Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/27/2004 03:35 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
    CSHB 334(RLS)-UNLAWFUL EXPLOITATION OF MINOR/CHILD PORN                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GARY  STEVENS  announced  CSHB   334(RLS)  to  be  up  for                                                               
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KEVIN  MEYER,  sponsor, explained  that  unlawful                                                               
exploitation  of  a  minor  refers to  the  production  of  child                                                               
pornography. The bill increases  the penalties for the production                                                               
and sale of child pornography from a  class B felony to a class A                                                               
felony for  persons that  have previously  been convicted  of the                                                               
crime. It's  repeat offenders  that are  targeted here,  he said,                                                               
and because federal laws are  more stringent than the state laws,                                                               
it's  been difficult  to qualify  for federal  grants. Increasing                                                               
the penalties will address that issue.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
When  he  was a  member  of  the  STAR Board  (Standing  Together                                                               
Against Rape) he  found that the production  of child pornography                                                               
leads to  the more serious  offense of  sexual abuse of  a minor.                                                               
Increasing the  penalties for  production and  distribution might                                                               
help curb the other.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR JOHN COWDERY asked him  to explain the difference between                                                               
a class A and a class B felony.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER  explained that  the most serious  felony is                                                               
an unclassified felony.  The next most serious felony  is a class                                                               
A  felony followed  by a  class B  felony and  finally a  class C                                                               
felony.  The  penalty for  conviction  of  a  class B  felony  is                                                               
incarceration  of  between one  and  four  years. On  the  second                                                               
offense, there  is a  mandatory four year  sentence. The  class A                                                               
felony calls for a five year sentence for the first offense.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BERT STEDMAN asked for  an explanation of aggravators and                                                               
how they apply.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER  said  there  are  about  thirty  different                                                               
aggravators and  they may be added  to a sentence at  the judge's                                                               
discretion.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GRETCHEN  GUESS   asked  how  the  state   is  doing  in                                                               
prosecuting and  enforcing the  laws on  these crimes.  She added                                                               
that  the  prosecution  and  enforcement  of  statutory  rape  is                                                               
pathetic in most states.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER said his staff  might have something to add,                                                               
but  he did  know that  15 juveniles  were charged  with unlawful                                                               
exploitation in a 10 year period.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SUZANNE  CUNNINGHAM, staff  to  Representative  Meyer, said  that                                                               
information from the Department  of Corrections indicates that as                                                               
of 2000 there  were 14 offenders in jail  for sexual exploitation                                                               
of a minor.  The youngest offender was age 24  and the oldest was                                                               
62. In February a defendant was  tried and convicted of 16 counts                                                               
of sexual  abuse of a minor  and incorporated in that  were three                                                               
counts of unlawful  exploitation of a minor. He  was sentenced to                                                               
a total of 25 years for the  16 counts and is eligible for parole                                                               
after 10 years.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GUESS asked  about the issue of multiple  counts and what                                                               
the  penalty would  be if  they were  all committed  at the  same                                                               
time.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER  said the first  offense would be a  class B                                                               
felony then on the second offense  the penalty would be a class A                                                               
felony first offense.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GUESS  asked which it would  be if she were  convicted of                                                               
two counts at one time.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS CUNNINGHAM replied the penalty would  be a class B felony, but                                                               
if you were released from prison  and were then charged tried and                                                               
convicted of the  same crime then the penalty would  be a class A                                                               
felony.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GUESS asked  if they had a reason for  addressing it that                                                               
way.  "Someone could  get a  class A  because they're  six months                                                               
apart on their crimes and someone  else could have ten crimes and                                                               
they would all be class B. Does that make sense?" she asked.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER  said  he  didn't have  an  answer  to  the                                                               
question.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
LT. STOREY stated that he  was available to answer questions from                                                               
the  public  safety  standpoint.  He  said  he  had  no  prepared                                                               
comments, but it  is a good bill  and they support it  as a means                                                               
of breaking the cycle of this type of exploitation.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked for a motion.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COWDERY  motioned to moved  CSHB 334(RLS)  from committee                                                               
with  individual recommendations  and accompanying  fiscal notes.                                                               
He asked for unanimous consent.  There being no objection, it was                                                               
so ordered.                                                                                                                     

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