COLUMBUS—State Representative Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) applauded the Ohio House for yesterday’s passage of Senate Bill 4, legislation that establishes a procedure by which victims of human trafficking can apply to the courts for expungement of crimes they were forced to commit due to their trafficking.
Senate Bill 4, sponsored by State Senators Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), aims to expand opportunities for expungement and intervention for victims of human trafficking who are working to start over. For individuals convicted of any of six specified offenses, including solicitation and prostitution, the bill expands the statutory language regarding the criminal offenses for which records may be expunged. This process clarifies that the provision generally applies to any offense whereby the offender’s participation was the result of being a victim of human trafficking. The bill stipulates that this process is unavailable to expunge the most serious offenses of aggravated murder, murder, or rape.
Rep. Gavarone introduced companion legislation in the House that makes reforms in this same area. During House discussion of the bill, she spoke in support of its passage on the floor.
“Unfortunately, our legal system currently makes it tough for victims of human trafficking to rebuild their lives because of a court record that follows them for crimes they committed under duress,” Rep. Gavarone said. “This legislation gives our courts another tool that can be used to provide better protection and services to help human trafficking victims get a fresh start on their new lives.”
Senate Bill 4 is supported by a host of individuals and organizations including State Auditor Dave Yost, Judge Paul Herbert, the Office of the Ohio Public Defender, the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, and several victims’ rights groups.