Senate Passes Toni Atkins’ Bill to Help Convict Sex Traffickers

Monday, May 1 2017

The California Senate today passed SB 230, legislation by Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) that will help prosecutors convict predators who traffic in sex slavery. The bill passed by a vote of 36-0.

SB 230 adds the crimes of sex trafficking, pimping and pandering to the list of exceptions to the rule prohibiting the introduction of character evidence during trial. The other exceptions to this rule include cases involving sexual offenses and cases of domestic violence, elder or dependent abuse and child abuse.

“As a result of the complex and exploitative relationship between victims and their traffickers, cases of human trafficking, pimping, and pandering are notoriously difficult to prosecute,” Atkins said on the Senate floor.

“Additionally,” she added, “much like victims of other sexual offenses, many victims of sex trafficking have been groomed, controlled or even brainwashed by their traffickers, and do not see themselves as victims – at least not initially. Thus, securing victim testimony in human trafficking trials is difficult.”

SB 230 allows prosecutors, subject to a judge’s discretion, to use a sex trafficker’s prior activities to help prove their current ones.

“I want to thank my Senate colleagues for their bipartisan support for this sensible measure to help bring sex traffickers to justice,” Atkins said after the vote.

SB 230 now heads to the state Assembly for consideration.