Writing it Right: Documenting Human Trafficking

One specific responsibility of law enforcement and prosecutors working on human trafficking cases is to write various reports, affidavits, and briefs that effectively document incidents of sex and labor trafficking. It is crucial for these documents to accurately reflect complex trafficking dynamics and case-specific facts to establish probable cause and effectively litigate issues at trial. When law enforcement and prosecutors collaborate with others, including those with lived experience, they are better equipped to successfully articulate how traffickers use a variety of overt and subtle tactics to exploit victims—thus establishing the element(s) of force, fraud, and/or coercion necessary for cases involving adult victims.

This presentation focuses on the core competencies needed by law enforcement and prosecutors to establish the elements of human trafficking. Additionally, facilitators discuss the necessity of protecting victim privacy and ensuring that public records and press releases accurately describe trafficking dynamics. In combination with other external messaging, this documentation can help educate the public—and potential jurors—about the realities of trafficking.

At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be better able to:

• Effectively document traffickers’ actions to establish the elements of force, fraud, or coercion;

• Articulate the realities of human trafficking when communicating with the media and the public; and

• Ethically protect victim and witness safety in the public record.