Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 18A. Human Trafficking.


§ 22–1831. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process” means the use or threatened use of law or legal process, whether administrative, civil, or criminal, in any manner or for any purpose for which the law was not designed, to exert pressure on another person to cause that person to take some action or refrain from taking some action.

(2) “Business” means any corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, organization, holding company, joint stock, trust, and any legal entity through which business is conducted.

(3) “Coercion” means any one of, or a combination of, the following:

(A) Force, threats of force, physical restraint, or threats of physical restraint;

(B) Serious harm or threats of serious harm;

(C) The abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process;

(D) Fraud or deception;

(E) Any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that if that person did not perform labor or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint;

(F) Facilitating or controlling a person’s access to an addictive or controlled substance or restricting a person’s access to prescription medication; or

(G) Knowingly participating in conduct with the intent to cause a person to believe that he or she is the property of a person or business and that would cause a reasonable person in that person’s circumstances to believe that he or she is the property of a person or business.

(4) “Commercial sex act” means any sexual act or sexual contact on account of which or for which anything of value is given to, promised to, or received by any person. The term “commercial sex act” includes a violation of § 22-2701, § 22-2704, §§ 22-2705 to 22-2712, §§ 22-2713 to 22-2720, and § 22-2722.

(5) “Debt bondage” means the status or condition of a person who provides labor, services, or commercial sex acts, for a real or alleged debt, where:

(A) The value of the labor, services, or commercial sex acts, as reasonably assessed, is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt;

(B) The length and nature of the labor, services, or commercial sex acts are not respectively limited and defined; or

(C) The amount of the debt does not reasonably reflect the value of the items or services for which the debt was incurred.

(6) “Labor” means work that has economic or financial value.

(7) “Serious harm” means any harm, whether physical or nonphysical, including psychological, financial, or reputational harm, that is sufficiently serious, under all the surrounding circumstances, to compel a reasonable person of the same background and in the same circumstances to perform or to continue to perform labor, services, or commercial sex acts to avoid incurring that harm.

(8) “Services” means legal or illegal duties or work done for another, whether or not compensated.

(9) “Sexual act” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 22-3001(8).

(10) “Sexual contact” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 22-3001(9).

(11) “Venture” means any group of 2 or more individuals associated in fact, whether or not a legal entity.


(Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 101, 57 DCR 5405.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 23-1331.


§ 22–1832. Forced labor.

(a) It is unlawful for an individual or a business knowingly to use coercion to cause a person to provide labor or services.

(b) It is unlawful for an individual or a business knowingly to place or keep any person in debt bondage.


(Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 102, 57 DCR 5405.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 14-311, § 22-1836, § 22-1837, and § 22-1840.


§ 22–1833. Trafficking in labor or commercial sex acts.

It is unlawful for an individual or a business to recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, or maintain by any means a person, knowing, or in reckless disregard of the fact that:

(1) Coercion will be used or is being used to cause the person to provide labor or services or to engage in a commercial sex act; or

(2) The person is being placed or will be placed or kept in debt bondage.


(Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 103, 57 DCR 5405.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 14-311, § 22-1836, § 22-1837, § 22-1839, § 22-1840, and § 23-113.


§ 22–1834. Sex trafficking of children.

(a) It is unlawful for an individual or a business knowingly to recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, or maintain by any means a person who will be caused as a result to engage in a commercial sex act knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the person has not attained the age of 18 years.

(b) In a prosecution under subsection (a) of this section in which the defendant had a reasonable opportunity to observe the person recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, or maintained, the government need not prove that the defendant knew that the person had not attained the age of 18 years.


(Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 104, 57 DCR 5405.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 14-311, § 22-1836, § 22-1837, § 22-1839, § 22-1840, § 22-3020.51, and § 23-113.


§ 22–1835. Unlawful conduct with respect to documents in furtherance of human trafficking.

It is unlawful for an individual or business knowingly to destroy, conceal, remove, confiscate, or possess any actual or purported government identification document, including a passport or other immigration document, or any other actual or purported document, of any person to prevent or restrict, or attempt to prevent or restrict, without lawful authority, the person’s liberty to move or travel in order to maintain the labor or services of that person.


(Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 105, 57 DCR 5405.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 14-311, § 22-1836, § 22-1837, and § 22-1840.


§ 22–1836. Benefitting financially from human trafficking.

It is unlawful for an individual or business knowingly to benefit, financially or by receiving anything of value, from voluntarily participating in a venture which has engaged in any act in violation of § 22-1832, § 22-1833, § 22-1834, or § 22-1835, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the venture has engaged in the violation.


(Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 106, 57 DCR 5405.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 14-311, § 22-1837, § 22-1839, and § 22-1840.


§ 22–1837. Penalties.

(a)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, whoever violates § 22-1832, § 22-1833, or § 22-1834 shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both.

(2) Whoever violates sections § 22-1832, § 22-1833, or § 22-1834 when the victim is held or provides services for more than 180 days shall be fined not more than 1 1/2 times the maximum fine authorized for the designated act, imprisoned for not more than 1 1/2 times the maximum term authorized for the designated act, or both.

(b) Whoever violates § 22-1835 shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.

(c) Whoever violates § 22-1836 shall be fined or imprisoned up to the maximum fine or term of imprisonment for a violation of each referenced section.

(d) Whoever attempts to violate § 22-1832, § 22-1833, § 22-1834, § 22-1835 or § 22-1836 shall be fined not more than 1/2 the maximum fine otherwise authorized for the offense, imprisoned for not more than 1/2 the maximum term otherwise authorized for the offense, or both.

(e) No person shall be sentenced consecutively for violations of §§ 22-1833 and 22-1834 for an offense arising out of the same incident.


(Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 107, 57 DCR 5405; June 11, 2013, D.C. Law 19-317, § 224, 60 DCR 2064.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-317 substituted “not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01” for “not more than $200,000” in (a)(1), and for “not more than $5,000” in (b).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 224 of the Criminal Fine Proportionality Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-45, April 1, 2013, 60 DCR 5400, 20 DCSTAT 1300).

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 19-317: Section 401 of D.C. Law 19-317 provided that the act shall apply only to offenses committed on or after June 11, 2013.


§ 22–1838. Forfeiture.

(a) In imposing sentence on any individual or business convicted of a violation of this chapter, the court shall order, in addition to any sentence imposed, that the individual or business shall forfeit to the District of Columbia:

(1) Any interest in any property, real or personal, that was used or intended to be used to commit or to facilitate the commission of the violation; and

(2) Any property, real or personal, constituting or derived from any proceeds that the individual or business obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of the violation.

(b) The following shall be subject to forfeiture to the District of Columbia and no property right shall exist in them:

(1) Any property, real or personal, used or intended to be used to commit or to facilitate the commission of any violation of this chapter.

(2) Any property, real or personal, which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to any violation of this chapter.


(Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 108, 57 DCR 5405.)


§ 22–1839. Reputation or opinion evidence.

In a criminal case in which a person is accused of trafficking in commercial sex, as prohibited by § 22-1833, sex trafficking of children, as prohibited by § 22-1834, or benefitting financially from human trafficking, as prohibited by § 22-1836, reputation or opinion evidence of the past sexual behavior of the alleged victim is not admissible. Evidence of an alleged victim’s past sexual behavior other than reputation or opinion evidence also is not admissible, unless such evidence other than reputation or opinion evidence is admitted in accordance with § 22-3022(b), and is constitutionally required to be admitted.


(Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 109, 57 DCR 5405.)


§ 22–1840. Civil action.

(a) An individual who is a victim of an offense prohibited by § 22-1832, § 22-1833, § 22-1834, § 22-1835 or § 22-1836 may bring a civil action in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The court may award actual damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, injunctive relief, and any other appropriate relief. A prevailing plaintiff shall also be awarded attorney’s fees and costs. Treble damages shall be awarded on proof of actual damages where a defendant’s acts were willful and malicious.

(b) Any statute of limitation imposed for the filing of a civil suit under this section shall not begin to run until the plaintiff knew, or reasonably should have known, of any act constituting a violation of § 22-1832, § 22-1833, § 22-1834, § 22-1835 or § 22-1836, or until a minor plaintiff has reached the age of majority, whichever is later.

(c) If a person entitled to sue is imprisoned, insane, or similarly incapacitated at the time the cause of action accrues, so that it is impossible or impracticable for him or her to bring an action, then the time of the incapacity is not part of the time limited for the commencement of the action.

(d) A defendant is estopped to assert a defense of the statute of limitations when the expiration of the statute is due to conduct by the defendant inducing the plaintiff to delay the filing of the action.


(Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 110, 57 DCR 5405.)


§ 22–1841. Data collection and dissemination.

(a) For the purposes of this section, the term:

(1) "Persons engaged in human trafficking or human trafficking-related crimes" includes:

(A) Any person who attempts to recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, or obtain, or successfully recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains, by any means, another person, intending or knowing that the person will be subjected to forced labor or services; and

(B) Any person who purchases or receives the benefits of commercial sex acts, sexual performance, labor, or services by victims of human trafficking or human trafficking-related crimes.

(2) "Human trafficking-related crimes" means pimping, pandering, procuring, operating a house of prostitution, keeping a bawdy or disorderly house, possessing a sexual performance by a minor, visa fraud, document fraud, and assisting in unlawful entry into the United States, as well as violations of §§ 22-1832, 22-1833, 22-1834, 22-1835, and 22-1836.

(3) "Victim" means any person who has suffered a physical, mental, or emotional injury as a direct or indirect result of human trafficking or a human trafficking-related crime.

(b) The District, in cooperation with appropriate criminal justice agencies, shall collect statistical data related to human trafficking. The data shall include:

(1) Numbers of investigations, arrests, prosecutions, and convictions of traffickers and those committing human trafficking-related crimes;

(2) Numbers of and demographic characteristics of persons engaged in human trafficking or human trafficking-related crimes, including age, race, sex;

(3) Numbers of and demographic characteristics of victims, including age, race, sex, national origin, and current citizenship; and

(4) Human trafficking routes and patterns in and out of the District of Columbia.

(c) The Mayor shall elicit the cooperation and assistance of other government agencies, and non-government organizations as appropriate, to assist in the data collection required under subsection (b) of this section. The appropriate authorities in each agency shall make best efforts to collect information relevant to tracking progress on human trafficking.

(d) The District shall publish, periodically and not less than once every 36 months, a report of all current statistical data described in subsection (b) of this section.

(e) Repealed.


(Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 111, 57 DCR 5405; Dec. 13, 2017, D.C. Law 22-33, § 7003, 64 DCR 7652.)

Applicability

Section 7003 of D.C. Law 22-33 repealed subsection (e) of this section that had provided that this section shall apply upon the inclusion of its fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore the addition of this section by D.C. Law 18-239 has been implemented.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) repeal of § 111(e) of D.C. Law 18-239, see § 7003 of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-167, Oct. 24, 2017, 64 DCR 10802).

For temporary (90 days) repeal of § 111(e) of D.C. Law 18-239, see § 7003 of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-104, July 20, 2017, 64 DCR 7032).


§ 22–1842. Training program.

(a) The Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”), the Child and Family Services Agency (“CFSA”), and the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (“DYRS”) shall provide training on human trafficking to:

(1) New law enforcement officers, social workers, and case managers; and

(2) Current law enforcement officers, social worker employees, and case managers who have not previously received comparable training.

(b) The training shall be a minimum of 4 hours and shall include:

(1) The nature and dimension of human trafficking;

(2) The legal rights and remedies available to a victim of human trafficking;

(3) The services and facilities available to a victim of human trafficking;

(4) The legal duties imposed on a police officer, social worker, or case manager to enforce the provisions of D.C. Law 20-276, and to offer protection and assistance to a victim of human trafficking;

(5) Techniques for determining when a person may be a victim of trafficking;

(6) Techniques for handling a human trafficking offense that promotes the safety of the victim; and

(7) The particular needs of youth and minor trafficking victims;

(c) MPD, CFSA, and DYRS shall consult with community organizations that provide training, resources, advocacy, or services to victims of human trafficking for assistance in developing and presenting training on human trafficking.


(Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 112; as added May 7, 2015, D.C. Law 20-276, § 6(a), 62 DCR 479.)


§ 22–1843. Public posting of human trafficking hotline.

[Not funded].


(Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 113; as added May 7, 2015, D.C. Law 20-276, § 6(b), 62 DCR 479.)

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-276: Section 10 of D.C. Law 20-276 provided: (a) that § 6(b) of the act, which enacted this section, shall apply upon the date of inclusions of its fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan; (b) that the Chief Financial Officer shall certify the date of the inclusion of the fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan, and provide notice to the Budget Director of the Council of the certification; (c) that the Budget Director shall cause the notice of the certification to be published in the District of Columbia Register; and (d) that the date of publication of the notice of the certification shall not affect the applicability of § 6(b) of the act.