Audrie's Law Becomes California's Law
SACRAMENTO – Audrie's Law, legislation by Senator Jim Beall that reforms juvenile sex assault statutes to provide justice for victims, was ratified today by Gov. Brown.
Senate Bill 838 was inspired by the family of Audrie Pott, a Saratoga High student who took her life after she was sexually assaulted while unconscious by three boys. In the aftermath of the assault, pictures of her were electronically shared by the boys with some of her classmates, compounding her torment. The boys, who were tried behind closed doors in Santa Clara County juvenile court, were handed sentences ranging from 30 to 45 days.
"Thanks to the vision of Audrie's family -- Larry and Lisa Pott, and Sheila Pott -- we have changed the law to ensure victims of sexual assault can and will receive justice through our courts,'' Beall said. "Audrie's Law closes loopholes that have served to protect sex offenders, not victims.
"Getting this bill passed was a difficult challenge. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and his staff were instrumental in shaping this legislation and providing guidance on key legal issues.''
Under Audrie’s Law:
• Courtrooms will be more transparent, allowing public access to hearings of juveniles who are prosecuted for sex assault against an unconscious or developmentally disabled victim.
• Juveniles convicted of a specified sex assault would be required to complete a sex offender treatment program if there are suitable programs are available in the county where the crime occurred. All but a few counties in California offer these rehabilitative programs.
• Juveniles convicted of rape, sodomy, or oral copulation will no longer have the option of paying a fine or participating in community service or a treatment program in order for charges to be dismissed.
Audrie's Law reflects Beall's efforts during the past two years to balance the scales of justice for the survivors of sex assault. In addition to Audrie's Law, the Legislature passed this year two bills introduced by Beall, SB 924 and 926, to increase the statute of limitations for victims to press criminal charges and file for civil damages against perpetrators.
Today, the Governor also announced his ratification of SB 926, which raises the age ceiling from 28 to 40 for victims to seek criminal charges against their sex abusers. The bill gives victims more time to overcome and heal from the physical and mental trauma inflicted on them as children so they may report these crimes to authorities.
Conversely, the Governor vetoed SB 924, which would have given survivors of sexual abuse additional time to sue the people who harmed them. The bill proposed to raise the civil statute of limitations up to age 40 from the existing ceiling of 26 years old.