CRIME VICTIMS UNITED
The Voice for Victims and Public Safety
February 10, 2021
Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: ASSEMBLY BILL 341 (Boerner Horvath)
Dear Assemblywoman Horvath,
Crime Victims Untied is pleased to co-sponsor with the Office of the San Diego District Attorney Assembly Bill 341. On behalf of crime victims, we thank you for authoring this much needed legislation to extend protection to sexual assault victims.
Historically, victims of sexual assault endured even more trauma when dealing with the criminal justice system. Often these fragile yet brave victims found themselves attacked by defense attorneys challenging their credibility, morality, and sexual history. This led to the fact that sexual assault is one of the most brutal crimes and one of the most under reported crimes. Thankfully, the California Legislature in 1974 recognized that sexual assault victims needed broader protection and passed the state Rape Shield Law.
Consistent with changes in the times, California Rape Shield has been amended several times. Current law protects sexual assault victims from being discredited due to their sexual history. Furthermore, the law provided for procedural protections before evidence can be brought into trial. In present day there is a need to expand these protections as technology has expanded. AB 341 requests that this Legislature update this statute considering the exploding online and digital platforms.
Social media now spans two decades and has caused an unprecedented record of one’s intimate actions, words, and photos. These platforms have provided opportunities for defense attorneys to gather information to impugn the credibility of crime victims and cause additional and unneeded trauma. There is a pressing need to protect victims of sexual assault from electronic platforms being used in criminal proceedings.
The proposed amendment to Evidence code section 782 will not affect the defense attorneys’ access to social media evidence. Simply it requires a procedure to screen admissibility when the defense seeks to admit social media evidence. This procedure is critical to protect sexual assault victims from being revictimized.
This bill will truly help victims of sexual assault to have the courage to report and testify to protect our communities. Again, thank you on behalf of crime victims and thank you for sponsoring this bill.
Chair / Founder