Today's Law As Amended


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AB-1550 Discriminatory emergency calls.(2019-2020)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) This measure is intended to create a path for an individual who has been subject to a racially motivated “911” call to be able to file a lawsuit for damages.
(b) Pursuant to Section 148.3 of the Penal Code, it is a misdemeanor to make a false police report. This crime is punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000, imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. However, it is also important to provide a clear a clear legal path for an individual who feels that they have had their civil rights violated by another individual, business, or group to seek justice through the civil and criminal system. Currently, only the public entity that responded to the false emergency report is allowed to seek remedy.
(c) It is the intent of the Legislature to help end instances of “911” calls aimed at violating the rights of individuals based upon race, religion, sex, or any other protected class. The current punishment for making a false police report does not address the growing number of cases of peace officers being summoned to violate the rights of, for example, Black and Brown individuals for doing day-to-day activities—essentially living their lives.
(d) The States of Oregon and New York recently enacted a law that will allow a target of an allegedly prejudiced “911” call to file a lawsuit against the caller.
(e) People of color should have the liberty to live their lives and to go about their business without having to be confronted by police for doing so. These calls cause mistrust between communities of color and peace officers that further deteriorates community-police relations. This is especially true when the police are summoned as forces of exclusion. Racially motivated “911” calls can be big hurdles in effective, community-based policing. Thus, it is up to the Legislature to help end the use of peace officers as a personal force for people who harbor racial animus—it is a waste of time and resources to have the police deployed when criminal activity is not occurring.
(f) This measure is not intended to discourage individuals who are facing real danger, or who want to report a crime, from making a “911” call to police. However, it will allow those who have been subject to unfair and unnecessary “911” calls to regain their agency by seeking justice and restitution through the criminal and civil court system. Moreover, this legislation would force people to check their prejudices before making an unnecessary, biased “911” call.

SEC. 2.

 Section 52.35 is added to the Civil Code, immediately following Section 52.3, to read:

52.35.
 (a) A person may bring a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction against any responsible party who, motivated by the persons’ race, religion, sex, or any other protected status, through the use of a “911” call knowingly causes a peace officer to arrive at a location to contact the person with the intent to do any of the following:
(1) Infringe upon the person’s rights under either the California Constitution or the United States Constitution.
(2) Unlawfully discriminate against the person.
(3) Cause the person to feel harassed, humiliated, or embarrassed.
(4) Cause the person to be expelled from a place in which the other person is lawfully located.
(5) Damage the person’s reputation or standing within the community.
(6) Damage the person’s financial, economic, consumer, or business prospects or interests.
(b) A prevailing plaintiff who suffers harm as a result of a violation of subdivision (a) may recover damages against the responsible party, including, but not limited to, general damages, including damages for infliction of emotional distress and for damages caused by the peace officers who respond to the call, special damages, and punitive damages against the responsible party, or, in lieu of actual damages, an award of statutory damages in an amount not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), but not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250). A prevailing plaintiff shall also be entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs in addition to any other recovery.
(c) Nothing in this section shall preclude the application of any other existing remedies provided by law.

SEC. 3.

 Section 148.3 of the Penal Code is amended to read:

148.3.
 (a) Any individual who reports, or causes any report to be made, to any city, county, city and county, or state department, district, agency, division, commission, or board, that an “emergency” exists, knowing that the report is false, is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
(b) Any individual who reports, or causes any report to be made, to any city, county, city and county, or state department, district, agency, division, commission, or board, that an “emergency” exists, who knows that the report is false, and who knows or should know that the response to the report is likely to cause death or great bodily injury, and great bodily injury or death is sustained by any person as a result of the false report, is guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
(c) “Emergency” as used in this section means any condition that results in, or could result in, the response of a public official in an authorized emergency vehicle, aircraft, or vessel, any condition that jeopardizes or could jeopardize public safety and results in, or could result in, the evacuation of any area, building, structure, vehicle, or of any other place that any individual may enter, or any situation that results in or could result in activation of the Emergency Alert System pursuant to Section 8594 of the Government Code. An activation or possible activation of the Emergency Alert System pursuant to Section 8594 of the Government Code shall not constitute an “emergency” for purposes of this section if it occurs as the result of a report made or caused to be made by a parent, guardian, or lawful custodian of a child that is based on a good faith belief that the child is missing.
(d) Nothing in this section precludes punishment for the conduct described in subdivision (a) or (b) under any other section of law providing for greater punishment for that conduct.
(e) Any individual convicted of violating this section, based upon a report that resulted in an emergency response, is liable to a public agency for the reasonable costs of the emergency response by that public agency.
(f) A person falsely reported by an individual in violation of this section may be considered the victim of the crime for the purposes of Section 422.55.

SEC. 4.

 Section 422.7 of the Penal Code is amended to read:

422.7.
 Except in the case of a person punished under Section 422.6, any hate crime that is not made punishable by imprisonment in the state prison shall be punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by a fine not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine, if the crime is committed against the person or property of another for the purpose of intimidating or interfering with that other person’s free exercise or enjoyment of any right secured to him or her  them  by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States under any of the following circumstances, which shall be charged in the accusatory pleading:
(a) The crime against the person of another either includes the present ability to commit a violent injury or causes actual physical injury.
(b) The crime against property causes damage in excess of nine hundred fifty dollars ($950).
(c) The person charged with a crime under this section has been convicted previously of a violation of subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 422.6, or has been convicted previously of a conspiracy to commit a crime described in subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 422.6.
(d) The crime was a violation of Section 148.3.
SEC. 5.
 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.