The Legal Rights of NY Human Trafficking Victims

Criminal Conviction Vacatur Law Expanded

New York became the first state in 2010 to enact legislation allowing trafficking victims to vacate criminal convictions resulting from their trafficking. The law at the time only provided for vacatur of certain prostitution charges and other sex-related offenses. While sex trafficking is the most discussed form of human trafficking, a new law recognizes that the term is much broader. Governor Hochul in November, 2021 signed legislation that expands the types of criminal convictions an individual may apply to have vacated. Victims of human trafficking can now make a motion for vacatur for any criminal conviction, if they can show at the time of the offense it was a result of their trafficked status.

Civil Cause of Action for Human Trafficking Expanded

The Legal Rights of NY Human Trafficking VictimsNew York lawmakers also expanded an existing private right of action to allow victims of human trafficking to sue their perpetrators in civil court. The law, effective July 28, 2021, expands the civil remedies available to a victim to include punitive damages and injunctive relief within the discretion of the court. It also extends the statute of limitations to 15 years and contains several tolling provisions.

Providing a civil right of action can provide victims  with distinct advantages over criminal recourse alone. A private right of action provides victims, who have wrongly suffered, with compensation that comes directly from the person who harmed them. This empowers victims and allows them to proceed with their cases, even where the state may not proceed with criminal charges.  To learn more about the signs of human trafficking that  victims may exhibit and the services currently available for those in need, there are several resources available.

Contact experienced Buffalo, NY criminal defense attorneys Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC at (716) 333-5144 if you are charged with a sex crime or need to vacate a sex crime conviction related to your status as a human trafficking victim.

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