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Expungement/Sealing of Records and Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE)

Erasing Records for Survivors of Human Trafficking

Through Ohio Revised Code 2953.36 (formerly 2953.38 -it was renumbered by 134th GA, SB188) and 2953.521, the Ohio Legislature created an expungement process for survivors of sex trafficking who were compelled or forced to commit illegal acts. Unlike sealed records, expunged records are truly destroyed, deleted, and erased, in all physical or electronic forms.  In some courts human trafficking expungement is called a “Safe Harbor Expungement.”

Expungement Help from the Reentry Clinic - University of Akron School of Law

The Human Trafficking Clinic assists victims of human trafficking to expunge (destroy) their criminal records. Typically, victims of human trafficking are likely to have convictions, which were forced upon them by the traffickers. As a part of this clinic, our students conduct investigations and screen for potential clients. The clinic assists with filing expungement applications with the court. 

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking in Ohio is a fast-growing and highly underreported form of modern day slavery. Often, victims are unaware that they are in a human trafficking situation; they may perceive the traffickers as protectors, boyfriends/girlfriends, relatives, friends, or landlords. Traffickers use evolving methods of control, including physical violence, sexual abuse, and drugs to compel victims to commit illegal acts like prostitution for their traffickers’ financial gain. As a result of being trafficked, victims suffer long-term trauma and accumulate criminal records.

Source: Ohio Justice and Policy Center Criminal Records Manual

Who are the Victims?

The media often portrays human trafficking as a “foreign” problem that takes place in developing countries—far away from the United States. This is actually a misconception.Source: Ohio Justice & Policy Center Criminal Records Manual

Ohio has the sixth highest rate of human traffcking cases reported. Only California, Michigan, New York, Texas and Florida have more trafficking cases. Source: National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Ohio is especially vulnerable to the human trafficking epidemic for two reasons. First, Ohio has both large urban centers and rural counties that encompass a large transient and immigrant population, which can make it more difficult for law enforcement and regulatory officers to understand and combat the problem. Second, Ohio’s five major highways are used as a tool for traffickers to transport and sell youth and adults among other states and the Canadian border. Source: Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force Report, 2015.

Foreign national victims of human trafficking face significant barriers to accessing services. While immigration remedies are available to undocumented survivors, the wait time to receive remedies can last up to and over one year. This prevents survivors from accessing health care for an extended period of time, thus delaying critical treatment. To respond to this gap, the Ohio Department of Medicaid created a new state-funded medical assistance category for victims of human trafficking who are not U.S. citizens. Under Rule 5160:1-5-08, an individual is eligible for this assistance if the individual has applied for or is in the process of preparing to file for a Tvisa, is an Ohio resident, and has a monthly income at or below 100 percent of the of federal poverty level. As of April 2021, 11 human trafficking victims had enrolled in this program. Source

If you think you are a victim of human trafficking...

If you think you are a victim of human trafficking ...National Human Trafficking Hotline

If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.

Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free hotline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-373-7888 or Text INFO or HELP to BeFree (233733).

If you have information about human trafficking ... 

Report it to the Ohio Attorney General's Office at 1-855-BCI-OHIO (224-6446), so the attorney general may work with local law enforcement to arrest and prosecute traffickers. 

Web Resources

Instructions for expunging are in the OJPC's Criminal Records Manual - see pages 16-18 regarding human trafficking safe harbor expungement.

A guide prepare by OJPC for Ohio's human trafficking survivors.