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Human Trafficking Laws


The Michigan law banning human trafficking went into effect on August 24, 2006.  The law was strengthened in 2010 and the changes took 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 of Michigan law can be found at MCL 750.462(a)-(j).

Michigan law prohibits:

  • Forced labor or services by:
    • Force, fraud, or coercion.
    • Causing or threatening physical harm.
    • Physically restraining or threatening to restrain.
    • Abusing or threatening to abuse the law or legal process.
    • Destroying or confiscating passport, other immigration document, or any other actual or purported government identification.
    • Using blackmail, using or threatening to cause financial harm to, or exerting or threatening to exert financial control over another person.
    • Recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining by any means, or attempting to recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, or obtain by any means, another person, intending or knowing that the person will be subjected to forced labor or services.
  • Recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for labor or services for the purpose of holding that person in involuntary servitude or debt bondage.
  • Benefiting financially or receiving anything of value from participation in a human trafficking venture.
  • Child Sexually Abusive Activity:
    • A person shall not knowingly recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, or obtain by any means, or attempt to recruit, entice, harbor, provide, or obtain by any means, a minor knowing that the minor will be used for child sexually abusive activity.

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 law:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Federal Law - The Trafficking Victim's Protection Act

In 2000, Congress enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).  Prior to that, no comprehensive Federal law existed to protect victims of trafficking or to prosecute their traffickers. 

Additional resources: