This non-State-specific manual provides general information to guide lawyers who are new to post-conviction relief practices for survivors of human trafficking, with attention to vacatur laws enacted by many States, which provide an opportunity for certain trafficking survivors to have their criminal convictions vacated when they involve crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers, such as prostitution.
Although many vacatur laws limit post-conviction relief to survivors of trafficking into prostitution, they represent the beginning of a paradigm shift that may evolve to include post-conviction relief for survivors of all forms of trafficking and the institution of steps that will facilitate their identification as survivors of human trafficking and the prevention of their being charged with criminal acts forced on them by their traffickers. This guide is intended for use by legal practitioners, such as public defenders, legal services lawyers, pro-bono attorneys, and other stakeholders involved in representing trafficking survivors in vacatur proceedings. It provides general information to lawyers who are new to post-conviction relief practices and/or working with trafficking survivors. This introduction to post-conviction practice for survivors of human trafficking provides basic definitions of important concepts and provisions of typical vacatur laws, important filing considerations for motion practices, and best practices for using a trauma-informed and survivor-centered approach to client interviewing and representation, along with other best practices for advocates. Appended sample pleadings, published decisions, and helpful information sources
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