NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A459
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to vacating
convictions for offenses resulting from sex trafficking, labor traffick-
ing and compelling prostitution
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
To strengthen protections for victims of sex trafficking, labor traf-
ficking, compelling prostitution, and trafficking in persons, who are
convicted of a range of offenses as a result of that trafficking or
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 1 sets forth legislative intent to expand to other offenses New
York's existing law that offers vacatur of convictions for prostitu-
tion-related offenses that were a result of being a victim of traffick-
Section 2 amends CPL § 440.10(1)(i) to allow vacating of a conviction
where the offense was a result of sex trafficking, labor trafficking,
compelling prostitution and trafficking in persons. It amends CPL §
440.10(1)(i)(i) to remove language that limits such a motion to defend-
ants who are no longer victims of trafficking or have already sought
victim services. CPL § 440.10 (1)(i)(ii) is renumbered as CPL § 440.10
(1)(i) (i) and amended to include documentation with regard to sex traf-
ficking, labor trafficking and aggravated labor trafficking as addi-
tional grounds for a presumption that a victim was a victim of traffick-
ing. It amends CPL § 440.10(1)(0(ii) to provide confidentiality for
motions to vacate a judgement, and adds a new CPL § 440.10(1) (iii) to
allow consolidation of proceedings in multiple courts.
Section 3 amends CPL § 440.10 (6) to require that judgments be vacated
on the merits because the defendant's participation in the offense was a
result of having been a victim of trafficking.
Section 4 provides an immediate effective date, except that new subpara-
graph (ii) takes effect 60 days after enactment into law.
In 2010, New York State passed an historic law allowing victims of human
trafficking to vacate prostitution-related criminal convictions that
were directly tied to their victimization. The law recognized that these
convictions should be vacated because the conviction itself was unjust.
Victims of human trafficking were allowed a second chance at life, free
from the criminal records forced upon them by their traffickers. Twenty
seven states have since followed New York's example with similar laws.
Several states have now gone beyond New York's law, to make this relief
available not just for prostitution-related offenses but for all
offenses related to the trafficking. This bill follows that example.
Trafficking victims may be arrested and prosecuted for a variety of
offenses resulting from trafficking. A common example is possessing
false documents, usually at the direction of their trafficker, who has
confiscated their true documents as part of the exerted coercion.
The CPL is further amended to protect the confidentiality of information
contained in motions brought under the statute. This explicit and manda-
tory protection is necessary to meet the legislation's goals of severing
victims of human trafficking from their traumatic past, and to ensure
that victims of human trafficking will not be endangered by the process
of vacating their convictions. Courts may also take other action, such
as offering a closed courtroom for court appearances.
The bill emphasizes that these convictions should be vacated because of
the circumstances of the offenses and convictions, not because of a
victim's post-conviction circumstances.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2016: A.10353 Referred to Codes
2017-2018: A4540 Passed Assembly / Senate Rules
2019-2020: A6983B Passed Assembly / Senate Rules
Immediate, except that new CPLR§ 440.10(1)(iii) takes effect 60 days
after enactment into law.