Governor Brown Signs Toni Atkins’ Legislation to Help Convict Sex Traffickers and Prevent Victimization

October 14, 2017

Gov. Jerry Brown today signed SB 230, legislation by Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) that will allow victims of sex slavery to confront their traffickers in court and help prevent others from being violently abused.

Character evidence, which includes evidence of the past acts of a criminal defendant, is generally inadmissible at trial. But there are exceptions. For example, current law gives judges the discretion to allow such evidence for crimes classified as “sexual offenses.” SB 230 adds sex trafficking to the category of “sexual offenses.” 

“Because people victimized by sex trafficking often initially do not see themselves as victims, or because they fear their traffickers, it can be difficult to convince a current victim to testify against her trafficker, making it much harder to prosecute him,” Atkins said. “That’s why it is crucial to allow a past victim, who may have refused to testify when her case went to trial but has since recovered from her trauma, to testify against that same trafficker when he is prosecuted for abusing a new victim. Convicting him will save future victims.

“I thank Governor Brown for helping ensure that fewer people will be subjected to the repeated abuse and psychological control of this modern-day slavery.”