The National Council of Jewish Women-CA (NCJW-CA) and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) announced that Gov. Brown signed AB 1761 on Monday. Both NCJW-CA and CAST sponsored the legislation to create a new affirmative defense for human trafficking victims and survivors in California.
California is now the 35th state to pass legislation creating an affirmative defense specifically for human trafficking. However, California’s law offers broader protections to victims, as it covers all non-violent, non-serious offenses.
The new law will allow human trafficking victims and survivors to have charges against them dismissed if they can show that they committed the offense only as a direct result of their trafficking experience.
“We are excited that Gov. Brown signed AB 1761,” said Maya Paley, director of legislative and community engagement for NCJW-LA. “This new legislation is critically important for human trafficking victims and survivors who are often charged and convicted of crimes their traffickers forced or coerced them to commit. An affirmative defense will help victims avoid being criminalized for crimes they were not responsible for committing from the start, allowing them to focus on restarting their lives rather than face the long-term and negative consequences of being put through the criminal justice system.”
CAST and NCJW-LA are both pleased that SB 823 and SB 1322 were also signed by Brown on Monday.
Stephanie Richard, CAST policy and legal services director, said by providing an affirmative defense for survivors of human trafficking for all non-violent, non-serious offenses, the legislation protects victims of trafficking from being convicted of crimes their traffickers forced them to commit.
“It also prevents future harm to victims that stems from having a criminal record which can create barriers to securing employment and housing,” she said.
This year NCJW-CA and CAST sponsored additional provisions that take a broader approach, and supported other measures that Brown signed to increase safety for child victims.
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