Legislature(1999 - 2000)
02/23/2000 01:17 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 366 - CRIME VICTIMS RIGHTS & DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHAIRMAN KOTT announced that the next item of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 366, "An Act relating to the rights of crime victims, the crime of violating a protective order or injunction, mitigating factors in sentencing for an offense, and the return of certain seized property to victims; expanding the scope of the prohibition of compromise based on civil remedy of misdemeanor crimes involving domestic violence; amending Rules 10, 11, 13, 16, and 17, Alaska District Court Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 9, Alaska Rules of Administration." [The bill had been introduced by the House Rules Committee at the request of the Governor.] Number 0663 ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, Legal Services Section- Juneau, Criminal Division, Department of Law, came forward on behalf of the Governor to present HB 366. She explained that this is a cleanup bill in a sense. It takes care of four areas that have been problematic in terms of victims in Alaska. She said she would describe those briefly and then answer any questions. MS. CARPENETI reported that the first area deals with consequences for violation of a protective injunction in a children's case. Title 47 allows a court to enjoin an adult from having contact with a child if there is established the fact that the adult has sexually or physically abused the child or has put the child in serious danger. Currently there are no consequences other than contempt of court. As in a violation of a protective order in a domestic violence (DV) case, the bill provides that it is a class A misdemeanor to violate a court order that a person not contact a child after a finding that the person has caused sexual or physical abuse to the child. MS. CARPENETI explained that second, the bill adopts a less formal procedure for an owner of property, which was seized by the police from a pawnbroker, to get it back when the pawnbroker wants a hearing because of uncertainty as to who is the owner. Right now, the alleged owner has to file a lawsuit. This bill adopts a procedure by which a person can file a form supported by an affidavit; it also gives the pawnbroker an opportunity to be heard and to file a supporting affidavit. To get property back under these circumstances, therefore, one doesn't have to hire a lawyer and participate in a lawsuit. Number 0780 MS. CARPENETI advised members that third, the bill cleans up something that she believes was overlooked in 1996 when the legislature adopted the domestic violence and victim protection Act. She explained: We tried, in those cases, to go back into the statutes outside Title 11 and outside Title 18, where there are ... family relationships described, and just use the definition of "domestic violence." In this particular case, right now ... our statutes allow for civil compromise of certain misdemeanors, and that is when ... the defendant and the victim come in and say, "We've compromised this case; would you please dismiss it, judge?" And it's not an appropriate thing in domestic violence cases, just because of the power and the manipulation that's a part of that offense. So although ... the current statute does forbid civil compromise in most of our domestic violence relationships, it doesn't include all of them. So we have ... in this bill substituted a crime involving domestic violence for these particular relationships. MS. CARPENETI reported that fourth, the bill adopts a mitigating factor - which has already been recognized by the courts as a nonstatutory mitigator - when a defendant in a criminal case behaves in a way that mitigates the crime's effect on the victim by pleading guilty within 30 days after the defendant is arraigned. She concluded that these are not major changes in law but are cleanups. This adopts it as a statutory mitigator rather than a nonstatutory mitigator, which would require that the case be sent to a three-judge panel for sentencing if the court were to consider that particular factor. Number 0899 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked whether there were any questions and whether anyone else wanted to testify; there was no interest shown. He closed public testimony. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked Chairman Kott whether he had contacted any pawnbrokers about this bill. CHAIRMAN KOTT said no and added that he assumes they are okay with it. Number 0940 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN made a motion to move HB 366 out of the committee with individual recommendations and the attached zero fiscal note(s). There being no objection, it was so ordered and HB 366 was moved from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.