Do not underestimate your victims’ capacities to tell the story in a meaningful way, with corroboration from other witnesses. In many instances, with proper preparation of victims who receive support through victim service providers, victims are the most compelling witnesses. Through an investigation that focused on collecting corroborating evidence and witnesses, you will have more than enough to lay a proper foundation for the case, but if you believe there may be challenges for the jury in understanding the scheme of coercion and control and the victims’ reactions to the circumstances, then consider using experts. The proper use of human trafficking experts permits jurors and judges to better understand the unfamiliar actions of victims in context to support and enhance the credibility of their testimony at trial. Prosecutors can consider the use of experienced agents to testify as experts in the common practices of traffickers and the use of medical or mental health experts to explain the symptoms and effects of human trafficking trauma on its victims.
There can be a battle of the experts between the prosecution and the defense; by using experts, you may open the door for appeal. A good strategy can be having an expert on call and ready to testify, if you have concerns about how a jury may respond to victim and witness testimony. Based on how the case is evolving in court, you can elect to put your expert on the stand or not.
For additional information and tools, visit Resource Page 5.5 Strategies for Prosecution and Law Enforcement.