COLUMBUS - State Senator Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction) today announced the Senate's passage of legislation aimed at providing common sense criminal justice reforms to give victims of human trafficking an opportunity to rebuild their lives.
The legislation complements a series of bills passed over the last several years focusing on the eradication of human trafficking through better enforcement, increased penalties for perpetrators and greater public awareness.
Convictions stemming from coerced behavior, such as prostitution, can negatively impact the victim's ability to apply for a job or seek permanent housing. A defendant’s information is still accessible as a court record even when the individual was found not guilty, or the case was dismissed.
Senate Bill 4 offers hope for human trafficking victims. If an individual commits certain crimes as a result of his or her victimization, this legislation would allow for expungement of those offenses from the victim's criminal record.
Additionally, the bill would permit victims of compelled prostitution to apply for intervention in lieu of conviction, an option that is afforded to human trafficking victims under current law.
Senate Bill 4 now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.