Human trafficking survivors are now eligible for expungement under a law enacted in 2020. The Norcross Law Firm and its team of interns worked on helping victims of human trafficking to seal their records. The term "expungment" is commonly used but can be a misnomer. Criminal records cannot be "deleted" and will likely always show up when the govenment or law enforcement runs a background check. However, citizens can have their records "restricted" or sealed from then general public through a court order ordering the clerks and other agencies reporting criminal histories to not share this information with the public. This can be a helpful tool to get a prior arrest or, in some qualifiying cases, a conviction off your record. If you are a survivor (we are moving away from labeling people as "victims") of human trafficking, I would encourage you to let your public defender or private attorney know this and discuss the pros and cons of disclosing this to the prosecution. Many district attorneys are becoming familiar with the practices of human traffickers, who often use their subjects to commit crimes, such as holding on to drugs, selling drugs, stealing and even assaulting and coeercing others to work for the trafficker. If you were under the control of a trafficker when you commited an offense, the prosecution may be inclined to drop the charge without requiring you to testify against the trafficker. O.C.G.A. 35-3-37 has a provision allowing for a motion or petition to restrict criminal record for persons who were being trafficked when the crime occurred. Our office had a very thorough and detailed training with former human trafficking prosecutor Camila Zolfaghari, who is now the executive director of non-profit organization Street Grace, which combats human trafficking. We are exciting to join the fight against human trafficking and help survivors clean up their records so they can move forward in their lives.
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