Legislature(1995 - 1996)

1996-01-08 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

1996-01-08                     House Journal                      Page 2373
HB 399                                                                       
HOUSE BILL NO.  399 by the House Rules Committee by request of                 
the Governor, entitled:                                                        
An Act relating to vehicle theft and the consequences of vehicle              
theft, including revocation of a drivers license, privilege to drive,          
or privilege to obtain a license; amending Alaska Rule of Criminal             
Procedure 32.1; and providing for an effective date.                           
was read the first time and referred to the Health, Education & Social         
Services, State Affairs, Judiciary and Finance Committees.                     
The following fiscal  notes apply:                                             
Fiscal note, Dept. of Law, 1/8/96                                              
Fiscal note, Dept. of Public Safety, 1/8/96                                    
Fiscal notes (3), Dept. of Health & Social Services, 1/8/96                    
Fiscal note, Dept. of Administration, 1/8/96                                   

1996-01-08                     House Journal                      Page 2374
HB 399                                                                       
Fiscal note, Dept. of Corrections, 1/8/96                                      
Zero fiscal note, Dept. of Public Safety, 1/8/96                               
The Governors transmittal letter, dated January 8, 1996, appears               
Dear Speaker Phillips:                                                         
Under the authority of art. III, sec. 18, of the Alaska Constitution, I am     
transmitting a bill that replaces the joyriding provisions in the criminal     
mischief statutes with the new crime of vehicle theft, and provides that       
first degree vehicle theft is a class C felony.                                
Last year I vetoed a bill also dealing with car theft.  Unlike this            
proposed legislation, last years bill dealt only with juvenile offenders.      
It would have automatically waived all juveniles charged with                  
joyriding to adult court, regardless of their age, their criminal history,     
and the seriousness of the offense.  This would result in widely diverse       
and unfair treatment of juveniles who commit theft offenses--a juvenile        
who borrowed a snowmobile would have a permanent record, while                 
another who stole valuable property during a burglary would be                 
prosecuted as a juvenile, with no permanent criminal record.  Further,         
the Legislature failed to fully fund the fiscal notes accompanying the         
This bill changes the name of the prohibited conduct from joyriding or         
criminal mischief to vehicle theft; both imply a childish lark or prank,       
which is offensive to victims of the crime and is not an accurate              
description of this dangerous behavior.  It  creates two new sections in       
the criminal code--vehicle theft in the first and second degree.  Vehicle      
theft in the first degree prohibits any taking of a motor vehicle, and         
raises the penalty for first time car thieves from a class A misdemeanor       
to a class C felony.  Thus, the penalty for first time car theft is            
increased from a maximum one year in jail to a maximum five years              
in jail and the fine is raised from a maximum $5,000 to a maximum              
$50,000.  Vehicle theft in the second degree prohibits a first offense         
theft of vehicles such as snowmachines and other off-highway vehicles.         
Vehicle theft in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor, which is          
the penalty provided for this offense in current law.                          

1996-01-08                     House Journal                      Page 2375
HB 399                                                                       
Under this vehicle theft bill, juveniles who steal vehicles will be            
treated like juveniles who steal other property--waived into adult court       
if they are not amenable to treatment and dealt with in juvenile court         
if they are amenable to treatment.  By providing that first offense            
vehicle theft is a class C felony rather than a misdemeanor, the               
division of family and youth services in the Department of Health and          
Social Services will have a much more effective tool for holding               
juveniles accountable for their acts.                                          
The bill also adds the conviction of either first or second degree             
vehicle theft to the statute authorizing immediate revocation of driving       
privileges, and provides for mandatory revocation of driving privileges        
by the court when a person is convicted of vehicle theft in the first or       
second degree.                                                                 
For the bill to be effective in reducing vehicle theft in Alaska,  the         
state agencies responsible for enforcing it must be fully funded.  The         
division of family and youth services, which administers the juvenile          
justice system, must have additional probation officers; and the               
Department of Corrections must be funded for the additional costs of           
incarceration and supervision of car thieves.  Prosecution of felonies         
is more expensive for the Department of Law, and administrative costs          
for the division of motor vehicles in the Department of Public Safety          
will increase as a result of the automatic license revocation for persons      
convicted of vehicle theft.  A safer and more secure place to own and          
operate a vehicle will result from the passage and funding of this             
I urge your prompt consideration and passage of this bill.                     
							Tony Knowles