AB-124: Justice for Survivors
AB 124 (Kamlager) would give courts a holistic view of survivors and provide opportunities to consider a survivor’s age, history of trauma, and experiences throughout the legal process.
Expand Affirmative Defense
Human trafficking survivors who commit a nonviolent offense can assert an affirmative defense, allowing them to present facts which either justify or excuse their actions. AB 124 would expand affirmative defense to encompass survivors who are coerced to commit an offense as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking, intimate partner violence, or sexual violence at the time and had a reasonable fear of harm.
Meaningfully engage the impact of trauma at sentencing
AB 124 underscores the devastating impact of victimization. Recognizing the enduring toll of trauma that is felt by survivors, AB 124 creates a presumption that judges should start at the lower term when sentencing a survivor to prison.
Take an informed approach to the effects of trauma when imposing sentence enhancements
In California, judges may decide to apply enhancements at sentencing to increase the total incarceration term based on aspects of how the crime was committed or an individual’s prior criminal record. When sentencing a survivor to prison, AB 124 directs a sentencing judge to thoughtfully engage with the impact of trauma, and not impose a discretionary enhancement where doing so is contrary to the interests of justice.
Consider Trauma when deciding Whether To Reduce a Survivor’s Sentence
AB 124 allows courts to reduce sentencing post-conviction after considering survivor’s experiences of childhood trauma, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking as contributing factors in the commission of the offense.
Vacatur laws – which repeal previous arrests, charges or convictions – can help recognize that survivors were not responsible for the criminalized activity they were forced to engage in. California’s current vacatur process is complicated and limited to nonviolent convictions. These barriers can prevent survivors from accessing employment & housing. AB 124 expands the vacatur law to allow survivors of human trafficking, intimate partner violence, and/or sexual violence to petition the court to vacate convictions and expunge arrests for any criminalized activity related to their experiences of violence.
AB 124 creates meaningful pathways to justice
This bill would impact survivors who are facing, serving, or have served prison time.
Nothing about this bill requires leniency or a not guilty verdict.
The provisions in AB 124 are all about fact finding. It is ultimately up to a jury or judge to consider a survivor’s experiences and the facts of the case to determine whether mitigation is appropriate.
Support AB 124!
Call your Senate Public Safety members! Find phone numbers here.
You can use this script:
Hello, my name is [NAME] from [CITY/ DISTRICT NUMBER]. I am calling to urge the member to support survivors of violence, including intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking, by voting Aye in Senate Public Safety Committee. Thank you!