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Bill Increases Penalty For Second Offense For Those Who Pay For Sex

Katie Hunhoff - South Dakota Magazine

The South Dakota House of Representatives is passing legislation to increase penalties for those who pay money for sex.

HB 1110 adds that a person convicted of one or more violations within a decade is a Class 6 felony.

The first offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, a lesser offense.

Representative Thomas Holmes is sponsoring the bill. He says increasing the penalty for a second offense is the best chance for convicting those who pay money for sex.

“In the past what has happened is the initially offense was regarded as a felony, and there have been defense attorneys who have been able to argue successfully that that was too severe a punishment for the first offense,” Holmes says. “So, we modeled our legislation after the legislation in some other states, Nebraska most notably, who passed something like this last year."

Holmes says this approach should be more successful in court.

Holmes is the prime sponsor of two other bills related to sex trafficking. One bill expunges the criminal record of those victimized by child sex trafficking. Another defines street gang and street gang activity as it relates to trafficking.

The bill now heads to the Senate.