Kean wants to expunge criminal records of sex trafficking victims in New Jersey

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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean that would require the expungement of unlawful acts committed while a person was a victim of human trafficking was advanced by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Human trafficking occurs today across New Jersey in places where many of us would never suspect it, including our own communities,” said Kean (R-21). “Victims are often lured with the prospect of a job, and then have their passports, money, and identification stolen by their handlers. They’re moved around and forced to work for the benefit of others and sometimes even forced to commit crimes. These individuals are victims of a terrible situation, and they deserve our support, not our contempt. It is imperative that we protect them from any unjust prosecution.”

The legislation, S-3433, would provide a process for a person to vacate and expunge all arrests, charges, complaints, or convictions, as well as DNA records, for violations of law committed by the person as a result of having been a victim of human trafficking.

Under current law, a victim can submit an application to the Superior Court for an order to expunge convictions and related records only for violations of prostitution, loitering for the purpose of engaging in prostitution, or similar offenses.

Kean’s bill would remove this limitation and instead provide that all convictions and unlawful acts be expunged—with the exception of murder, manslaughter, and sexual assault.

“Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery, and after enduring such a horrific experience, victims deserve to have a fresh start to a new life,” added Kean. “We need to make sure that the unlawful acts these individuals were forced to commit by their handlers do not legally define who they are.”

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