Legislature(2007 - 2008)
2008-01-17 House JournalFull Journal pdf
2008-01-17 House Journal Page 1731 HB 323 HOUSE BILL NO. 323 by the House Rules Committee by request of the Governor, entitled: "An Act relating to the crimes of assault in the fourth degree and of resisting or interfering with arrest; relating to the determination of time of a conviction; relating to offenses concerning controlled substances; relating to issuance of search warrants; relating to persons found incompetent to stand trial concerning criminal conduct; relating to probation and to restitution for fish and game violations; relating to aggravating factors at sentencing; relating to criminal extradition authority of the governor; removing the statutory bar to prosecution of certain crimes; amending Rule 37(b), Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure, relating to execution of warrants; and providing for an effective date." was read the first time and referred to the Judiciary and Finance Committees. The following fiscal note(s) apply: 1. Zero, Dept. of Health & Social Services 2. Zero, Dept. of Public Safety 3. Indeterminate, Dept. of Administration 4. Indeterminate, Dept. of Administration 5. Indeterminate, Dept. of Corrections 6. Fiscal, Dept. of Law 2008-01-17 House Journal Page 1732 The Governor's transmittal letter dated January 15, 2008, follows: "Dear Speaker Harris: Under the authority of art. III, sec. 18, of the Alaska Constitution, I am transmitting a bill making important changes to Alaska criminal law. These changes would continue the state's efforts to make Alaska a safer and healthier place to live and work. Domestic and other forms of violence are highly prevalent in Alaska. It is shocking that women are murdered by men in Alaska at one of the highest rates in the country. Domestic violence, and other forms of violence, often begin by a perpetrator committing less serious assaults, and then progressing to more harmful conduct. Most domestic violence assaults are prosecuted as assault in the fourth degree, which is a class A misdemeanor. The bill would address the progressive nature of violence by providing that a person convicted of assault in the fourth degree (except under the theory of recklessly placing another in fear) who has two or more convictions for serious crimes against a person in the past 10 years, would be guilty of a class C felony. The maximum term of incarceration for a class C felony is five years. The procedure for protecting the public from a person, who as a result of a mental disease or defect is incompetent to be tried for a crime, has some cracks that need to be filled. Two recent cases have highlighted the problem. For example, a person charged with a serious felony was found to be incompetent to be tried for the offense. After a period at Alaska Psychiatric Institute, the person was released, returned to the person's home community, and again committed the same serious felony. The bill would address this problem in several ways; first it requires a person found incompetent to be referred to the commissioner of health and social services for evaluation and treatment. It would also require ten days notice to the prosecuting authority by the professional in charge of the person's care before the person may be released. 2008-01-17 House Journal Page 1733 The bill would also clarify the intent of the Legislature when it provided, in the late 1980s, that a third conviction for theft within a five year period would increase the severity of the crime one level. At that time it was generally assumed, for purposes of subsequent enhancement, that a conviction occurs at the time the sentence was imposed. The bill would provide expressly in statute that, in looking back to the prior convictions for purposes of enhancing the current theft, the court should look back to the date the defendant was sentenced for the prior offenses. Since early statehood, Alaska has had a statutory prohibition on the state prosecuting and punishing a person, including a corporation, for an act that another jurisdiction has already prosecuted. This policy is not based on constitutional law; the state and federal constitutional prohibitions against being placed twice in jeopardy for the same act do not prohibit distinct government authorities from prosecuting the same act under different bodies of law. Recent events have suggested a reconsideration of this policy. The federal criminal prosecution of misconduct by public officials in Alaska is an example of crime that might also be pursued under state law. The state should be able to protect its unique interests, even when the federal government has acted to redress federal interests. Repeal of AS 11.71.310 (Bar to Prosecution) and AS 12.20.010 (Conviction or Acquittal Elsewhere as Bar) would assist in that endeavor. The bill would make other changes in criminal law. One would allow a court to issue a search warrant by telephone or other reliable means rather than an in person hearing. Telephonic communications today are sophisticated enough to allow for a fair hearing without requiring a personal appearance; most Alaskans rely on telephonic communications for many of their important affairs. The bill would also give judges more discretion to allow a later return of a search warrant inventory to allow for long-term investigations and protection of persons working with law enforcement. Another provision adds the substances commonly know as Soma and Ambien to Schedule IVA of Alaska's prohibited substances. Recent injuries from driving impaired by misuse of these substances support their addition to Alaska's drug schedules as controlled substances. 2008-01-17 House Journal Page 1734 Enactment of this bill into law would protect Alaskans and help the criminal justice system function fairly and at the same time more efficiently. I urge your prompt and favorable consideration of it. Sincerely, /s/ Sarah Palin Governor"