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A Guide for State Courts in Cases Involving Child Trafficking Victims Coerced into Criminal Behavior

Weller, Sharon.;Martin, John A. – 2015

This guide discusses difficulties faced by child trafficking victims coerced into criminal behavior by a trafficker and possible options for court processing of cases involving those juveniles. It begins by examining elements of human trafficking, types of coercions that have been employed by traffickers to maintain control over their victims, and common crimes that a trafficking victim may be coerced into committing. It explains that a juvenile adjudication for a crime committed under coercion by a trafficker can greatly increase the difficulty for the victim in gaining freedom from the trafficker. The following section of the guide discusses where juveniles coerced into criminal behavior by a trafficker might appear in the courts, including delinquency cases, status offenses, dependency cases, guardianship cases, and child placement cases. The possible consequences of a juvenile delinquency adjudication are then explored, including challenges related to eligibility for employment, eligibility for other State or federal benefits, eligibility for immigration relief for immigrant juvenile trafficking victims, and access to juvenile court records. Possible legal avenues of relief from the consequences of the criminal behavior for the juvenile are reviewed and include classifying juvenile trafficking visits as children in need of services or youthful offenders, designating coercion as negating criminal intent, and expunging a juvenile record. Finally, the report discusses challenges for the juvenile justice system to processing cases involving child victims of human trafficking. 33 references. (Author abstract modified)