Human Trafficking Victim Expungement in Florida
Florida Statute 943.0583 allows victims of human trafficking to expunge the criminal records of most criminal acts committed while a victim of human trafficking.
Importantly, unlike the general expungement statute, a person's prior criminal history will not disqualify a human trafficking victim from expunging the criminal records of the acts committed while a victim of human trafficking.
Eligibility for Human Trafficking Victim Expungement
To be eligible to expunge the criminal records of acts committed while a victim of human trafficking, the person must have:
- Committed an eligible criminal offense;
- While a victim of human trafficking; and
- Exercised due diligence in initiating the expungement process.
Eligible Criminal Offense
Any non-violent criminal offense committed while a victim of human trafficking is eligible to be expunged under the human trafficking victim expungement statute.
However, most violent felony offenses committed while a victim of human trafficking are ineligible to be expunged. Ineligible offenses are listed under the Habitual Violent Felony Offender statute and include murder, rape, aggravated battery, and aggravated assault among others.
Human Trafficking Victim
A human trafficking victim is defined as any person coerced into performing commercial sexual activity or providing free labor or services.
A human trafficking victim can prove their acts were committed while a victim of human trafficking by presenting official documentation showing the government considered the person to be a victim of human trafficking or by presenting clear and convincing evidence of such victimization to a court.
Official documentation would consist of law enforcement investigation reports or charging documents that identify specific individuals believed to be victims of a human trafficker.
If such official documentation does not exist, the victim would have to submit a sworn statement detailing their unreported victimization by a human trafficker.
Coercion has a very broad definition under the human trafficking victim statute, and includes:
- Using or threatening to use physical force against any person;
- Restraining, isolating, or confining any person against their will or threatening to do so;
- Requiring that debts be repaid through excessive labor or services;
- Destroying, concealing, removing, or confiscating another person's government or immigration identification documents;
- Causing or threatening to cause financial harm to any person;
- Enticing or luring any person by fraud or deceit; or
- Using drugs to exploit another person.
A victim of human trafficking must initiate the expungement with due diligence after the person has ceased being subjected to coercive acts related to the human trafficking.
In determining what constitutes due diligence, courts will look at the length of time since the person was a victim of human trafficking or sought social services to assist in escaping the human trafficking, subject to reasonable concerns for the safety of the victim, the victim's family members, and other human trafficking victims who might be jeopardized should the victim come forward.
Eligibility and Other Questions
Florida criminal expungement law is complicated and overlaps with Florida criminal sealing law. If you have further questions that still need answered, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions section.
Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby
If you were arrested or charged with a crime while a victim of human trafficking in Florida, please contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby today.
The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.