New law aimed at helping survivors of human trafficking clear criminal records

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Joined by survivors as well as Fresno's mayor and police chief, Assemblymember Jim Patterson called on the governor to sign a bill that would allow human trafficking survivors to have their records cleared of non-violent crimes within a reasonable amount of time after escaping the life.

"The goal here in Fresno is to separate victims from their traffickers to deliver them to a safe place where they can start a new life and to give them the tools to clear their name," he said.

As it stands now, local law enforcement agencies and the California Department of Justice have one year from a court ruling to purge a survivor's record, which can make it a challenge when trying to pass a background check for work.

This bill would shorten that time to 90 days of a judge's decision.

"These women who stand with me today and women across this country are victims, they are victims of human trafficking," Mayor Jerry Dyer said. "Anything that we can do as a society to allow them to return to a normal life is something we should be doing."

At the moment, human trafficking survivors are expected to pay all fines and meet all probation requirements before they can ask a judge to clear their criminal records.

But with a criminal record, finding employment is nearly impossible.

Without a job, it's hard to pay off the fines to get their records to be cleared.

"How do you get a job when you've got a record to pay the fines so you can ask a court to vacate a crime," Patterson said. "It's a vicious cycle."

With the governor's signature, AB 262 would allow human trafficking survivors to ask the court to purge their records.

"The legislation is on the governor's desk," Patterson said. "We believe it is self-evident that the state of California needs this kind of legislation and our hope is that he will sign it and sign it soon."
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.