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Election 2012: State Proposition Guide

Produced by KQED News and The California Report

Proposition 35

Increases Penalties for Human Trafficking


At a Glance

  • Proposition 35 increases the prison terms and fines for human trafficking.
  • It expands the definition of human trafficking to include distribution of child pornography.
  • It directs the money collected from fines to victims' services and law enforcement.
  • It requires sex offenders to give local law enforcement their online identities and Internet access information.
  • It requires training for police officers in how to handle human trafficking cases.
  • It prohibits using evidence of the victim's prior sexual conduct in court.
  • Budget Impact: The Legislative Analyst's Office estimates local governments across the state could spend a few million dollars in one-time training costs, plus a few million dollars annually on increased prosecution and corrections costs. Fines would generate several million dollars annually for victims' services, prevention and rescue operations.


  • This Proposition
  • Entire Guide

There are two categories of human trafficking: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Most human trafficking cases are tried in federal courts, so Proposition 35 would affect the small number of cases handled by California courts. As of March 2012, only 18 such offenders were in state prison.

What Prop. 35 Changes

Prop. 35 would expand the definition of human trafficking to include crimes related to creating and distributing child pornography. So a person could be convicted of human trafficking for duplicating child pornography, even if the offender had no contact with the child.

Increased Penalties

The maximum prison term would go from five years to eight years for labor trafficking; five years to 20 years for sex trafficking; and eight years to life in prison for forcibly sex trafficking a minor. The maximum fine would go up from $100,000 to $1.5 million.

The measure requires sex traffickers to register as sex offenders. Registered sex offenders would have to give the local police or sheriff's department the names of their Internet providers and their online identities, such as user names and email addresses.

Where Does the Money Go?

Seventy percent of the money from fines would go to victims' support services and 30 percent would go to law enforcement activities related to trafficking, including prevention, witness protection and rescue operations.

Arguments For and Against:

Supporters say...

the measure would prevent human trafficking through increased penalties, law enforcement training and monitoring.

The majority of funding for Prop. 35 comes from former Facebook executive Chris Kelly, who founded the Safer California Foundation. California Against Slavery, the California Police Chiefs Association and the Peace Officers Research Association of California also back the measure.

Opponents say...

the measure limits online free speech. The measure could make it harder to help victims leave sex work by ending the crime of misdemeanor prostitution. The measure could be challenged in court because including the "intent to distribute obscene matter" could be considered unconstitutionally vague and lengthening prison sentences could be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

The ACLU of Northern California has come out against the measure. The Erotic Providers Legal, Education and Research Project Inc. is the major opponent.