Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this


East County News Service

August 26  2016 (San Diego) -- California’s state Senate today approved a measure which would allow human trafficking victims arrested or convicted of non-violent crimes while they were trafficked to have those charges removed from their records.

The measure, SB 823, was authored by Sen Marty Block (D-San Diego).

“Few crimes are as heinous as the trafficking of a human being, especially when it involves children and teenagers,” Block said. “Under my proposal, trafficking victims may petition the courts to have any arrest records and convictions removed from their records so they are not hindered while seeking education, employment or housing as they attempt to re-establish their lives,” Block said.

“SB 823 offers a clean slate to victims working to rebuild their lives after trafficking. It’s not a free pass. Victims would be required to provide clear and convincing evidence that any nonviolent convictions were the direct result of being trafficked,” Block added.

Block’s proposal would also require the petitioner to demonstrate that they are distancing themselves from the human trafficking life, and a judge must determine that erasing the convictions are in the best interest of the petitioner and in the interest of justice. If the petition is granted, the victim can then legally deny or refuse to disclose an arrest or conviction. However, the victim would not be relieved of restitution obligations.

Current law allows only solicitation or prostitution to be expunged, even though research has shown that victims may be charged with many different crimes such as shoplifting or trespass while being trafficked.

Block said expungement alone is inadequate because an arrest or conviction on those charges remains on the victim’s record and must be disclosed when applying for certain jobs.

“Many of these victims are young girls in middle or high school when they are abducted, coerced or tricked into human trafficking. If they succeed in escaping that life, then they deserve an opportunity to get a clean slate as they restart their lives.”

SB 823 is supported by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, the Judicial Council of California; the California Public Defenders Association; the National Association of Social Workers, California; National Council of Jewish Women, California; the California Catholic Conference; Junior Leagues of California, and others.

Block’s measure was approved on a 34-5 vote.

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.