The Phoenix Act - Senate Bill 273. Domestic Violence Statute of Limitations- IE-Criminal Defense

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SB 273: What is it?

“This bill would authorize prosecution for that crime to be commenced within 5 years. The bill would apply to crimes that are committed on or after January 1, 2020, and to crimes for which the statute of limitations that was in effect prior to January 1, 2020, has not run as of January 1, 2020. By extending the statute of limitations indefinitely, under certain circumstances, for a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.”

The new SB 273, which went into law on January 1, 2020, extended the period of time in which a Domestic Violence case, can be filed. Generally, a person accused of a Domestic Violence crime, the District Attorney’s Office has up to one year to file the charges as a Misdemeanor offense and three years to file the charges for a Felony offense. What this means now, is that you can now be charged with any Domestic Violence offense within 5 years of the date of the offense. In other words, if a person waits four years to now to report a Domestic Violence case against you, they still can do so, meaning you can still be charged for a crime that was many years later.

The full section is located here.

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What if my case is still pending, but happened before January 1, 2020?

If you were arrested, and never charged with a Domestic Violence case, and the Statute of Limitations has not already run, it would extend the Statute of Limitations to five years now. This means, if you were arrested for, but never charged with a crime in 2019, because the statute of limitation would not have run by the above date, then your period would extend until 2024, under the new law. If the Statute of Limitations had already run on your Domestic Violence arrest, then this new law does not apply or change your circumstance at all.

III
How else has this Senate Bill changed Domestic Violence Cases?

Now, whenever there is a 911 call made regarding a Domestic Violence case, Police also have new rules and regulations they must follow. First, the accuser and the accused must be interviewed in separate places to lessen the chance of any victim intimidation. Second, there are new sets of questions to assist police in deescalating these types of emotionally charged situations, that require two Domestic Violence experts assisting them in this process. Police will also be forced to receive additional training and questions for possible signs of Domestic Violence when responding to calls.

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How do the changes affect my situation now?

This new Bill, can now delay your opportunity to receive a potential grant of Sealing your record under PC 851.91. That would mean, if your case happened in 2018, the soonest you could Petition to Seal your Record would have been in 2021 originally; with this recent law change, the now soonest date you can Seal your Record from a 2018 arrest would be 2023.

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Why did this Senate Bill become enacted?

The Bill lists the reasons behind this extension of the Statute of Limitations in the Section 2:

“The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) More than one in three women and one in four men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

(b) One in five female high school students report being physically or sexually assaulted by a dating partner.

(c) Many perpetrators of domestic violence were themselves abused.

(d) Better education and resources can help prevent domestic violence from occurring.

(e) When domestic violence occurs, the statute of limitations varies depending on the crime committed, and can be as short as one year.

(f) Victims may not report a crime for myriad reasons, including their age at the time of abuse, ongoing trauma, threats from the perpetrator, or lack of evidence.

(g) Without resources or any intervention, many perpetrators of domestic violence will abuse multiple partners.

(h) It is the intent of the Legislature to allow for victims of domestic violence to come forward by extending the statute of limitations in order to ensure those victims see justice.

(i) It is the intent of the Legislature to increase training for law enforcement to ensure victims are protected and to prevent future domestic violence from occurring.”

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Call Today

Laws can change all the time in California, and it is important to know how the changes can affect you and your cases. Hiring an attorney with knowledge of the Law Changes helps to avoid prematurely filing motions and petitions that may be denied, based on their misunderstand of the changes in the laws. I have defended hundreds of Domestic Violence cases in Ontario, and I can assist you in your case too. Call your local Ontario Criminal Defense Attorney today at the Inland Empire Defense 909-939-7126. Located in Ontario.