims of Human Trafficking Fund with money obtained from traffickers under forfeiture law to fund services for trafficking victims.
- Creates a civil cause of action for trafficking victims.
- Enhances criminal penalties for trafficking in persons and related obstruction of justice offenses.
- Authorizes juvenile court diversion and expungement of prostitution-related delinquency offenses for trafficking victims who were minors at the time of their violations.
- New juvenile court procedure for “expungement” of a conviction or delinquent-child adjudication for solicitation, loitering to engage in solicitation, or prostitution, resulting form that person’s having been a trafficking victim when s/he was a minor.
- May apply at any time (no waiting period) for an order of expungement.
Anyone with questions about HB 262 should feel free to contact attorney Michael Smalz of the Ohio Poverty Law Center at (614)824-2502 or firstname.lastname@example.org.