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Assisting Human Trafficking Victims with Return of Property and Restitution

NCJ Number
Lou Longhitano, J.D.; Charlene Whitman, J.D.
Date Published
February 2014
5 pages

This strategy brief discusses the problems associated with returning property to victims of human trafficking.


This strategy brief identifies problems associated with returning property to victims of human trafficking and considers collaborative strategies for prosecutors and allied criminal justice professionals who must balance the interests of both victims and the criminal justice system. The first question that needs to be asked when determining whether property can be returned to victims of human trafficking is whether or not the seized property is considered evidence. Officials need to consider whether the property provides corroborating evidence towards the commission of a crime, whether the property can act as independent corroborating evidence, and whether the property can be replicated, copied, or documented in some way to allow the original items to be returned to the victim. This brief provides tips on documenting evidence in order to enable its return to its rightful owner. In some cases, property cannot be returned to its rightful owner. In these instances, prosecutors should seek to restore victims through an award of restitution. This brief discusses the various aspects of restitution that should be considered by prosecutors. 20 endnotes