Gov. Brown Signs Bill to Combat Human Trafficking

On September 28, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1610 into law. This bill, authored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, and sponsored by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, provides for a conditional examination when a material witness is a victim of, or witness to, a felony prosecution involving human trafficking.

Victims of human trafficking represent a highly vulnerable population and preservation of their testimony at an early stage of the prosecution process is often necessary to ensure a just adjudication of these cases. Trials are frequently delayed and a case may not go to trial for months or even years after it has been filed. Victims are often not residents of the county in which the offense take place, and are often trafficked by their exploiter from city to city and from state to state. In addition, victims may be subject to implied or actual threats from their exploiters as a means to coerce them into remaining with the exploiter or keeping them from testifying in court.

Existing law provides that a defendant or the prosecution may have witnesses examined conditionally under certain circumstances. By allowing the defendant and the district attorney the opportunity to conduct examinations of a witness at an early stage, before a trial ever begins, the state ensures that the testimony is preserved if the witness becomes unavailable at the time of the trial.

AB 1610 amends current law to include “a victim or witness to a felony prosecution involving human trafficking, commercial sex acts or forced labor or services” to the category of persons permitted to conditionally testify.

“The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office is proud to be the sponsor of AB 1610. My Office and my staff work tirelessly to combat human trafficking of our children. We continue to lead the charge in California and across this nation,” states D.A. O’Malley. “I thank Assemblymember Bonta for moving this important legislation forward and Governor Brown for signing it into law.”

Assemblymember Bonta states, “I am happy to team up with the Alameda County District Attorney on AB 1610 to preserve the testimony of victims in human trafficking cases. Victims of human trafficking are a very vulnerable population subject to being harassed, coerced, or physically harmed or killed to prevent them from testifying in criminal prosecutions. AB 1610 preserves testimony to ensure that offenders do not get away with abuse.”

The bill is supported the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, California District Attorneys Association, California Narcotics Officers’ Association, California Police Chiefs Association, City and County of San Francisco, Judicial Council and Peace Officers Research Association of California.

Contact: ADA Teresa Drenick
(510) 272-6280
Alameda County District Attorney’s Office

Posted on Sep 29, 2014