Expunging and Sealing Criminal History Records: An Overview for Prosecutors

This article is based on a review of expungement and sealing statutes in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as interviews with prosecutors in California, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. It seeks to assist prosecutors with evaluating current and proposed legislation. It also highlights examples of how prosecutors have taken the lead in assisting with expungement or sealing, either through collaborative events or developing automatic sealing. Expungement and Sealing- An Overview for Prosecutors

Prosecution Foundations: Educating the Judge and Jury About the Realities of Human Trafficking

Jane Anderson, Senior Attorney Advisor with AEquitas, facilitates a conversation with Miiko Anderson, AEquitas’ newest Attorney Advisor and a former Fresno County (CA) prosecutor with extensive experience prosecuting human trafficking cases. Jane and Miiko discuss various strategies that can enhance prosecutions where judges may not have experience with cases involving sex or labor trafficking and where jurors may have misconceptions or misunderstandings about the reality of what human trafficking looks like in their community.

This webinar is the first of a podcast-style webinar series, hosted by the IACP and AEquitas, that feature conversations with various prosecutors discussing foundational elements of trauma-informed human trafficking prosecutions.  This webinar is a part of IACP/OVC’s anti-human trafficking task force training catalog.

Beyond Language Access: Confronting Bias & Implementing Strategies to Ensure Justice in the Prosecution of Sexual Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking, and Human Trafficking Involving Survivors from Latine Communities

This web-based panel explores the ways in which bias against victims from Latine communities affects the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking. Panelists address the following topics:

-Effects of inequalities and challenges that Latine communites uniquely face as victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking;
-Barriers to reporting crimes, such as bias and stereotypes held by law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and jurors that can translate into disparate outcomes for victims through unfair credibility determinations;
-Impact of bias on endangering accurate assessments of the probability of conviction in cases, and collateral consequences on a victim’s ability to seek restoration;
-Necessary commitments offices must make to eradicate implicit bias among its staff and enhance recruitment, mentorship, and support opportunities for individuals who are Latine; and
-Strategies for prosecutors’ offices to enhance justice for victims by engaging in cultural humility, promoting criminal record relief, improving training, and ensuring accountability reinforced by data. 

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-22-GK-03987-MUMU awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

Commonwealth v. Rogers, 8 EAP 2020, Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Brief of Amici Curiae in Support of the Commonwealth

In this amicus brief, AEquitas, the Women’s Law Project, and 26 additional amici share their expertise in support of a determination that Pennsylvania’s Rape Shield Law does not permit the introduction of evidence of a complainant’s criminal record for prostitution-related offenses. Introducing this evidence would reinforce prejudicial gender and racial biases that would inhibit justice from prevailing and increase the burden of a criminal record on victims of sexual violence and exploitation.Amicus-Curiae-Brief-with-Time-Stamp

Shielding the Victim: Litigating Rape Shield Motions

Rape shield laws provide prosecutors with a powerful tool to counter defense attempts to introduce irrelevant and highly prejudicial evidence of a victim’s sexual history at trial. First codified into law in 1974 in the state of Michigan, rape shield provisions now exist in every jurisdiction in the United States. They seek to eliminate the influence of an archaic and dangerous body of law that protected only the chaste, perpetuated overly broad notions of consent, and left victims without justice. All rape shield laws require exclusion of the victim’s prior sexual conduct unless the evidence falls within a specified exception. However, these laws have not stopped defense attempts to stretch the limits of codified exceptions in order to admit evidence of the victim’s sexual behavior. Marginalized communities, in particular, have been negatively affected by rulings under these laws. Prosecutors must be vigilant in their efforts to safeguard victims’ privacy to ensure they are not humiliated, silenced, and blamed for their own assaults.

This presentation discusses the history and foundation of rape shield laws, identifies and discusses the most frequent areas of appellate litigation, and provides prosecutors with the tools to effectively litigate rape shield motions. Presenters also discuss trial strategies to employ if efforts to preclude information about a victim’s prior sexual conduct are unsuccessful.

As a result of this presentation, participants will be able to:
-Litigate rape shield motions to protect victim privacy
-Prosecute cases using an offender-focused approach
-Employ strategies to mitigate harm to the victim and the case when evidence of victim’s prior sexual conduct is admitted

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-22-GK-03987-MUMU awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

Agriculture’s Growing Problem: Investigating and Prosecuting Labor Trafficking and Co-Occurring Crimes in the Illicit Cannabis Industry

Despite the recent legalization of cannabis cultivation, possession, and use in many states across the country, the illicit market for the drug is still booming. The illicit cannabis industry is causing profound harm to the communities in which it operates—harm that goes far beyond simply producing off-the-books marijuana. Illicit market growers often seek to sidestep agricultural and worker regulations, causing widespread environmental harms, including blackouts, water theft, damage to flora and fauna, poisoned waterbeds, and wildfires. The human cost of illicit cannabis growth is even greater. Across the country, investigators have discovered laborers who have been forced to work in inhumane conditions—often without pay—and in close proximity to dangerous chemicals at illegal cannabis cultivation sites. Workers are often threatened with physical violence or deportation if they report to authorities.


Pursuing these crimes often requires a specialized skill set among prosecutors and investigators. This Strategies Newsletter demonstrates how investigators and prosecutors, working in conjunction with local and federal stakeholders, can ensure that labor traffickers in the illicit marijuana industry are held accountable for the full range of their conduct.Agriculture’s Growing Problem

Being Trafficked: What Prosecutors Need to Know About “the Life”

This article describes the pathways into exploitation and trafficking and the realities of the Life. It seeks to give context to the choices survivors make—or are unable to make—before and during their interactions with the criminal justice system. By examining survivors’ choices through the lens of their victimization, prosecutors will be better equipped to identify survivors, however they interact with the system; make informed prosecution decisions, and work with system partners to provide exit ramps from exploitation. Being Trafficked — What Prosecutors Need to Know About the Life

An Organized (Crime) Approach to Trafficking within the Illicit Massage Industry

Human trafficking within the illicit massage industry (IMI) is the organized and profitable exploitation of vulnerable individuals. Interrupting IMI criminal networks requires law enforcement to take an equally organized approach, including investigating and prosecuting financial and organized crimes. This presentation provides an overview of IMI organizational models as well as strategies to investigate illicit businesses using a financial and organized crime approach. Presenters share case examples of investigations, which highlight both lessons learned and keys to success.

From Jail, to Bail, to Sale: Trafficking and the Criminal Justice System

Traffickers target individuals whom they believe they can exploit with impunity – individuals who are accessible, vulnerable, and less likely to report their exploitation to law enforcement. As a result, individuals who have a criminal record, are under court supervision, or are otherwise subject to the authority of the criminal justice system are at higher risk for exploitation. Individuals who also struggle with addiction and substance use disorders are especially vulnerable to coercion. The Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report has identified “participants in court-ordered substance use diversion programs” as individuals especially vulnerable to sex and labor trafficking, and recent news reports have validated this assertion. Likewise, the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2022 National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking includes action items aimed at countering common trafficker tactics of manipulating and exploiting individuals with substance use disorders.

This presentation identifies trafficking schemes that involve recruitment from local jails and prisons, as well as from court-sanctioned treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration. The presenters focus on strategies to address victim safety concerns and investigate and prosecute trafficking that intersects with the criminal justice system. Throughout the discussion, the presenters underscore the importance of trauma-informed practices and a multidisciplinary response that includes meaningful access to survivor-led programing and low-barrier services, including appropriate healthcare.

Learning Objectives:
-Identify how traffickers identify, recruit, and coerce victims from jails, prisons, and court-ordered programs.
-Investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases in which victims have intersected with the criminal justice system.
-Collaborate with allied professionals to overcome barriers and provide meaningful access to justice for systems-involved victims.

This presentation was produced by AEquitas under 15POVC-21-GK-03263-HT, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this presentation are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

A Course of Exploitation: The Intersection of Stalking and Sex Trafficking

When offenders engage in a course of conduct that includes sexual exploitation, they perpetrate dangerous and often misidentified and misunderstood crimes, including stalking and sex trafficking. Both crimes are highly contextual in nature and require a nuanced analysis of the relationship between the offender and the victim, as well as the various tactics utilized by abusers to control, intimidate, and traumatize victims with impunity. Stalking behaviors are used to force or coerce individuals to engage in commercial sexual activities or to intimidate and prevent them from engaging with the criminal justice system.

Presenters explore the dynamics of stalking and sex trafficking. They focus on the importance of understanding the context in which both crimes occur and the common tactics used by perpetrators. This presentation provides strategies to improve the identification of these “course of conduct” crimes, increase offender accountability through successful investigations and prosecutions, and minimize further harm to victims and survivors by ensuring they are connected with meaningful services and tools to plan for their safety.

At the end of this presentation, participants will be better able to:
-Recognize the intersections between stalking and sexual exploitation
-Investigate and prosecute crimes of stalking and sexual exploitation
-Connect victims and survivors to meaningful services, including safety planning


This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-21-GK-02220-MUMU and 2017-TA-AX-K074 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this program are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.