Senate Bill 916 Continues DA O’Malley’s Advocacy on Sexual Assault Reform
SACRAMENTO, CA – After unanimous support in the Legislature, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office announces that a bill sponsored by District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, Senate Bill 916, authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva, has been signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.
SB 916 empowers survivors with critical information following a sexual assault and allows survivors to be able to make informed decisions regarding steps they wish to take, or not, in the post-assault process.
“Sexual assault survivors have a right to know what their options are in the aftermath of these horrific crimes,” said DA O’Malley. “I am grateful to Senator Leyva for introducing this bill and moving it forward. The Senator has been a vigilant advocate for the rights of women and particularly for the rights and empowerment of victims of sexual assault crimes. I was proud to sponsor SB 916 and have worked with Senator Leyva once again to bring justice and respect to victims and survivors of interpersonal violence.”
“Ever since I authored now enacted legislation to eliminate the statute of limitations for rape and related crimes in 2016, I have continued to spearhead vital legislation that will further empower survivors of rape and sexual assault in California,” said Senator Leyva. “SB 916 is a logical next step, as it ensures that survivors receive clear information regarding what their rights are in a concise and understandable manner. I thank Governor Newsom, legislators on both sides of the aisle, bill sponsor Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, and the many supporters for standing alongside Senator Leyva survivors of sexual assault and supporting SB 916.”
Following a sexual assault, survivors in California may choose to undergo a forensic medical examination to collect evidence retained in a sexual assault kit. Unfortunately, far too many kits have historically remained untested in police evidence rooms. California law already requires law enforcement to collect the kits, log the kit into the newly created Department of Justice SAFE-T system, submit the kit for testing within 20 days, and the crime lab must test the kit within 120 days. The victim of the sexual assault crime can track the progress of the forensic kit through a private portal in SAFE-T. California law additionally indicates that the law enforcement agency shall also inform the survivor of the status of the DNA testing of the sexual assault kit evidence or other crime scene evidence from the survivor’s case.
California Penal Code Section 680.2 mandates that all local law enforcement agencies develop a card that explains in clear language the rights of sexual assault survivors and makes this card accessible to each provider in its jurisdiction responsible for medical evidentiary or physical examinations arising out of sexual assault. SB 916 will update California law to require that survivors —via the card — be made aware that they cannot be compelled to testify in court. This now-signed measure will also give survivors the right to be able to access the Department of Justice SAFE-T portal to track the status of their own forensic kit.
This legislation is the next step after several successful bills sponsored by DA O’Malley to defend and empower survivors of sexual assault. In 2021, SB 215, also authored by Senator Leyva, successfully passed, and allowed survivors of sexual assault to track their evidence kits. In 2020, DA O’Malley cosponsored AB 1927, which protects sexual assault survivors from separate prosecution for drug and alcohol related crimes that occurred at the time of the assault. In 2019, DA O’Malley sponsored SB 22, also authored by Senator Leyva, which now requires the prompt testing of sexual assault evidence kits.
DA O’Malley is a statewide and national leader who has long fought for the elimination of the sexual assault kit backlog not only in Alameda County, but throughout the nation. DA O’Malley’s advocacy has also been key to securing federal funding that enables local law enforcement agencies around the country to identify and eliminate their own sexual assault kit backlogs.
Contact: Public Information Officer Angela Ruggiero // Angela.Ruggiero@acgov.org // (510) 919-0081