Human trafficking exploits victims through forced work and sexual activity. Victims can include men, women, or children who were physically restrained, had their family members threatened, were controlled with drugs, or those who were forced or simply misled into working for another—but they may also be arrested and prosecuted, detained, and deported. A recent New Jersey law recognizes that people who were arrested and convicted of certain offenses as human trafficking victims may be eligible to vacate (remove) convictions from their criminal records and have their arrest records expunged.
Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act
New Jersey's Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act gives certain protections to trafficking victims. These protections include vacation and expungement of records for victims of human trafficking offenses. Vacation means that the conviction will be removed from your criminal record. Expungement is the process that removes your arrest and all subsequent proceedings (including conviction) from public view and gives you the right to affirmatively state that the arrest or conviction never happened. Convictions eligible for vacation and expungement under this law include prostitution and related offenses, loitering for the purpose of engaging in prostitution, and similar local laws.
If you were a victim of human trafficking, you may be entitled to this relief. The law requires that you recently stopped being a victim of human trafficking or recently sought services for being a victim of human trafficking, or were prevented from doing so because of safety concerns.
Transportation from another country or across state lines is often but not always involved. New Jersey can be a popular location for human trafficking because it is easily accessible by many kinds of transportation and is a major national and international shipping hub.
If you think you might qualify for this relief under the Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act, you may contact LSNJLAWSM, Legal Services of New Jersey's statewide, toll-free legal hotline, at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529). Hotline hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. You may also apply for help online.