Confidential Address Program for Victims of

Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking - Program Law

 

California Government Code Sections 6205 - 6210



 

6205. The Legislature finds that persons attempting to escape from actual or threatened domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking frequently establish new names or 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 changed name or location of a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, to enable interagency cooperation with the Secretary of State in providing name and address confidentiality for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, 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.

 

6205.5. Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter.    (a) "Address" means a residential street address, school address, or work address of an individual, as specified on the individual's application to be a program participant under this chapter.   (b) "Domestic violence" means an act as defined in Section 6211 of the Family Code.   (c) "Domicile" means a place of habitation as defined in Section 349 of the Elections Code.    (d) "Program participant" means a person certified as a program participant under Section 6206.   (e) "Sexual assault" means an act or attempt made punishable by Section 220, 261, 261.5, 262, 264.1, 266c, 269, 285, 286, 288, 288.5, 288a, 289, or 647.6 of the Penal Code.   (f) "Stalking" means an act as defined in Section 646.9 of the Penal Code.

 

6206. (a) An adult person, a parent or guardian acting on behalf of a minor, or a guardian acting on behalf of an incapacitated person, who is domiciled in California, may apply to the Secretary of State to have an address designated by the Secretary of State serve as the person’s address or the address of the minor or incapacitated person. An application shall be completed in person at a community-based victims’ assistance program or a community-based assistance program that serves victims of elder or dependent adult abuse pursuant to the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 15600) of Part 3 of Division 9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code). The application process shall include a requirement that the applicant shall meet with a victims’ assistance counselor and receive orientation information about the program. The Secretary of State shall approve an application if it is filed in the manner and on the form prescribed by the Secretary of State and if it contains all of the following: (1) A sworn statement by the applicant that the applicant has good reason to believe both of the following: (A) That the applicant, or the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made, is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. (B) That the applicant fears for his or her safety or his or her children’s safety, or the safety of the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made. (2) If the applicant alleges that the basis for the application is that the applicant, or the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made, is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, the application may be accompanied by evidence including, but not limited to, any of the following: (A) Police, court, or other government agency records or files. (B) Documentation from a domestic violence or sexual assault program if the person is alleged to be a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. (C) Documentation from a legal, clerical, medical, or other professional from whom the applicant or person on whose behalf the application is made has sought assistance in dealing with the alleged domestic violence or sexual assault. (D) Any other evidence that supports the sworn statement, such as a statement from any other individual with knowledge of the circumstances that provides the basis for the claim, or physical evidence of the act or acts of domestic violence or sexual assault.
(3) If the applicant alleges that the basis for the application is that the applicant, or the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made, is a victim of stalking, the application may be accompanied by evidence including, but not limited to, any of the following: (A) Police, court, or other government agency records or files. (B) Documentation from a legal, clerical, medical, or other professional from whom the applicant or person on whose behalf the application is made has sought assistance in dealing with the alleged stalking. (C) Any other evidence that supports the sworn statement, such as a sworn statement from any other individual with knowledge of the circumstances that provide the basis for the claim, or physical evidence of the act or acts of stalking. (4) The name and last known address of the applicant’s minor child or children, the name and last known address of the other parent or parents of the minor child or children of the applicant, and all court orders related to the minor child or children of the applicant, and legal counsel of record in those cases. (5) A designation of the Secretary of State as agent for purposes of service of process and for the purpose of receipt of mail. (A) Service on the Secretary of State of any summons, writ, notice, demand, or process shall be made by delivering to the address confidentiality program personnel of the office of the Secretary of State two copies of the summons, writ, notice, demand, or process. (B) If a summons, writ, notice, demand, or process is served on the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State shall immediately cause a copy to be forwarded to the program participant at the address shown on the records of the address confidentiality program so that the summons, writ, notice, demand, or process is received by the program participant within three days of the Secretary of State’s having received it. (C) The Secretary of State shall keep a record of all summonses, writs, notices, demands, and processes served upon the Secretary of State under this section and shall record the time of that service and the Secretary of State’s action. (D) The office of the Secretary of State and any agent or person employed by the Secretary of State shall be held harmless from any liability in any action brought by any person injured or harmed as a result of the handling of first-class mail on behalf of program participants. (6) The mailing address where the applicant can be contacted by the Secretary of State, and the phone number or numbers where the applicant can be called by the Secretary of State. (7) The address or addresses that the applicant requests not be disclosed for the reason that disclosure will increase the risk of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. (8) The signature of the applicant and of any individual or representative of any office designated in writing under Section 6208.5 who assisted in the preparation of the application, and the date on which the applicant signed the application. (b) Applications shall be filed with the office of the Secretary of State. (c) Upon filing a properly completed application, the Secretary of State shall certify the applicant as a program participant. Applicants shall be certified for four years following the date of filing unless the certification is withdrawn or invalidated before that date. The Secretary of State shall by rule establish a renewal procedure. A minor program participant, who reaches 18 years of age during his or her enrollment, may renew as an adult following the renewal procedures established by the Secretary of State. (d) Upon certification, the Secretary of State shall, within 10 days, notify the other parent or parents identified pursuant to paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of the designation of the Secretary of State as agent for purposes of service of process and, unless there is a court order prohibiting contact, the address designated by the Secretary of State for the program participant. The notice shall be given by mail, return receipt requested, postage prepaid, to the last known address of the other parent to be notified. A copy shall also be sent to that parent’s counsel of record, if provided to the Secretary of State by the applicant. (e) A person who falsely attests in an application that disclosure of the applicant’s address would endanger the applicant’s safety or the safety of the applicant’s children or the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made, or who knowingly provides false or incorrect information upon making an application, is guilty of a misdemeanor. A notice shall be printed in bold type and in a conspicuous location on the face of the application informing the applicant of the penalties under this subdivision.

 

6206.4. The Secretary of State shall keep confidential name changes of program participants obtained pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 1277 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The Secretary of State shall have the same responsibilities and obligations to program participants who have obtained a name change as to any other program participant under this chapter.

 

6206.5. Upon termination of a program participant's certification, the Secretary of State shall retain records as follows: (a) Except as provided in subdivision (g) of Section 6206.7 or Section 6208, any records or documents pertaining to a program participant shall be held confidential for a period of three years after withdrawal or termination of certification. (b) All records or documents pertaining to a program participant shall be retained for a period of three years after termination of certification and then destroyed, except for change of name records, which shall be retained permanently and only be accessible pursuant to Section 6208 and Section 1798.34 of the Civil Code.

 

6206.7. (a) A program participant may withdraw from program participation by submitting to the Secretary of State written notification of withdrawal and his or her current identification card. Certification shall be terminated on the date of receipt of this notification. (b) The Secretary of State may terminate a program participant's certification and invalidate his or her authorization card for any of the following reasons: (1) The program participant's certification term has expired and certification renewal has not been completed. (2) The Secretary of State has determined that false information was used in the application process to qualify as a program participant or that participation in the program is being used as a subterfuge to avoid detection of illegal or criminal activity or apprehension by law enforcement. (3) The program participant no longer resides at the most recent residential address provided to the Secretary of State, and has not provided at least seven days' prior notice in writing of a change in address. (4) A service of process document or mail forwarded to the program participant by the Secretary of State is returned as nondeliverable. (5) The program participant obtains a legal name change and fails to notify the Secretary of State within seven days. (6) The program participant, who reaches 18 years of age during his or her certification term, has not renewed his or her certification within 60 days of him or her reaching 18 years of age. (c) The Secretary of State may refuse to renew a program participant's certification if the adult program participant or the parent or guardian acting on behalf of a minor or incapacitated person has abandoned his or her domicile in this state. (d) If intended termination is based on any of the reasons under subdivision (b) or (c), the Secretary of State shall send written notification of the intended termination to the program participant. The program participant shall have 30 days in which to appeal the intended termination under procedures developed by the Secretary of State. (e) The Secretary of State shall notify in writing the county elections official and authorized personnel of the appropriate county clerk's office, county recording office, and department of health of the program participant's certification withdrawal, invalidation, expiration, or termination. (f) Upon receipt of this termination notification, authorized personnel shall transmit to the Secretary of State all appropriate administrative records pertaining to the program participant and the record transmitting agency is no longer responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of a terminated program participant's record. (g) Following termination of program participant certification as a result of paragraph (2) of subdivision (b), the Secretary of State may disclose information contained in the participant's application.

 

6207. (a) A program participant may request that state and local agencies use the address designated by the Secretary of State as his or her address. When creating a public record, state and local agencies shall accept the address designated by the Secretary of State as a program participant's substitute address, unless the Secretary of State has determined both of the following: (1) The agency has a bona fide statutory or administrative requirement for the use of the address which would otherwise be confidential under this chapter. (2) This address will be used only for those statutory and administrative purposes and shall not be publicly disseminated. (b) A program participant may request that state and local agencies use the address designated by the Secretary of State as his or her address. When modifying or maintaining a public record, excluding the record of any birth, fetal death, death, or marriage registered under Division 102 (commencing with Section 102100) of the Health and Safety Code, state and local agencies shall accept the address designated by the Secretary of State as a program participant's substitute address, unless the Secretary of State has determined both of the following: (1) The agency has a bona fide statutory or administrative requirement for the use of the address which would otherwise be confidential under this chapter. (2) This address will be used only for those statutory and administrative purposes and shall not be publicly disseminated. (c) A program participant may use the address designated by the Secretary of State as his or her work address. (d) The office of the Secretary of State shall forward all first-class mail and all mail sent by a governmental agency to the appropriate program participants. The office of the Secretary of State may, in its discretion, refuse to handle or forward packages regardless of size or type of mailing. (e) Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) and (b), program participants shall comply with the provisions specified in subdivision (d) of Section 1808.21 of the Vehicle Code if requesting suppression of the records maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Program participants shall also comply with all other provisions of the Vehicle Code relating to providing current address information to the department.

 

6207.5. A program participant who is otherwise qualified to vote may seek to register and vote in a confidential manner pursuant to Section 2166.5 of the Elections Code.

 

6208. The Secretary of State may not make a program participant's address, other than the address designated by the Secretary of State, or a program participant's name change available for inspection or copying, except under any of the following circumstances: (a) If requested by a law enforcement agency, to the law enforcement agency. (b) If directed by a court order, to a person identified in the order. (c) If certification has been terminated as a result of paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 6206.7.

 

6208.1. (a) (1) No person, business, or association shall knowingly and intentionally publicly post or publicly display on the Internet the home address, home telephone number, or image of a program participant or other individuals residing at the same home address with the intent to do either of the following: (A) Incite a third person to cause imminent great bodily harm to the person identified in the posting or display, or to a coresident of that person, where the third person is likely to commit this harm. (B) Threaten the person identified in the posting or display, or a coresident of that person, in a manner that places the person identified or the coresident in objectively reasonable fear for his or her personal safety. (2) A participant whose home address, home telephone number, or image is made public as a result of a violation of paragraph (1) may do either or both of the following: (A) Bring an action seeking injunctive or declarative relief in any court of competent jurisdiction. If a jury or court finds that a violation has occurred, it may grant injunctive or declarative relief and shall award the successful plaintiff court costs and reasonable attorney's fees. (B) Bring an action for money damages in any court of competent jurisdiction. In addition to any other legal rights or remedies, if a jury or court finds that a violation has occurred, it shall award damages to that individual in an amount up to a maximum of three times the actual damages, but in no case less than four thousand dollars ($4,000). (b) (1) No person, business, or association shall knowingly and intentionally publicly post or publicly display on the Internet the home address or home telephone number of a participant if that individual has made a written demand of that person, business, or association to not disclose his or her home address or home telephone number. A demand made under this paragraph shall include a sworn statement declaring that the person is subject to the protection of this section and describing a reasonable fear for the safety of that individual or of any person residing at the individual's home address, based on a violation of subdivision (a). A written demand made under this paragraph shall be effective for four years, regardless of whether or not the individual's program participation has expired prior to the end of the four-year period. (2) A participant whose home address or home telephone number is made public as a result of a failure to honor a demand made pursuant to paragraph (1) may bring an action seeking injunctive or declarative relief in any court of competent jurisdiction. If a jury or court finds that a violation has occurred, it may grant injunctive or declarative relief and shall award the successful plaintiff court costs and reasonable attorney's fees. (3) This subdivision shall not apply to a person or entity defined in Section 1070 of the Evidence Code. (c) (1) No person, business, or association shall solicit, sell, or trade on the Internet the home address, home telephone number, or image of a participant with the intent to do either of the following: (A) Incite a third person to cause imminent great bodily harm to the person identified in the posting or display, or to a coresident of that person, where the third person is likely to commit this harm. (B) Threaten the person identified in the posting or display, or a coresident of that person, in a manner that places the person identified or the coresident in objectively reasonable fear for his or her personal safety. (2) A participant whose home address, home telephone number, or image is solicited, sold, or traded in violation of paragraph (1) may bring an action in any court of competent jurisdiction. In addition to any other legal rights and remedies, if a jury or court finds that a violation has occurred, it shall award damages to that individual in an amount up to a maximum of three times the actual damages, but in no case less than four thousand dollars ($4,000). (d) An interactive computer service or access software provider, as defined in Section 230(f) of Title 47 of the United States Code, shall not be liable under this section unless the service or provider intends to abet or cause bodily harm that is likely to occur or threatens to cause bodily harm to a participant or any person residing at the same home address. (e) Nothing in this section is intended to preclude prosecution under any other provision of law. (f) For the purposes of this section, the following terms are defined as follows: (1) "Image" includes, but is not limited to, any photograph, video, sketch, or computer-generated image that provides a means to visually identify the person depicted. (2) "Program participant" means a person certified as a program participant in the manner described in Section 6206. (3) "Publicly post" or "publicly display" means to communicate or otherwise make available to the general public.

 

6208.2. (a) (1) No person shall post on the Internet, with the intent that another person imminently use that information to commit a crime involving violence or a threat of violence against the participant or the program participant's family members who are participating in the program, the home address, the telephone number, or personal identifying information of a program participant or the program participant's family members who are participating in the program. (2) A violation of this subdivision is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or imprisonment of up to six months in a county jail, or by both that fine and imprisonment. (3) A violation of this subdivision that leads to the bodily injury of the program participant, or of any of the program participant's family members who are participating in the program, is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to five thousand dollars ($5,000), or imprisonment of up to one year in a county jail, or by both that fine and imprisonment. (b) Nothing in this section shall preclude prosecution under any other provision of law.

 

6208.5. The Secretary of State shall designate state and local agencies and nonprofit agencies that provide counseling and shelter services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, as well as agencies that serve victims of elder or dependent adult abuse pursuant to the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 15600) of Part 3 of Division 9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code) to assist victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking applying to be program participants. The Secretary of State shall conduct outreach activities to identify and recruit the agencies. Any assistance and counseling rendered by the office of the Secretary of State or its designees to applicants shall in no way be construed as legal advice.

 

6209. The Secretary of State may adopt rules to facilitate the administration of this chapter by state and local agencies.

 

6209.7. (a) Nothing in this chapter, nor participation in this program, affects custody or visitation orders in effect prior to or during program participation. A program participant who falsifies his or her location in order to unlawfully avoid custody or visitation orders is subject to immediate termination from the program and is guilty of a misdemeanor. (b) Participation in the program does not constitute evidence of domestic violence or stalking for purposes of making custody or visitation orders.

 

6210. (a) Notwithstanding Section 7550.5, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Legislature, no later than January 10 of each year, a report that includes the total number of applications received for the program established by this chapter. The report shall disclose the number of program participants within each county and shall also describe any allegations of misuse relating to election purposes. (b) The Secretary of State shall commence accepting applications and other activities under this program on July 1, 1999. (c) Notwithstanding Section 7550.5, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Legislature by January 1, 2004, a report that includes the total number of pieces of mail forwarded to program participants, the number of program participants during the program's duration, the number of program participants who obtained a confidential name change pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 1277 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the average length of time a participant remains in the program, and the targeted code changes needed to improve the program's efficiency and cost-effectiveness.


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