New Laws Take Effect in 2020: Public Safety Update

by on January 21, 2020

posted in Law Enforcement, Legislative Updates,

Several new laws took effect this year that affect public safety.  The key legislation is summarized in this post.

Pitchess Motions

AB 1600 amends Code of Civil Procedure Section 1005 and Evidence Code Section 1043 and 1047 to revise the timing and scope of Pitchess Motions.  The defense now is required to serve a Pitchess motion 10 court days (rather than 16) court days before the hearing on the Pitchess motion.  In addition, AB 1600 allows discovery of the records of a supervisor who had oversight over the officer present between arrest and booking or who issued command directives (or had command influence) from the time of arrest to the time of booking even if the supervisor physically was not present.

Website Posting of Standards and Policies

SB 978 adds Section 13650 to the California Penal Code which requires local law enforcement agencies post on their website all current standards, policies, practices, operating procedures, and education and training materials that would otherwise be available to the public if a request were made under the California Public Records Act.

Use of Force

Effective January 1, 2020, AB 392 changes the circumstances under which homicide by a peace officer may be deemed justified with substantial revisions to Penal Code Section 835a. The amendments include significant discussion of legislative intent focused on the seriousness, necessity, evaluation, and use of alternatives to deadly force. The section now includes an objective reasonableness test for evaluating the use of force under state law and also affirmatively lists the circumstances where deadly force is justified, such as when a peace officer reasonably believes, based on the totality of the circumstances, that deadly force is necessary to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or to another person and when deadly force is required to apprehend a person fleeing a felony involving threatened or actual death or serious bodily injury when the officer reasonably believes that the person will cause death or serious bodily injury to another person unless immediately apprehended. Officers are required to, when feasible, make reasonable efforts to identify themselves and warn of intent to use deadly force. Deadly force shall not be used based solely on a danger a person poses to themselves and the person does not pose an imminent threat to the officer or another person. Under the amended section, peace officers do not have a duty to retreat because of the resistance or threatened resistance of a person.

Gun Violence Restraining Orders

AB 12 goes into effect on September 1, 2020. The bill extends the duration of Gun Violence Restraining Orders (“GVRO”) from one year to between one year and five years, and requires the Court to consider whether the person subject to the GVRO poses a significant danger of causing injury to themselves, or another, by possessing a firearm as well as the effectiveness, adequacy, and appropriateness of less restrictive alternatives in determining the length of the GVRO. The person subject to the GVRO may request a hearing once a year while the GVRO is active seeking termination of the GVRO. The employing law enforcement agency may be named as the petitioner in the place of an individual police officer.

Criminal Subpoenas

Under SB 471, criminal subpoenas now may be served by fax, messenger or email although  there is a process that must be used to verify delivery.  However, this method of service DOES NOT APPLY to criminal subpoenas for testimony of peace officers in a criminal case.  Such subpoenas must be served in the same way: by delivery to the officer or delivery of two copies to his supervisor or other person designated to receive service.  The supervisor must deliver the subpoena promptly so the officer has it before the date to testify.  If the supervisor knows he/she cannot deliver the subpoena before the testimony or if the subpoena is received fewer than 5 working days before the date for testimony, the supervisor can refuse the subpoena.  If after accepting the subpoena the supervisor determines he/she cannot serve it in time, he/she must return it at least 48 hours prior to the date of the testimony.

For additional information, contact the author, Steven Graham,  at (909) 230-4314 or

tags: Gun Violence Restraining Order, Pitchess Motions, Public Records Act, Standards and Policies, Subpoenas, Use of Force, Websites,

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