Message from District Attorney Dan Dow
Message from District Attorney Dan Dow

District Attorney Dan Dow Urges Passage of Senate Bill 1042 to Make Human Trafficking a Serious and

Author: District Attorney
Date: 3/4/2022 1:58 PM

Human Trafficking is not legally defined as a serious or violent offense. Senate Bill 1042 would change the law to include Human Trafficking, Penal Code section 236.1 as a serious and violent offense under California's Three Strikes Law.

California has the notorious distinction of being one of the nation’s top destinations for human trafficking. California consistently ranks number one in the nation in the number of human trafficking cases reported to the national human trafficking hotline.  The California Attorney General has described human trafficking as “pervasive” within the State of California.   In recent years, cities across the state have seen an alarming spike in the number of human trafficking cases. 

“It is long overdue to correctly classify human trafficking as a serious and violent strike under California's Three Strikes Law,” said District Attorney Dan Dow.  “Most Californians are shocked to learn that this exploitative crime is designated as “non-serious” and “non-violent. By passing SB 1042, let us send a strong message to those who enslave other human beings for sex or labor:  we will not tolerate your crimes and we will ensure appropriately strong sentences under California’s Three Strikes Law when you engage in human trafficking.”

 Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world.  Traffickers have learned that trafficking a person is much more profitable than trafficking other items of property, such as guns and drugs, since human beings are a reusable commodity.  The highly profitable and reusable nature of trafficking victims has resulted in a rapidly growing criminal industry on our city streets and online.  Traffickers can make upwards of $2,500 a day forcibly selling victims in the sex trade. 

California law plays a pivotal role in the ability to combat human trafficking and prevent repeat offenders from continuously enslaving additional victims.   Under current California law, human trafficking is defined as a “non-serious” and “non-violent” crime.  This also makes human trafficking a “non-strike” offense for purposes of sentencing.  The designation of human trafficking as a “non-serious” and “non-violent” crime has significant consequences under the law and permits traffickers to receive greater leniency under the law than those convicted of “serious” and “violent” crimes.  As a result, human trafficking falls into the same category as other low level felony crimes such as vandalism, theft, and drug sales. 

The horrific reality is that human trafficking is anything but non-serious and non-violent.  By definition, human trafficking charges apply to those who are sexually exploiting or attempting to sexually exploit children and those who use force, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, menace or an unlawful threat of injury on an adult that results in the substantial and sustained deprivation of the adult victim’s liberty for the purposes of obtaining forced labor, services, or sexual exploitation. 

Criminals engaging in sex trafficking force their victims to have sex with hundreds of strangers a year. Trafficking victims are routinely abused in a variety of ways including the deprivation of food to eat, sleep, rest, or receive other basic life necessities until they meet the daily demands of their traffickers.  Every aspect of the victim’s life is controlled by the trafficker and victims are forced to live in an isolated world where terror and abuse reign. Traffickers thrive in a culture that reduces human beings to mere property to be sold and exploited at the trafficker’s will.


The trafficking of children is particularly rampant in California, with traffickers forcing kids as young as 11-12 years-old to have sex with upwards of 15 men a day or more.  The average age a child is forced into the sex trade is between 11-14 years old. Traffickers will often threaten to kill the children they enslave or their loved ones if they do not meet their daily sex quota demands.  Besides verbal threats, traffickers frequently burn their victims, beat them, inject them with drugs, and rape or otherwise sexually assault them.  Traffickers often brand their victims by forcing their victims to get the trafficker’s name tattooed on their face or body.

Labor trafficking is no less insidious, as victims of labor trafficking are forced to work long hours in unsanitary and inhumane working conditions for little or no pay.  Labor traffickers will often tell their victims they will not be believed if they try to report the crime and the authorities will deport them. Like sex traffickers, labor traffickers maintain total control over their victims by using a combination of physical force and psychological manipulation.


Human trafficking is nothing less than modern-day slavery. This label is well-deserved as traffickers control every aspect of a victim’s life.  Traffickers are criminals of the worst kind, frequently targeting the most vulnerable and abused of society for their own financial gain through commercial sexual exploitation.  Women, children, and undocumented immigrants are particularly vulnerable for exploitation, as are members of the LGBTQ community.

For far too long in California, human traffickers have been treated under the law as “non-serious” and “non-violent” offenders.  District Attorney Dan Dow joins Kern County District Attorney Cindy Zimmer and many other colleagues around our state to urge the passage of California Senate Bill SB 1042 which will change the law by declaring human trafficking to be a “serious” and “violent” crime – because it is precisely that. Serious and violent offenses are “strike” offenses under California’s Three Strikes Law.  SB 1042 will provide greater protection to trafficking victims and send a clear message that we will no longer treat this as a non-serious and non-violent crime in California.

You may download a FACT SHEET about Senate Bill 1042. 

You may make your support known in writing at the following website:  You may support SB 1042 by calling the Offices of the State Senators on the Public Safety Committee and ask to speak with their Legislative Director to express you support of SB 1042.

Senator Steven Bradford (Chair)
Capitol Office Phone. 916-651-4035

Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (Vice Chair)
Capitol Office Phone. 916-651-4023

Senator Sydney Kamlager
Capitol Office Phone. 916-651-4030

Senator Nancy Skinner
Capitol Office Phone. 916-651-4009

Senator Scott D. Wiener
Capitol Office Phone. 916-651-4011

# # #