NC Stop Human Trafficking is pleased to announce the NC General Assembly passed and Gov. Roy Cooper signed H971, making solicitation of prostitution by a sex buyer a felony in North Carolina.

Previously, solicitation of prostitution by a sex buyer was a misdemeanor, which provided little incentive for law enforcement to operate reverse stings.

Before the passage of H971, reverse sex buyer sting operations came at a high cost that would only typically net misdemeanor arrests and marginal judicial interest, zeroing out the resources expended by law enforcement agencies in conducting them. With the solicitation of prostitution by a sex buyer classified as a felony, now the criminal justice system’s will to investigate and prosecute can be solidified.

NC Stop Human Trafficking believes that with stronger sex buying deterrents in place, the demand for commercial sex will decrease, thereby reducing the demand for sex trafficking victims.

This aspect of H971 was not the only boon for the anti-human trafficking movement. This bill also requires lodging establishments (hotels, motels) to have their staff trained in what human trafficking looks like and how to report it.

H971 also requires disclosure of criminal history during child custody hearings. A person who has been convicted of sexual violence, human trafficking, or the sexual exploitation of a minor must disclose that criminal history, as well as whether they have been denied custody of any minor child previously.

NC Stop Human Trafficking is also pleased that the NC General Assembly passed H971 to protect the privacy of victims of human trafficking and their families by not making their personal information a matter of public record. The statute requires victims or their guardians to file a motion for victim confidentiality.