New Law to Protect Identities of Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in Court Documents

Friday, October 4, 2019

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – This week, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 800 by Assemblymember Kansen Chu (D-San Jose), which will protect the identity of survivors of domestic and other violent crimes who participate in the Secretary of State’s Safe at Home Program when filing civil court documents. The Safe at Home program allows survivors of domestic assault, sexual assault, stalking, and other specific crimes to apply for a substitute address to protect them from the perpetrators. However, currently when a participant files civil court documents, which include their name, addresses, and other identifying information, this information is public record, revealing their location to their assailant or potential assailants. AB 800 protects participants by allowing them to use a pseudonym and closes a loophole that would have allowed identifying information to be revealed through the court process. The Governor signing AB 800 is particularly timely as we support survivors during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

“AB 800 will protect the identities of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and will allow them to access the civil justice system without fear of future violence,” said Assemblymember Kansen Chu (D-San Jose). “Currently, there is a gap in protections because civil court filings are public records, which reveals participants’ name and identifying information to their assailants. This often means that survivors of violent crimes are too fearful to access the civil court system. The protections in AB 800 will provide many their day in court without fear that an assailant may find them through public records. I want to thank the Governor, my legislative colleagues, the sponsor, and advocates for their support of this life-changing legislation.”

AB 800 is sponsored by Calegislation. Calegislation has been providing assistance and education to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking for over thirty years.

“I would like to thank our legislature for extending the safety net to protect survivors of abuse from re-victimization and closing this privacy loophole, as well as the Governor for championing victim’s rights and signing AB 800,” said Dian Black of Calegislation. “Our clients avoid many options that are available to the non-survivor general population, such as filing court actions. Filing any court action is a deep emotional trigger for survivors as it is a reminder of the victimization by their abuser. The fear increases if they know their personal information becomes public. They know they may not survive if they are located. The extreme pressure to not file a court matter is on these survivors who are trying to move forward with their lives. The confidential filing allowed under AB 800 will remove this barrier to reporting a crime or filing a court matter.”

The Legislature established the Safe at Home program within the Secretary of State’s Office in 1998 to allow survivors of domestic violence to use a substitute address on public records to prevent their assailants or potential assailants from finding their location. Since then, the program has been expanded to include victims of sexual assault, stalking, elder abuse, human trafficking, reproductive health care service providers, employees, volunteers and patients.

CONTACT: Annie Pham (916) 319-2025

Assemblymember Kansen Chu is proud to represent the 25th Assembly District, comprised of the cities of Fremont, Milpitas, Newark, Santa Clara and San Jose.

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