Trafficking Survivor Conviction Relief Initiative

What is record clearing, and why do survivors need it?

Criminal record relief provides an avenue for survivors to clear their records of charges obtained from crimes their traffickers forced, coerced, or compelled them to commit or which they committed as a means of survival or coping. The primary forms of record relief are sealing, expungement, vacatur, and clemency.

Often, as part of a trafficking scheme, a trafficker will coerce or force the person they’re exploiting into engaging in criminal activity.

These charges can vary widely in nature depending on how the trafficker chooses to exploit their victim.

Some examples of crimes could include:

  • Prostitution or sex-work charges
  • Drug possession or selling
  • Weapons carrying or selling
  • Identity and financial crimes
  • Shoplifting
  • Trespassing

What specific legal remedies are there for survivors?

In addition to general record sealing and expungement statutes, there are special statutes designed to help survivors clear their records of charges they received as a result of having been trafficked.

These statutes vacate offenses, meaning they remove any guilty findings.

  • M.G.L. 265 c. 59 covers offenses for
    • Prostitution or sex-work
    • Minor drug possession
  • Mass. Crim. Pro. 30(b) and relevant case law cover any offenses where trafficking or abuse was not known at the time of prosecution.

How do I know if I'm a survivor?

Human trafficking is compelled service.

Have you ever felt forced to work, where you received little to no pay, or had to give your pay to someone else?

For example:

  • Working at a job?
  • Around the house, cooking and cleaning?
  • Through sex or sex acts?

Have you ever accepted a job and then came to find out the job either didn't exist or was very different from what you were told it would be?

Has anyone ever taken your identification or travel documents from you and kept them where you couldn't access them in order to cause you to perform work or a service?

If you answered yes to any of these, please reach out to our unit at