Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/27/1996 01:20 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 SB 194 - CRIMES: GANG-RELATED & MISC.                                       
                                                                               
 Number 2155                                                                   
                                                                               
 SHERMAN ERNOUF, Staff to Senator Tim Kelly, testified that SB 194             
 was introduced in response to rapid escalation of violent gang                
 activity throughout Alaska.  He noted the amount of gang related              
 violence this past year and previous.  In 1995, there were more               
 than four gang-related murders committed in Anchorage, as well as,            
 numerous gang-related hold-ups and drive by shootings, and other              
 criminal activities by gangs.  Present intelligence from the                  
 Anchorage Police Department notes that there are over 463 gang                
 members active in Anchorage.  The central purpose behind this bill            
 is to give law enforcement and prosecutors the tools that they                
 desperately need to deal with the increased presence of gangs in              
 Alaska.  This committee substitute now before the House Judiciary             
 Committee represents quite a bit of work between the attorney                 
 general's office, enforcement officials and Senator Tim Kelly.                
                                                                               
 MR. ERNOUF went on to note that this legislation does six major               
 things, first, it amends the crime of second degree murder to                 
 include a felony murder provision for a death resulting from a drug           
 offense or gang-related shooting.  Currently, if a by-stander is              
 shot in a shoot-out between two drug dealers attempting to complete           
 a drug deal, for example, or in a crime committed by a gang or                
 gangs, the shooter can claim that they were firing in self-defense.           
 This provision would eliminate a claim of self-defense when an                
 innocent by-stander is injured and would hold drug dealers and                
 gangs accountable for their dangerous behavior.                               
                                                                               
 MR. ERNOUF stated that secondly, this legislation creates a new               
 specific crime of recruiting a gang member.  It enumerates a crime            
 if a person uses or threatens to use force against a person or                
 property to induce someone to participate in a criminal street gang           
 or commit gang violence.  This crime would constitute a class C               
 felony.  Further, this crime would be extended to recruitment                 
 without force by a person eighteen years of age or older who                  
 encourages a younger person under the age of eighteen to                      
 participate in a gang.  This would be recruitment in the second               
 degree and this would constitute a class A misdemeanor.                       
                                                                               
 MR. ERNOUF continued that thirdly, this legislation elevates the              
 crime of weapons misconduct which is applicable to drive-by                   
 shootings and elevates this to a class A felony punishable by five            
 to ten years in prison.  Further, to add teeth to the bill, it                
 allows for expert testimony relating to criminal street gang                  
 activity.  Currently, it is very hard to get evidence before the              
 court regarding the activities of gangs.  This section of the bill            
 would allow testimony to show gang affiliations, gang customs,                
 rivalries and other characteristics of gangs which would be                   
 necessary to implement some of the things in the bill. This was               
 requested by numerous people involved.                                        
                                                                               
 MR. ERNOUF further stated that a forfeiture provision has been                
 included in this legislation which provides for forfeiture to state           
 of motor vehicles, weapons, electronic communication devises,                 
 money, valuables or any other personal property obtained through an           
 offense which was committed for the benefit of, at the direction or           
 in association with a criminal street gang.  Lastly, the one major            
 point he wanted to make was that this legislation allows and would            
 provide gang membership to be considered as an aggravator during              
 sentencing for felonies.  It would also elevate misdemeanors                  
 committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in                      
 association with a criminal street gang.  For example, if a gang              
 committed a B misdemeanor this would elevate this to an A                     
 misdemeanor.   Similarly, if they committed an A misdemeanor, this            
 would be elevated to a class C felony during sentencing.                      
                                                                               
 MR. ERNOUF added that this legislation has been endorsed by the               
 Peace Officers Association.  He also noted that he didn't know of             
 anyone who opposes this bill in it's current form.                            
                                                                               
 Number 2359                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked about weapons misconduct and asked if              
 there were varying degrees of this offense.                                   
                                                                               
 MS. CARPENETI stated that yes, the law presently has four degrees             
 (indisc. - documents on microphone).  This adds to misconduct                 
 involving weapons in the first degree drive-by shootings under                
 circumstances manifesting the substantial and justifiable risk of             
 physical injury to a person or damage to property.  She would make            
 just one minor correction, it is an A felony which has a maximum of           
 20 years of incarceration, not 10.                                            
                                                                               
 Number 2400                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE TOOHEY stated that she didn't understand what the              
 purpose of 13 fiscal notes attached to this legislation was all               
 about.                                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 2443                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BETTYE DAVIS asked if the Attorney General's office            
 is saying that this bill was actually going to do something,                  
 because she read in the notation that they had some concerns and              
 they didn't think it was going to do anything, anyway.  She asked             
 if this bill was on line now, that it will do something and the               
 Department of Law has removed the objection to this bill.                     
                                                                               
 MS. CARPENETI stated that she had testified in Senate Judiciary on            
 the original bill and they had serious reservations about a section           
 prohibiting participation in criminal street gangs and it was their           
 view and still is that the difficulty of proving this was not                 
 justified by the C felony which they ended up with.  If the                   
 elements in this offense had to be proved they would be better off            
 and they would be able to prove accomplish liability and get a                
 higher level of offense, for example, an accomplice to robbery if             
 they had to prove all these various things which are difficult to             
 prove.                                                                        
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-44, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 006                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS made a motion to move CSSB 194(JUD) from the             
 House Judiciary Committee with individual recommendations and                 
 attached 14 zero fiscal notes.  There being no objection it was so            
 moved.                                                                        

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