Inslee lowers bar for trafficking victims to clear prostitution convictions

Jay Inslee. (AP file photo)

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Jay Inslee has approved a bill that would allow victims of sex trafficking to be cleared of a prostitution conviction even if they've committed other crimes as a result of being trafficked.

Under the measure, signed into law on Tuesday, any motion filed to vacate a prostitution conviction must prove "by a preponderance of the evidence" that the applicant's conviction, along with any other crimes committed, was a result of being a "victim of trafficking, promoting prostitution in the first degree or promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor."

Current law doesn't allow victims to vacate prostitution convictions if other crimes exist on their criminal record, which has proven to be rare in most trafficking cases.

At least 27 states have created procedures for survivors to expunge, vacate or seal criminal records related to being trafficked, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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