Governor Signs Important Public Safety Bills into Law

Recently, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law numerous public safety bills that the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office sponsored, authored, and supported.

District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley said, “I am proud to work with California's lawmakers as we strive together to make our communities and our state a safe place for all Californians. I wish to thank Governor Brown for signing these important bills into law.”

SB 420

Senate Bill 420 is groundbreaking legislation to combat human trafficking. Authored by Senator Bob Huff, sponsored by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley and co-sponsored by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, it amends the Penal Code to create specific distinctions between purchasers of commercial sex from adults, purchasers of sex from minors, and adults offering to engage in sex with a purchaser.

Previously, Penal Code Section 647(b) provides that any person who solicits, engages, or agrees to engage in an act of prostitution is guilty of a misdemeanor. There is no distinction between an adult selling sexual acts from an adult who is purchasing, or an adult purchasing sex from a minor. SB 420 changes this.

“SB 420 will provide much-needed data in our ongoing fight to put an end to sexual exploitation and trafficking,” stated DA O’Malley.

“This will provide law enforcement and the justice system with data that will aid in directing resources to best combat human trafficking. The bill will also pave the way for future laws aimed at curbing the demand for the purchase of sex in our communities.”

SB 1064

Senate Bill 1064 was authored by Senator Loni Hancock, sponsored by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, and co-sponsored by the McGeorge Legislative Public Policy Clinic and the State Coalition of Probation Organizations. This bill makes permanent a pilot project that helps sexually exploited minors in Alameda County.

Existing law authorizes the Counties of Alameda and Los Angeles to operate a project for the purposes of developing a comprehensive, replicative, multidisciplinary model to address the needs and effective treatment of commercially sexually exploited minors. SB 1064 extends the operation of this project indefinitely, allowing the Alameda County DA’s Office to extend our plan to address the needs of, and provide treatment to, CSEC victims. Since 2011, SafetyNet has linked more than 593 CSEC youth to vital services in the community and our office has prosecuted more than 509 traffickers.

AB 2498

Alameda County District Attorney’s Office helped with the passage of Assembly Bill 2498, authored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, to allow victims of human trafficking to shield their names, addresses, and images (and those of their immediate family members) from public records. AB 2498 also helps bring human traffickers to justice more quickly by allowing judges to hear these cases earlier on their court calendars.

"AB 2498 is essential for the safety and security of victims of human trafficking by ensuring their identities are kept confidential. It will also provide guidance to the county courts to hear time-sensitive human trafficking cases quickly, sending a clear message to traffickers that justice for these victims is a top priority," said DA O'Malley.

AB 1276

AB 1276, authored by Assembly Majority Whip Miguel Santiago and supported by our office, permits young victims of human trafficking to testify in criminal proceedings against their perpetrators via closed-circuit television. Current California law allows a minor – 13-years-of-age or younger – to provide testimony in another place via closed-circuit television if the court finds that the testimony will likely result in the recitation of specified crimes. These crimes, which often result in severe mental trauma and emotional distress, include sexual assault, violent felonies, and other serious felony offenses. AB 1276 adds human trafficking as a qualifying crime to this list and raises the age to 15 years for these vulnerable victims.

“In California, startling numbers of children are forced into sex and labor trafficking each year. They can encounter rape, abuse, isolation, confinement, emotional, and physical and psychological trauma, so testifying in court can be particularly traumatic for these victims. AB 1276 changes all that by allowing victims of human trafficking who are 15 years of age or younger to testify by means of a closed-circuit television link, thereby protecting these minors from suffering additional trauma,” said DA O’Malley.

AB 2499

Alameda County District Attorney’s Office co-sponsored AB 2499, by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, requires the Department of Justice to upgrade the Sexual Assault Forensic Tracking Program (SAFE-T) program. In 2014, faced with a mounting backlog of untested Sexual Assault Kits (SAKs) our office sponsored AB 1517 which created tight timelines for law enforcement agencies to submit to government crime labs to process SAKs. In 2015, the Department of Justice created a program of its own to process SAKs, but it does not permit victims access to information regarding the status of their SAK.

AB 2499 will give a victim of sexual assault the ability to track the process of their SAK kit while it is being analyzed and processed in the crime lab, via a secure, electronic process. This will provide victims the peace of mind by being able to see where their SAK is in the process and ensure law enforcement is doing their duty to analyze the SAK in a timely manner.

AB 1744

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office also supported AB 1744 by Assemblymember Jim Cooper. This bill requires the standardization of SAKs in California. We agree that it is time for the state’s crime labs to collaborate and agree upon one evidence kit to minimize confusion and the potential for error. Sexual assault victims and communities deserve the highest level of competency in response to this crime.


Posted on Oct 6, 2016