Human Trafficking Laws


The Michigan law banning human trafficking took effect on August 24, 2006.  The law was strengthened in 2010 with changes taking effect on April 1, 2011. These changes included enhanced restitution for human trafficking victims.  Not only can victims ask for all costs suffered as a consequence of their bondage, such as medical costs, they can also ask for a restitution order that finally recognizes the value of the years of their life lost due to the crime. 

The human trafficking chapter was further overhauled in 2014 as a result of a 21-bill legislative package.  The 2014 legislative package included safe harbor provisions, stronger tools to hold traffickers accountable, and created a standing Human Trafficking Commission within the Department of Attorney General and a Human Trafficking Health Advisory Board within the Department of Community Health.  Most of the new legislation took effect on January 14, 2015.  (For a more thorough review of the 2014 Human Trafficking Legislative Package, see below.)

The human trafficking chapter of Michigan law can be found at MCL 750.462(a)-(i).

Michigan law prohibits:

  • Forced Labor or Services MCL 750.462b

    • "Labor" means work of economic or financial value.

    • "Services" means an ongoing relationship between a person and an individual in which the individual performs activities under the supervision of or for the benefit of the person, including, but not limited to commercial sexual activity and sexually explicit performances.

  • Debt Bondage MCL750.462c

  • Enterprise Liability; Financially Benefitting MCL 750.462d

  • Trafficking a Minor MCL 750.462e

    • Covers both sex trafficking and labor trafficking of a minor

    • NO Force Fraud or Coercion Required

    • "regardless of whether the person knows the age of the minor"

"Forced labor or services" means labor or services that are obtained or maintained by FORCE, FRAUD OR COERCION. MCL 750.462a(g)

"Force" includes, but is not limited to, physical violence or threat of physical violence or actual physical restraint or confinement or threat of actual physical restraint of confinement, without regard to whether injury occurs.  MCL 762.462a(f)

"Fraud" includes, but is not limited to, a false or deceptive offer of employment or marriage.  MCL 762a(h)

"Coercion" includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:

  1. threatening to harm or physically restrain any individual or the creation of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause an individual to believe that failure to perform an act would result in psychological, reputational, or financial harm to, or physical restraint of any individual. 

  2. abusing or threatening abuse of the legal system, including threats of arrest or deportation without regard to whether the individual being threatened is subject to arrest or deportation under the laws of this state or the United States.

  3. knowingly destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating, or possessing any actual or purported passport or other immigration document or any other actual or purported government identification document from any individual without regard to whether the documents are fraudulent or fraudulently obtained.

A victim may experience the legal concepts noted above in the following ways:

Force: Kidnapping, torture, battering, threats with weapons, sexual abuse, confinement, forced use of drugs, forced 
abortions, denial of medical care.

Fraud: Promises of valid immigration documents, victim told to use false travel papers, contract signed for legitimate   
work, promised job differs from actuality, promises of money or salary, misrepresentation of work conditions,
wooing into romantic relationship.

Coercion: Debt bondage, threats of harm to victim or family, control of children, controlled communication,
photographing in illegal situation, holding ID/travel documents, verbal or psychological abuse, control of 
victims money, punishments for misbehavior.

Other important notes about Michigan's human trafficking laws:

  • Violations of the human trafficking statute are punishable by 10 years to life imprisonment and $10,000 to $50,000 in fines, depending upon the circumstances of the crime. 

  • Penalties may be increased if the human trafficking involves kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct, forced labor or a commercial sex act of a minor, an attempt to kill, or death.

  • Other crimes may be charged in conjunction with human trafficking.

  • Human trafficking convictions may be ordered to be served consecutively with other convictions.

  • Human trafficking can be used as an underlying crime for a charge of racketeering, also known as 'conducting criminal enterprises,' a 20-year felony.

  • Property used in the commission of human trafficking may be subject to seizure and forfeiture.

  • Sex trafficking of a minor triggers Sex Offender registration

  • Enhanced restitution may be available to victims of human trafficking, including:

    • Lost income;

    • The cost of transportation, temporary housing, and child care expenses incurred by the victim because of the offense;

    • Attorney fees and other costs and expenses incurred by the victim; and,

    • Any other loss suffered by the victim as a result of the offense.

The 2014 Michigan Human Trafficking Legislative Package:

Safe Harbor - Safe harbor was one of the key reforms in the 2014 Michigan human trafficking legislative package.

  • 2014 PA 336 amends MCL 750.451 to provide Safe Harbor to minor sex trafficking victims by presuming that a minor found engaging in prostitution is a victim of human trafficking and mandates law enforcement to refer the minor victims for appropriate treatment within the Department of Human Services.

  • 2014 PA 342 amends MCL 712A.2 to provide Safe Harbor to minor sex trafficking victims by establishing probate court jurisdiction for minor human trafficking victims who are dependent and in danger of substantial harm.

  • 2014 PA 335 amends MCL 780.621 to provide Safe Harbor by allowing victims of human trafficking to clear their criminal record of crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers.

  • 2014 PA 334 creates MCL 750.451c in the prostitution chapter which provides adult human trafficking victims safe harbor through a diversion process to avoid prostitution convictions. 

Stronger Tools to Hold Traffickers Accountable 

  1. Increases the crime of buying sex from a minor to a felony to reduce demand.  2014 PA 326 [SB 205] amends MCL 750.449.

  2. Overhauls the current human trafficking chapter of the penal code by updating, consolidating and streamlining the current penal code provisions regarding the crime of human trafficking. 2014 PA 329 [HB 5234] amends MCL 750.462a-i. 

  3. Removes the statute of limitations in cases where trafficking is punishable by life and otherwise lengthened the statute of limitations for bringing charges against traffickers. (Theresa Flores Law). 2014 PA 324 [SB 584] amends MCL 767.24.

  4. Strengthens penalties against sex-buyers (johns) by revising the definition of Tier I Sex Offender to include the new crime of soliciting prostitution from a minor as well as adding those engaging in trafficking minors for sex as Tier II sex offenders, and requires johns to be placed on sex offender registry. 2014 PA 328 [SB 602] amends MCL 28.722. 

  5. Removes outdated gender-specific references in the prostitution chapter, and increases the fine for operating a place of prostitution from $2500 to $5000. 2014 PA 331 [HB 5231] amends MCL 750.452, 750.455, 750.456, 750.457, 750.458, 750.459, and 750.460. ** Effective 10-16-2014

  6. Updates the Crime Victim's Rights Act to account for the overhaul of the human trafficking chapter. 2014 PA 340 [HB 5237] amends MCL 780.766(b). 

  7. Updates the Omnibus Forfeiture Act to include provisions to account for the overhaul of the human trafficking act as well as extends the time in which to file a forfeiture action. 2014 PA 332 [HB 5236] amends MCL 600.4701.

  8. Amends the Omnibus Forfeiture Act to include human trafficking as crime subject to forfeiture to aid in removing the profit motive from the crime of human trafficking. 2014 PA 333 [HB 5233] amends MCL 600.4702-4708. 

  9. Makes human trafficking of a child an offense that must be reported by mandatory reporters to Child Protective Services. 2014 PA 344 [HB 5239] amends MCL 722.623.

  10. Reflects changes in the sentencing guidelines for increased penalties against criminals soliciting sex from minors under 16 years of age as well as changes in the human trafficking chapter updates. 2014 PA 327 [SB 206/HB 5232/HB 5235] amends MCL 777.16w. 

  11. Amends civil nuisance provisions to allow human trafficking violations to qualify as a nuisance.  2014 PA 387 [HB5230] **Effective 3-31-15

Commissions & Boards

  1. Creates a standing Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking within the Department of Attorney General to continue the work of the first Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking. 2014 PA 325 [HB 5158].

  2. Creates the Michigan Human Trafficking Health Advisory Board within the Department of Community Health to examine and explore issues relating to medical and mental health policies for victims of human trafficking.  2014 PA 461 [SB 596].

Victim Health & Welfare Provisions

  1. Medical Passports - Requires indication in medical passport of whether child could be a victim of human trafficking and professional assessment of suspected human trafficking victims to ensure appropriate counseling. 2014 PA 337 [SB587].

  2. Civil Cause of Action for human trafficking victims - Broadens the scope of damages available to a victim of human trafficking in a civil suit against her/his trafficker. 2014 PA 339 [SB 590]. 

  3. Medical Assistance for human trafficking victims - Allows trafficking victims eligible for Medicaid to receive medical assistance benefits to treat injuries (medical or psychological) sustained as a result of trafficking. 2014 PA 341 [SB 592].

  4. Foster care for human trafficking victims - Requires special consideration in foster care context for minors who may be human trafficking victims. 2014 PA 338 [SB 593]. 

  5. Training for Medical Professionals - Requires the promulgation of new training requirements regarding human trafficking that would apply to most medical professionals. 2014 PA 343 [SB 597].

Federal Human Trafficking Laws

For information on federal human trafficking laws, visit the U.S. Department of State's website.