Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2001-02-20 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

2001-02-20                     Senate Journal                      Page 0433
SB 106                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 106 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                                                   
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                                               
          "An Act relating to the rights of crime victims, the                                      
          crime of violating a protective injunction, mitigating                                    
          factors in sentencing for an offense, and the return of                                   
          certain seized property to victims; clarifying that a                                     
          violation of certain protective orders is contempt of                                     
          the authority of the court; expanding the scope of the                                    
          prohibition of compromise based on civil remedy of                                        
          misdemeanor crimes involving domestic violence;                                           
          providing for protective relief for victims of stalking                                   
          that is not domestic violence and for the crime of                                        
          violating an order for that relief; providing for                                         
          continuing education regarding domestic violence for                                      
          certain persons appointed by the court; making                                            
          certain conforming amendments; amending Rules                                             
          65.1 and 100(a), Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure;                                         
          amending Rules 10, 11, 13, 16, and 17, Alaska                                             
          District Court Rules of Civil Procedure; and                                              
          amending Rule 9, Alaska Rules of Administration."                                         
was read the first time and referred to the Judiciary and Finance                                   
The following fiscal information was published today:                                               
 Fiscal Note No. 1, indeterminate, Department of Administration                                     
 Fiscal Note No. 2, indeterminate, Department of Corrections                                        
 Fiscal Note No. 3, zero, Department of Law                                                         
Governor's transmittal letter dated February 16:                                                    
Dear President Halford:                                                                             
The Victims' Rights Amendment to the Alaska Constitution was                                        
approved by 87 percent of Alaska voters and has been in effect since                                
December 30, 1994. Since then, we have continued to learn more                                      
about the difficulties crime victims face and how we may be able to                                 

2001-02-20                     Senate Journal                      Page 0434
assist them through changes within the legal system. This bill I am                                 
transmitting today proposes several measures to further protect victims                             
and help them deal with the problems they encounter. Each proposal is                               
described in further detail below.                                                                  
     · Allowing a mitigated presumptive sentence for speedy no                                      
          contest or guilty pleas;                                                                  
     · Simplifying procedures for victims to recover stolen property;                               
     · Establishing a crime for violating protective injunctions in                                 
          child in need of aid cases;                                                               
     · Extending current disallowance of civil compromise in some                                   
           domestic violence cases to all domestic violence cases;                                 
     · Simplifying the process for stalking victims to get protection                               
     · Establishing that a protective order violation could cause at                                
          least a contempt of court charge and fine;                                                
     · Requiring officials working with custody disputes be trained                                 
          in domestic violence law.                                                                 
Mitigated Presumptive Sentences. The bill allows the court to mitigate                            
a presumptive sentence when the defendant pleads no contest or guilty                               
within 30 days after being charged. The reasoning is that early                                     
admission on the part of the defendant relieves the victim of some of                               
the suffering involved in long, drawn out court procedures. This                                    
concept has already been recognized by the courts as a non-statutory                                
mitigating factor. State v. McKinney, 946 P.2d 456 (Alaska 1997).                                 
Recovering Stolen Property. The bill establishes a simplified                                     
procedure for theft victims to recover property that is in the possession                           
of a law enforcement agency after having been recovered from a                                      
pawnshop or secondhand dealer. The current process is based on                                      
federal procedure and requires the victim to initiate formal legal                                  
proceedings to recover property. Under this less formal procedure, the                              
victim could file a petition in state court supported by affidavit of                               
ownership. The pawnshop or secondhand dealer can file a response                                    
supported by affidavit. Ownership may then be decided based on the                                  
information in the affidavits.                                                                      

2001-02-20                     Senate Journal                      Page 0435
Protective Injunction Violations. Alaska law authorizes the court to                              
issue a protective injunction in child in need of aid (CINA)                                        
proceedings that orders perpetrators to stay away from a child. These                               
are similar to protective orders in domestic violence cases. Unlike                                 
domestic violence protective orders, however, it is not a separate crime                            
to violate a protective injunction for a child in a CINA proceeding.                                
The bill corrects this unjust inconsistency by making it a class A                                  
misdemeanor for a perpetrator to violate the CINA injunction.                                       
Civil Compromise in Domestic Violence Cases. Alaska allows a                                      
person charged with a misdemeanor that harms a person or property to                                
enter into a civil compromise by agreeing to pay the victim for                                     
personal costs, such as medical expenses or property damage. If the                                 
victim appears in court and acknowledges in writing that the defendant                              
has paid the damages, the court may dismiss the charges, even if the                                
prosecution objects to the dismissal. There are several exceptions in                               
the statute allowing for civil compromise. One of the exceptions                                    
disallows compromise of cases between spouses and former spouses,                                   
or persons living together in a family or spousal relationship. The                                 
exception does not, however, include all domestic violence crimes. For                              
example, it does not include domestic violence by a person who lived                                
with another person if the court determines that the relationship was                               
not a spousal relationship. This bill extends the disallowance of civil                             
compromise to all cases involving domestic violence as defined in the                               
Domestic Violence Prevention and Victim Protection Act of 1996.                                     
Civil compromise is not appropriate in domestic violence cases. This                                
bill ensures that it will not occur.                                                                
Protection From Stalking. Stalking is a crime that may be unconnected                             
to domestic violence yet also warrants protection for the victim. These                             
stalking victims are often children and their families. The current                                 
procedure for obtaining protection in these types of stalking cases                                 
requires a filing fee and, usually, an attorney to handle the complicated                           
paperwork. Victims may not have the resources for this effort and                                   
therefore go unprotected. This bill establishes a procedure similar to                              
that for a domestic violence protective order, a simple process with no                             
filing fee or need for sophisticated knowledge of the legal system. The                             
clerk of court would provide forms for requesting protection and                                    
assistance in completing them. Violation of certain provisions of a                                 
stalking protective order of this type would be a class A misdemeanor.                              

2001-02-20                     Senate Journal                      Page 0436
Protective Order Violations. Currently, not all violations of a                                   
protective order result in consequences to the offender. Typically, the                             
more dangerous violations carry a criminal charge; others may have no                               
direct consequence. This bill establishes that a person who violates                                
any provision of a protective order may, at a minimum be held in                                    
contempt of court.                                                                                  
Domestic Violence Training. It's important that anyone officially                                 
involved in custody disputes, such as guardians ad litem, child custody                             
investigators, and mediators, be trained in domestic violence laws.                                 
These persons need to understand statutory provisions that prohibit                                 
mediation in domestic violence cases and that require consideration of                              
evidence of domestic violence in custody determinations.                                            
Victim protection is a priority of all Alaskans. I urge your prompt and                             
favorable consideration of this bill.                                                               
       Tony Knowles