Justice for Victims Act Passes Senate committee

Posted at 4:44 PM, Apr 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-12 19:44:21-04

The Senate Public Safety Committee today passed important bipartisan legislation by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that seeks to end the statute of limitations for rape and related crimes in California.  Specifically, SB 813 aims to ensure justice for victims and survivors of felony sexual offenses by allowing the indefinite criminal prosecution of rape, sodomy, lewd or lascivious acts, continuous sexual abuse of a child, oral copulation, and sexual penetration.

Current California law generally limits the prosecution of a felony sexual offense to only 10 years after the offense is committed, unless DNA evidence is found which then offers a victim additional time. 

“I introduced the ‘Justice for Victims Act’ earlier this year for a simple reason: It will help to ensure that rapists and sexual predators are not able to evade justice simply because of a shortened statute of limitations,” Senator Leyva said.  “Survivors of sexual assault should always have the ability to seek justice in a court of law, even years after the alleged crime was committed.  SB 813 reinforces California’s commitment to standing with women, as they represent the vast majority of victims of rape and sexual assault.  This critically important bill would not change the burden of proof, though it would simply offer victims more time to come to terms with the horrible crime committed against them and then build up the courage to the authorities to seek justice. I would like to thank San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos, California Women’s Law Center Executive Director Betsy Butler, Assemblymember Mike Gipson, women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred and all SB 813 supporters for standing on the side of justice for victims.”

According to the United States Department of Justice, only two in 100 rapists will be convicted of a felony and spend any time in prison.  The other 98 percent will never be punished for their crime.

SB 813 has already received strong support from a bipartisan group of legislators, including principal coauthors Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson), Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Carpinteria) and Assemblymember Autumn R. Burke (D-Inglewood), as well as coauthors Assemblymember Rocky J. Chávez (R-Oceanside) and Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale). 

“As a Principal co-author on Senate Bill 813, I am proud to support this legislation,” noted Assemblymember Gipson.  “Sexual assault is one of the most personally invasive crimes that can be committed against someone leading to deep pain and life-long trauma. When we think about the emotional pain that is held by the survivors of sexual assault, it is only made worse by the knowledge that you are helpless in receiving justice. SB 813 is long overdue, but will serve to ensure that if these crimes happen in the future, the state of California will have an effective remedy for the survivors who deserve closure. I serve as a proud male ally on this issue.”

As a bill co-sponsor, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office continues to offer strong support to ensure success of this public safety legislation that will assist victims in California.

“I was pleased to testify today in support of SB 813 since it ensures that rapists are held accountable for their actions,” stated San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos. “Now that this historic bill has passed the Senate Public Safety Committee, I look forward to continue working with Senator Leyva in the months ahead to make sure that this bill is enacted into law.”

The “Justice for Victims Act” is co-sponsored by San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos and the California Women’s Law Center (CWLC) and supported by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, California Police Chiefs Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California, Crime Victims United of California, End Rape SOL, National Association of Social Workers, among others.

Following the Senate Public Safety Committee hearing, Senator Leyva held a press conference to discuss the outcome of the hearing and next steps.