Can A Human Trafficking Victim Expunge a Criminal Charge If They Were Found Guilty In Florida?
Updated: Apr 3
Yes, if the offense was committed while the trafficking victim “was part of a human trafficking scheme” or “at the direction of the operator” of a human trafficking scheme, then the criminal charge or criminal record may be eligible for expungement. This includes not only criminal charges that were dropped or where adjudication was withheld--it also includes criminal charges that the trafficking victim was found guilty or convicted of.
In other words, if you are a trafficking victim and you were charged with a crime as a result of and during the time that you were a victim, you may be able to expunge the charge from your record, even if you were found guilty of the charge.
This does not necessarily only apply to prostitution charges; it can apply to any criminal charge (besides the ones that are listed below) that happened while you were a trafficking victim, as long as the arrest or charge happened as part of the trafficking or at the direction of a trafficker.
What happens when a record is expunged?
If the record is expunged, then it is destroyed and all files associated with it (this includes the local police reports, supplemental reports, entries with the Clerk of Court, and any files with the local police or State Attorney’s Office). There is only one entity that may have the record: The Florida Department of Law Enforcement may still maintain a record but it is confidential and unable to be viewed by the public.
Florida law says that you can deny there ever even was an arrest, a criminal case, or a criminal charge
If you have a criminal record expunged in Florida you can deny that the case ever even existed. You can also even deny that you were ever arrested for the charges--to potential employers, landlords, on apartment or rental applications, etc. There are some exceptions: If one is applying for a law enforcement position, a position working with a Florida agency dealing with children or the elderly, a job as a teacher, or are a defendant in a criminal prosecution, etc., it needs to be disclosed. So be sure to speak to an expungement attorney BEFORE you deny the record.
What if I no longer live in that part of Florida or I do not want to go to court?
You do not have to go to court. If you no longer live in the part of Florida where you were originally charged and/or you cannot or do not want to go back there, you do not have to. Florida law says that you can appear at any court hearing over the phone.
There are certain charges that Florida law says a victim of human trafficking cannot have expunged. The charges are:
· Sexual battery
· Aggravated child abuse
· Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult
· Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
· Aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person or disabled adult
· Aggravated manslaughter of a child
· Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb
· Armed burglary
· Aggravated battery
· Aggravated stalking
Our lawyers have a tremendous amount of experience in the sealing and expungement of criminal records in Florida. Please visit the Soler & Simon Expunge page for a ton of information about expungement and to learn more about our law firm.