U Visa/T Visa/VAWA
Survivors of human trafficking and of domestic or sexual violence often are charged and convicted of offenses that arose as a direct result of their exploitation. For noncitizens, the criminal record can cause deportation or destroy their eligibility for humanitarian visas. In the last five years, California has enacted multiple laws to avoid this injustice in criminal court, including a defense to a criminal charge and a vehicle to vacate a past conviction for survivors who were coerced to commit the offense, or in other cases mitigation of sentence. This advisory describes the new criminal laws and their immigration effect, so that criminal defenders and immigration and survivor advocates are aware of these options.