Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/23/1995 09:30 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE BILL NO. 7 "An Act relating to bail after conviction for various felonies if the defendant has certain previous felony convictions." Co-chair Halford invited Senator Salo to join the committee. Senator Salo, as sponsor of SB 7, testified that it is identical to the legislation completed last year as SB 228. This legislation is to add to the list of offenses for which bail is not available. Currently, those convicted of an Unclassified or Class A felony are prohibited of having bail following conviction. This would prohibit the release on bail following conviction for those defendants who have been convicted of a Class B or C felony, and who have a previous conviction for an Unclassified or Class A felony. In general, this adds to the lists of crimes for which bail would be denied. She noted that last year SB 228 passed the Senate 19-0 vote. SB 7 carries 5 zero fiscal notes. She stated that based on whether the time of incarceration is now or later, there is no additional cost. Senator Salo defined the statutes mentioned in the bill: AS 11.41.260, stalking in the first degree; AS 11.41.420 through AS 11.41.425, sexual assault in the second or third degree, a Class B or C felony; and, AS 11.41.436 through AS 11.41.438, sexual abuse of a minor in the second or third degree, a Class B or C felony. Margo Knuth, Department of Law, Criminal Section, stated the purpose of this legislation is to deny bail to the individual who has been convicted of a crime, and is awaiting an appeal. Existing law allows that as an Unclassified felony or a Class A felony, bail is denied. She said that a conviction as a Class B or C felony, which is a lesser offense, should still deny bail. She cited a case in Kenai: The offender had a conviction for sexual assault, subsequently was prosecuted for burglary, appealed the conviction and was released on bail. While that appeal was pending, he raped another person. This bill will prohibit judges from making such a mistake again. Senator Salo cited the case that was the impetus for this bill. She said the offender had a previous list of convictions both in Alaska and California that was very extensive, including statutory rape. His crime, before the court, was a felony drug offense. He was convicted. Pending an appeal, he was released on $5,000 bail. While out on bail, he raped 2 women. Those are two women whose lives are forever changed, by an offender who should not have been out on bail. That is a mistake that should not be made again. She stated, it was this man's background that made him dangerous relative to his being released on bail. This is the reasoning behind not limiting the bill to a crime against the person. The bill is defining a conduct dangerous enough, to keep them off the streets. Senator Sharp stated he is against designing laws for a specific situation. He asked if this person was on parole or probation from a previous crime when he was arrested? Senator Rieger asked how felonies track on record. Ms. Knuth stated that felonies stay on a record for a lifetime. When a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS) is completed, law enforcement is aware that there were felony proceedings, but it would not count as a prior conviction for purposes of presumptive sentencing. Anyone who successfully completed the SIS would not be effected by this legislation. Co-chair Halford asked Ms. Knuth if it could be written to say that as a matter of policy there will be no bail on appeal following conviction? Ms. Knuth responded that she did not know the answer to that question. Senator Sharp said he could support a universal application of no bail after a second conviction of a felon. Ms. Knuth clarified that after the first conviction, for an Unclassified or Class A felony, there is no bail pending appeal. Meaning, if there is assault in the first degree, sexual assault in the first degree, sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree, misconduct of drugs in the first degree, and if there is a conviction while appeal is pending, bail is denied. This is addressing those on second offenses. Ms. Knuth stated that even now, on first offenses, if they are Class A or Unclassified, bail is denied. This bill is saying that if it is a second felony conviction, and a defendant has one of the above convictions already, then the defendant will be placed in the same position on this new offense, even if it is a B or C felony. The second part to this, is the length of sentence that the defendant can be expected to receive. With a first-time conviction of a Class A or Unclassified offense, there is going to be a presumptive five, eight, or up to twenty years. On a first offense conviction of a Class B or C felony, it is likely there will be no jail time or minimal amount of jail time. But, when there is a prior felony conviction, then the presumptive sentencing scheme is in place for two years for Class C felony. Class B is 4 years. She reiterated that time served before sentencing will count toward the time required after sentencing. Senator Sharp questioned the zero fiscal notes. Ms. Knuth explained that the person convicted is going to spend time in jail as a matter of his sentence on the offense. Senator Salo interjected that the Department of Law reviewed 100 cases and found that 100% of the cases resulted in sentences of incarceration. She stated that annually the number of people that this will affect is a guess. Her guess is under 20. Senator Phillips MOVED for passage of SB 7 with individual recommendations. No objection having been raised, SB 7 was REPORTED OUT of committee with 5 zero fiscal notes from the Dept. of Administration, Dept. of Public Safety, Council on Domestic Violence, and Troopers, Dept. of Law, and Dept. of Corrections. Co-chairs Halford and Frank along with Senators Rieger, Phillips and Donley signed "do pass" recommendation. Senators Zharoff and Sharp signed "no recommendation".