Did Georgia Accidentally Decriminalize Prostitution?

Oct 15, 2015
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Did Georgia Accidentally Decriminalize Prostitution?

(Mimesis Law) — In Georgia, it is an absolute defense to a charge of prostitution that the defendant was being sexually trafficked.

A person shall not be guilty of [prostitution] if the conduct upon which the alleged criminal liability is based was committed by an accused who was:

… (2) Acting under coercion or deception while the accused was being trafficked for sexual servitude…

But the law is so broad that virtually any exchange of sex for something of value which also includes “coercion or deception” is sex trafficking.

Did Georgia Accidentally Decriminalize Prostitution?

In 2011, in response to intense pressure to do something about Atlanta’s status as the sex trafficking capital of the country, Georgia’s General Assembly passed one of the toughest sex trafficking laws around. In 2015, it was amended again to make it even tougher. And to keep anyone from slipping through the net, the legislature made sure the law was written as broadly as possible.

Before going further, we have to parse this confusingly written law.

A “person commits the offense of trafficking a person for sexual servitude when that person knowingly subjects another person to or maintains another person in sexual servitude or knowingly recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains by any means another person for the purpose of sexual servitude.”

Okay, so this part is easy. If you do something to get someone into sexual servitude, you’re committing the crime.

Sexual servitude means

[a]ny sexually explicit conduct or performance involving sexually explicit conduct for which anything of value is directly or indirectly given, promised to, or received by any person, which conduct is induced or obtained by coercion or deception

Okay, so this makes sense so far. If you try to get someone to do something sexually explicit in exchange for something of value, whether they get it or someone else gets it, you’re two thirds of the way to sexual trafficking.

All that’s left is that you have to coerce or deceive the sex traffickee. And it’s here where things start to fall apart. The definitions of coercion and deception are so broad that virtually any prostitute can make a credible claim to being trafficked.

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