Amendments to a New Jersey law were unanimously passed by both houses of the New Jersey Legislature and signed into law by the governor in January. These changes will help survivors make new lives for themselves after the ordeal of being trafficked. The amended law will become effective in May.
Before the new law was passed, there was a New Jersey law that allowed for human trafficking victims who were arrested and convicted of prostitution, prostitution-related or similar offenses while being trafficked, to vacate and expunge (clear) their arrests, complaints, convictions, and DNA records associated with these violations. Vacating and expunging a criminal record has the effect of the arrest and conviction never having occurred. The records are removed from the criminal record check or what is commonly referred to as the “rap sheet,” and they are physically removed and kept separate from the files of any law enforcement agency or court that possessed them. The problem with that law was that it only applied to prostitution-related offenses. Traffickers often force their victims to commit other crimes such as drug offenses, theft offenses, forgery, fraud, and providing or creating false identities.
The bill just signed into law expands the list of crimes to cover most other crimes with the exception of the most serious ones, such as homicide, kidnapping, luring or enticing a child, and sexual assault. These amendments will more fully allow survivors to gain a fresh start and open avenues for jobs, housing, and public benefits.
This information last reviewed: Feb 10, 2022