Help for Trafficking Survivors
Are you a survivor looking to clear your criminal record?
If you were convicted of a non-violent offense, including prostitution, because you were a victim of human trafficking, the conviction can be vacated. It is up to the judge whether or not to grant your petition.
Changes in California law went into effect on January 1, 2022 that make it easier and faster for victims of human trafficking to have their records cleared of non-violent crimes.
AB 262 was introduced by Assemblyman Jim Patterson. It makes the following changes to the law to help survivors seeking a new life:
1. CLARIFIES WHEN SURVIVORS CAN ASK TO CLEAR RECORDS
Current law says survivors can ask to have their records cleared of non-violent offenses “within a reasonable amount of time” after escaping the life. That is too vague and left the decision up to a judge. Survivors can petition the court at any time after leaving the life to clear their record.
2. ELIMINATES REQUIREMENT TO PAY FEES BEFORE COURT HEARING
Survivors often have to pay all fines and meet all probation requirements before they can ask a court to clear their criminal record of nonviolent offenses. Without a clear record, employment is almost impossible.
AB 262 prevents a court from refusing to hear a human trafficking victim’s petition to clear their record due to fines owed and/or probation requirements not met.
3. RECORDS MUST BE PURGED 90 DAYS FROM RULING
Right now law enforcement has one year from the court ruling to purge a survivor’s records. For a survivor unable to pass a background check to get a job, one year is an eternity.
AB 262 says it must be done within 90 days of a judge’s order.
Here’s How to Get Help Clearing Your Record
The following organization can help you on the path to clearing your criminal record. Please reach out to them directly for assistance in your state/county.
The Survivor Reentry Project through Freedom Network USA focuses on criminal record relief for survivors of human trafficking and builds sustainable post-conviction representation practices across the country.
Clean Slate Clinics
Many counties in California offer “Clean Slate” programs to help people clear their records.