BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                             AB 849
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          Date of Hearing:   April 9, 2013

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
                                Bob Wieckowski, Chair
                 AB 849 (Garcia) - As Introduced:  February 21, 2013
           
          SUBJECT :  PROTECTION OF VICTIMS OF ABUSE OF AN ELDER OR  
          DEPENDENT ADULT: ADDRESS CONFIDENTIALITY

           KEY ISSUE  :  SHOULD PROTECTIONS CONTAINED IN THE "SAFE AT HOME"  
          PROGRAM, WHICH CURRENTLY SAFEGUARDS THE HOME ADDRESSES OF  
          DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND STALKING VICTIMS, BE EXTENDED TO VICTIMS  
          OF ABUSE OF AN ELDER OR DEPENDENT ADULT?

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  As currently in print this bill is keyed fiscal.
                                          
                                      SYNOPSIS
          
          This non-controversy over and broadly-supported measure seeks to  
          protect the confidentiality of addresses of those persons who  
          are victims of abuse of an elder or dependent adult by bringing  
          such individuals within the protective umbrella of the Safe at  
          Home program, a program that has received strong bipartisan  
          support over the years.  The Secretary of State (SOS)  
          administers the "Safe at Home" address confidentiality program  
          to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and  
          stalking, as well as reproductive care providers, employees,  
          volunteers and patients.  The purpose of this program is to  
          enable state and local agencies to respond to requests for  
          public records without disclosing the names or locations of  
          participants in the program.  This bill is consistent with  
          existing law relating to the issuance of civil protective orders  
          that protect victims of abuse of an elder or dependent adult,  
          which presumes that victims of abuse of an elder or dependent  
          adult fall under the protective umbrella of the Safe at Home  
          program.  According to the author, the bill seeks to close this  
          gap in the law by explicitly extending the protections of the  
          "Safe at Home" program to victims of abuse of an elder or  
          dependent adult.  The bill was supported by elder protection  
          groups, many law enforcement agencies, and consumer groups.   
          There is no known opposition.       

           SUMMARY  :  Extends to the victims of abuse of an elder or  
          dependent adult the address confidentiality protections  
          contained in the Safe at Home program.  Specifically,  this bill  :








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          1)Includes victims of elder or dependent adult abuse within the  
            address confidentiality protections contained in the Safe at  
            Home program.

          2)Defines "abuse of an elder or dependent adult" as an act  
            defined in Section 15610.07 of the Welfare and Institutions  
            Code.  

          3)Provides that the Secretary of State shall designate state and  
            local agencies and nonprofit agencies that provide counseling  
            and shelter services to victims of abuse of elder or dependent  
            adult to assist persons applying to be program participants.  



           EXISTING LAW  : 

          1)Establishes the Safe at Home address confidentiality program  
            within the SOS's office in order to enable state and local  
            agencies to both accept and respond to requests for public  
            records without disclosing the changed name or address of a  
            victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.   
            Permits any such adult victim, or parent or guardian acting on  
            behalf of a minor or incapacitated person, to apply through a  
            community-based victims' assistance program to have an address  
            designated by the SOS as his or her substitute mailing  
            address.  (Government Code Section 6205 et seq.  All further  
            statutory references are to this Code, unless otherwise  
            indicated.) 

          2)Similarly, allows reproductive health care providers,  
            employees, volunteers, and patients to apply to the address  
            confidentiality program through a community-based victims'  
            assistance program, as specified.  (Section 6125 et seq.)  

          3)Requires that the SOS certify a successful applicant as a  
            program participant for four years following the date of  
            filing, unless the certification is withdrawn or invalidated  
            before that date, except reproductive health care services  
            facilities volunteers shall be certified until six months from  
            the last date of volunteering with the facility.  Provides  
            that the SOS shall establish a renewal procedure.  (Sections  
            6206(c), 6215.2(e).)  









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          4)Provides that any person who knowingly provides a false or  
            incorrect statement in an application is guilty of a  
            misdemeanor.  (Section 6206(e).)  

          5)Provides that any records or documents pertaining to a program  
            participant shall be retained and held confidential for a  
            period of three years after termination of certification of  
            participation in the program, and then destroyed, as  
            specified.  (Section 6206.5.)  

          6)Defines 'abuse of an elder or dependent adult' as either of  
            the following:

             a)   Physical abuse, neglect, financial abuse, abandonment,  
               isolation, abduction, or other treatment with resulting  
               physical harm or pain or mental suffering.

             b)   The deprivation by a care custodian of goods or services  
               that are necessary to avoid physical harm or mental  
               suffering.  (Welfare and Institutions Code Section  
               15610.07.)

           COMMENTS  :  This non-controversy over and broadly-supported bill  
          seeks to protect the confidentiality of addresses of those  
          persons who are victims of abuse of an elder or dependent adult  
          by bringing such individuals within the protective umbrella of  
          the Safe at Home program.  

           Background on the "Safe at Home" Program  .  Pursuant to SB 489  
          (Alpert) Chap. 1005 (Stats. 1998), the confidential address  
          program, commonly referred to as the "Safe at Home" program, was  
          created to protect victims of domestic violence from the  
          disclosure of address information.  The "Safe at Home" program  
          allows victims of domestic violence or stalking, who satisfy  
          certain criteria, to request an alternate address.  The SOS  
          provides a substitute, publically accessible address for these  
          victims while protecting their actual residences or locations.   
          The SOS also acts as the program participants' agent for service  
          of process and forwards mail received to the victim's actual  
          address.  The SOS is prohibited from disclosing any address for  
          the participant, other than the designated program address,  
          unless requested to do so by a law enforcement agency, by a  
          court order, or if certification for participation in the  
          program is cancelled.  A program participant, once certified,  
          may remain in the program for up to four years, after which  








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          re-certification is required.  

          The Legislative findings codified as part of SB 489 provides as  
          follows:

               The Legislature finds that persons attempting to  
               escape from actual or threatened domestic violence  
               frequently establish new addresses in order to  
               prevent their assailants or probable assailants from  
               finding them.  The purpose of this chapter is to  
               enable state and local agencies to respond to  
               requests for public records without disclosing the  
               location of a victim of domestic violence, to enable  
               interagency cooperation with the Secretary of State  
               in providing address confidentiality for victims of  
               domestic abuse, and to enable state and local  
               agencies to accept a program participant's use of an  
               address designated by the Secretary of State as a  
               substitute mailing address.  (Section 6205.)  
           
           The Safe at Home program has been expanded several times since  
          its enactment.  The program was first expanded in 2000 to  
          include victims of stalking.  (SB 1318 (Alpert) Chap. 562,  
          Stats. 2000.)  In 2002, the program was expanded to include  
          reproductive health care services providers, employers,  
          volunteers and patients with the purpose of preventing potential  
          acts of violence from being committed against those who assist  
          in the field of reproductive health care services and the  
          patients seeking those services.  (AB 797 (Shelley) Chap. 380,  
          Stats. 2002.)  The program was again expanded in 2006 to include  
          victims of sexual abuse.  (SB 1062 (Bowen) Chap. 639, Stats.  
          2006.)  Initially, the Safe at Home program was set to expire on  
          its sunset date in 2005.  However, the program has been extended  
          on several occasions until in 2010 the Legislature extended the  
          program indefinitely by removing its sunset date.  (SB 1233  
          (Oropeza) Chap. 326, Stats. 2010.)  

          The SOS is required to report to the Legislature each year on  
          the operation of the Safe at Home program.  According to its  
          most recent annual report, the program has served 6,260  
          participants since 1999.  The number of participants on January  
          1, 2011 was 2,735.  According to the SOS, the program is  
          designed to help victims and survivors of domestic violence,  
          stalking or sexual assault to start new lives in peace and to  
          provide added protections to their overall safety plans.  








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           Who Qualifies for the Safe at Home Program?   To be eligible to  
          become a Safe at Home program participant, an individual,  
          domiciled in California, must file an application containing a  
          sworn statement that he or she has good reason to believe that  
          he or she, or a minor child on whose behalf the applicant is  
          made is a victim of stalking and that the applicant fears for  
          his or her safety or his or her children's safety.  The  
          applicant must also include either a police report indicating  
          the applicant is a victim of stalking, evidence from a legal,  
          clerical, medical, or other professional from whom the applicant  
          has sought assistance in dealing with the alleged stalking, or  
          any other evidence that supports the sworn statement.  Finding  
          these requirements to be too restrictive to achieve the broader  
          goals of the Safe at Home program, this bill seeks to extend the  
          program to victims of abuse of an elder or dependent adult.  

           Extending the Safe at Home Program to Victims of Abuse of an  
          Elder or Dependent Adult.   This bill will allow victims of abuse  
          of an elder or dependent adult to participate in the program,  
          assuming that they meet the same documentation requirements that  
          existing law demands of domestic violence, stalking and sexual  
          assault victims.  According to the author, "there are cases in  
          which an abused elder has moved to a new address to escape a  
          persistent abuser and wants to keep the abuser from finding him  
          or her.  In other cases, a conservator may need to move an elder  
          or dependent adult to new housing or an assisted living facility  
          following a history of physical, emotional, and/or financial  
          abuse by a caregiver or other person, and want to ensure the  
          confidentiality of the new address.  In such cases, eligibility  
          to participate in the "Safe at Home" program would give the  
          abused elders and dependent adults the added protection of the  
          address confidentiality program to help keep them safe from  
          their abusers."   

           Guaranteed Notice for Protected Victims of Abuse of an Elder or  
          Dependent Adults.   This bill is consistent with existing law  
          relating to the issuance of civil protective orders that protect  
          victims of abuse of an elder or dependent adult, which presumes  
          that victims of abuse of an elder or dependent adult fall under  
          the protective umbrella of the Safe at Home program.  After the  
          court issues a civil protective order for a victim of abuse of  
          an elder or dependent adult, existing law allows the court, on  
          motion from a party, to terminate, shorten or otherwise modify  
          that protective order, provided that the protected person is  








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          notified of the hearing prior by either personal service or by  
          service on the Secretary of State, if the protected party has  
          satisfied the requirements of the Safe at Home program.   
          (Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15657.03(i)(3).)   
          However, under current law victims of abuse of an elder or  
          dependent adult do not fall under the protective umbrella of the  
          Safe at Home program.  According to the author, this bill seeks  
          to close this gap in the law by explicitly extending the  
          protections of the Safe at Home program to victims of abuse of  
          an elder or dependent adult.  

           Prior Related Legislation  :  SB 1082 (Corbett) Chap. 270 (Stats.  
          2012), requires prospective participants of the "Safe at Home"  
          program to be domiciled in California in order to apply to the  
          program, authorizes a minor program participant, who reaches 18  
          years of age during his or her enrollment, to renew as an adult,  
          and modifies the Secretary of State authority to terminate a  
          program participant's certification, as specified.

          SB 636 (Corbett) Chap. 200 (Stats. 2011), enhances the  
          protections for participants in the Safe at Home program,  
          including prohibiting publicly posting or displaying on the  
          Internet, or soliciting, selling, or trading on the Internet,  
          specified personal information of the program participant.

          SB 1233 (Oropeza) Chap. 326 (Stats. 2010), removed the sunset  
          date for the Safe at Home program and required that the name  
          change records for the program participants be permanently  
          retained.  

          AB 2304 (Plescia) Chap. 586 (Stats. 2008), requires courts to  
          keep confidential the current legal name of the petitioner and  
          prohibited the court from publishing that name by any means or  
          in any public forum when the petition for name change is by a  
          participant in the address confidentiality program.

          SB 1062 (Bowen) Chap. 639 (Stats. 2006), extended the  
          protections of the Safe at Home program to victims of sexual  
          assault.

          AB 797 (Shelley) Chap. 380 (Stats. 2002), extended the  
          protections of the Safe at Home program to reproductive health  
          care service providers and their employees, volunteers, and  
          patients. 









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          AB 205 (Leach) Chap. 33 (Stats. 2000), extended the protections  
          provided for victims of domestic violence, including provisions  
          that provided courts to maintain the confidentiality of requests  
          for name changes and required the Secretary of State to archive  
          participants name changes.   

          SB 1318 (Alpert) Chap. 562 (Stats. 2000), extended the  
          protections of the Safe at Home program to victims of stalking,  
          and revised procedures relating to terminating the certification  
          of participants.

          SB 489 (Alpert) Chap. 1005 (Stats. 1998), established the Safe  
          at Home program for victims of domestic violence and allowed for  
          voter record and marriage application confidentiality as well as  
          address confidentiality. 
           
          REGISTERED SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:

          Support
           
          California Police Chiefs Association
          California State Sheriffs' Association
          Chief Probation Officers of California
          California District Attorneys Association
          Legal Assistance to the Elderly, Inc.
          WISE Healthy Aging
          Consumer Federation of California
          National Association of Social Workers -- California Chapter

           Opposition
           
          None on file

           Analysis Prepared by  :  Drew Liebert and Rebecca Kramer / JUD. /  
          (916) 319-2334