Senator Dave Min announced the introduction of Senate Bill (SB) 290 to modernize The Access to Domestic Violence Reports Act of 1999. SB 290 would allow abuse victims to have access to a free copy of evidence digitally stored by law enforcement. Digital recordkeeping is not included in the original 1999 Act and, in the last two decades, has since become universal for police departments to maintain evidence files. As a result, the cost of obtaining electronic police incident reports and accompanying evidence, including photographs and 911 recordings, is charged to victims of domestic violence. SB 290 stops this practice and removes the financial barriers to obtaining evidence that is crucial for victims to build a successful case and obtain legal protections from abuse.
“It’s long past time that we ended the outrageous practice of charging abuse victims hundreds of dollars in fees just so that they can obtain evidence to protect themselves against their abusers,” Min said. “In the digital era, it costs us virtually nothing to provide this evidence to victims, which is so crucial for their efforts to seek judicial relief like restraining orders, child custody, and other life-saving protections. I am incredibly proud to introduce this legislation in partnership with the Domestic Violence Clinic at UC Irvine School of Law.”
“Currently, abuse survivors are charged hundreds of dollars to receive essential corroborating evidence of crimes and harm they experienced and reported to police,” said Professor Jane Stoever, Director of the Domestic Violence Clinic at UC Irvine Law. “This bill modernizes the law on access to evidence by giving abuse survivors digitally stored evidence along with police reports. In the UCI Law Domestic Violence Clinic that I direct, we see the difference corroborating evidence makes as our clients seek legal protection from abuse, and trauma care for themselves and their children, and know this bill will help survivors throughout California and be a national model.”
Some of the most common costs for victims are court and justice-related costs. Female victims pay over $1,000 after they petition courts for protection. The estimated lifetime costs of abuse—including the costs of court, health problems, and lost productivity—are $103,767 for women and $23,414 for men.