Bipartisan Support Moves Mitchell Bill Allowing Wiretaps in Sex Trafficking Cases

April 09, 2014

Sacramento – Senator Holly J. Mitchell’s (D-Los Angeles) bill to allow courts to authorize wiretaps for the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking passes out of the Senate Public Safety Committee with an 7-0 vote.  The bill, SB 955, now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

“Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery,” said Senator Mitchell, “The victims are frequently children of color and young women who have been forced into prostitution.  They need our help.” 

SB 955 would add suspected human trafficking to the list of felony cases for which a court may authorize police to employ wiretaps.  Wiretapping is already legal in investigations of illicit drug dealing, various violent crimes, and felonious conspiracies. Californians passed an initiative to increase penalties for youth trafficking in 1996, but that ballot measure did not add trafficking to the list of authorized wiretap investigations.

The interception of wire and electronic communications (cell phones, text messages, etc.) is a powerful tool for investigating, infiltrating, dismantling and prosecuting human trafficking organizations.  With this tool, California will be better able to prosecute pimps and provide assistance to the victims of human trafficking.

“No wiretap would be legal without a judge’s prior review of the evidence of a trafficking crime,” said Senator Mitchell.  “Protecting children from abuse is a good use of technology and a needed tool.”