Attorney General Lynn Fitch

S.B. 2321 and S.B. 2246 now proceed to Governor Reeves for his signature into law. 

On Monday, Attorney General Lynn Fitch applauded the Mississippi Legislature for passing two bills, S.B. 2321 and S.B. 2246, which provide new tools for combatting human trafficking and exploitation. Both bills will head to the Governor to be signed into law.

Senate Bill 2321 creates a civil cause of action for engaging in or benefitting from human trafficking. A similar measure, H.B. 1404, was introduced but died in committee.

“Human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar criminal enterprise and if we are going to fight it, we need a full arsenal of legal and policy options,” said Attorney General Lynn Fitch. “The legislation passed by the Legislature is not only an additional deterrent to those who engage in and intentionally support human trafficking, it is a way to empower their victims.”

The conference report housed under S.B. 2321 states that:

“A person who engages in human trafficking or who willfully, intentionally and knowingly benefits from participating in a venture that trafficks another person and who is found liable under this act for any amount of damages proximately caused by the trafficking is jointly liable with any other defendant found liable under this act for the entire amount of damages proximately caused by the trafficking.”

S.B. 2321 will also allow a trafficking victim to sue those individuals for compensatory damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees.

The Mississippi Legislature also passed Senate Bill 2246, which authorizes the issuance of search warrants upon oral testimony for investigation of sex offenses against children involving a computer and to prescribe the procedure for the issuance of the search warrants.

A similar bill, House Bill 799, was introduced in the House but died in conference.

“When a child is being exploited online,” said Fitch, “time is of the essence. A child is victimized every time a photo or video of their abuse is shared. The Attorney General’s Office cyber crime investigators need to be able to act quickly to protect them.”

The legislation states that if circumstances make it reasonable to dispense, in whole or in part, with a written affidavit, a judge who is authorized to issue search warrants may issue a warrant based upon sworn testimony communicated by telephone or other appropriate means, including facsimile transmission.

Through S.B. 2246, the contents of a warrant upon oral testimony shall be the same as the contents of a warrant upon affidavit. The person who executes the warrant shall enter the exact time of execution on the face of the duplicate original warrant.

Attorney General expressed her gratitude to all the legislators who supported S.B. 2466 and S.B. 2411 in the Legislature.

“I eagerly await their signature into law by Governor Reeves. Child predators and sex traffickers exploit some of the most vulnerable in our communities,” Fitch said. “These new tools will help us to protect those vulnerable individuals, to stop these criminals from hurting others, and even empower trafficking victims as they begin to rebuild their lives.”