2022 Georgia Code
Title 24 - Evidence
Chapter 5 - Privileges
§ 24-5-509. Communications Between Victim of Family Violence or Sexual Assault and Agents Providing Services to Such Victim; Termination of Privilege

Universal Citation: GA Code § 24-5-509 (2022)
  1. As used in this Code section, the term:
    1. “Agent” means a current or former employee or volunteer of a program who has successfully completed a minimum of 20 hours of training in family violence and sexual assault intervention and prevention at a Criminal Justice Coordinating Council certified victim assistance program.
    2. “Family violence” shall have the same meaning as provided in Code Section 19-13-1.
    3. “Family violence shelter” means a program whose primary purpose is to provide services to family violence victims and their families that is not under the direct supervision of a law enforcement agency, prosecuting attorney’s office, or a government agency.
    4. “Family violence victim” means a person who consults a family violence shelter for the purpose of securing advice or other services concerning an act of family violence, an alleged act of family violence, or an attempted act of family violence.
    5. “Government agency” means any agency of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of government or political subdivision or authority thereof of this state, any other state, the District of Columbia, the United States and its territories and possessions, or any foreign government or international governmental or quasi-governmental agency recognized by the United States or by any of the several states.
    6. “Negative effect of the disclosure of the evidence on the victim” shall include the impact of the disclosure on the relationship between the victim and the agent and the delivery and accessibility of services.
    7. “Program” means a family violence shelter or rape crisis center.
    8. “Rape crisis center” means a program whose primary purpose is to provide services to sexual assault victims and their families that is not under the direct supervision of a law enforcement agency, prosecuting attorney’s office, or a government agency.
    9. “Services” means any services provided to a victim by a program including but not limited to crisis hot lines, safe homes and shelters, assessment and intake, counseling, services for children who are victims of family violence or sexual assault, support in medical, administrative, and judicial systems, transportation, relocation, and crisis intervention. Such term shall not include mandatory reporting as required by Code Section 19-7-5 or 30-5-4.
    10. “Sexual assault” shall have the same meaning as provided in Code Section 17-5-70.
    11. “Sexual assault victim” means a person who consults a rape crisis center for the purpose of securing advice or other services concerning a sexual assault, an alleged sexual assault, or an attempted sexual assault.
    12. “Victim” means a family violence victim or sexual assault victim.
  2. No agent of a program shall be compelled to disclose any evidence in a judicial proceeding that the agent acquired while providing services to a victim, provided that such evidence was necessary to enable the agent to render services, unless the privilege has been waived by the victim or, upon motion by a party, the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence at a pretrial hearing or hearing outside the presence of the jury that:
    1. In a civil proceeding:
      1. The evidence sought is material and relevant to factual issues to be determined;
      2. The evidence is not sought solely for the purpose of referring to the victim’s character for truthfulness or untruthfulness; provided, however, that this subparagraph shall not apply to evidence of the victim’s prior inconsistent statements;
      3. The evidence sought is not available or already obtained by the party seeking disclosure; and
      4. The probative value of the evidence sought substantially outweighs the negative effect of the disclosure of the evidence on the victim; or
    2. In a criminal proceeding:
      1. The evidence sought is material and relevant to the issue of guilt, degree of guilt, or sentencing for the offense charged or a lesser included offense;
      2. The evidence is not sought solely for the purpose of referring to the victim’s character for truthfulness or untruthfulness; provided, however, that this subparagraph shall not apply to evidence of the victim’s prior inconsistent statements;
      3. The evidence sought is not available or already obtained by the party seeking disclosure; and
      4. The probative value of the evidence sought substantially outweighs the negative effect of the disclosure of the evidence on the victim.
  3. If the court finds that the evidence sought may be subject to disclosure pursuant to subsection (b) of this Code section, the court shall order that such evidence be produced for the court under seal, shall examine the evidence in camera, and may allow disclosure of those portions of the evidence that the court finds are subject to disclosure under this Code section.
  4. The privilege afforded under this Code section shall terminate upon the death of the victim.
  5. The privilege granted by this Code section shall not apply if the agent was a witness or party to the family violence or sexual assault or other crime that occurred in the agent’s presence.
  6. The mere presence of a third person during communications between an agent and a victim shall not void the privilege granted by this Code section, provided that the communication occurred in a setting when or where the victim had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
  7. If the victim is or has been judicially determined to be incompetent, the victim’s guardian may waive the victim’s privilege.
  8. In criminal proceedings, if either party intends to compel evidence based on this Code section, the party shall file and serve notice of his or her intention on the opposing party at least ten days prior to trial, or as otherwise directed by the court. The court shall hold a pretrial hearing in accordance with subsection (b) of this Code section and determine the issue prior to trial.

History. Code 1981, § 24-5-509 , enacted by Ga. L. 2012, p. 105, § 2/HB 711.

Effective date. —

This Code section becomes effective January 1, 2013.

Law reviews.

For article on the 2012 enactment of this Code section, see 29 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 204 (2012).

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