Legislature(2005 - 2006)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/20/2006 01:30 PM FINANCE

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Heard & Held
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled from 04/19/06>
Heard & Held
   CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 200(JUD) am                                                                                         
     An Act relating to defense of self, other persons,                                                                         
     property, or services.                                                                                                     
DAVE STANCLIFF,  STAFF, SENATOR GENE THERRIAULT,  stated that                                                                   
SB  200  was  introduced  to  allow  individuals  to  protect                                                                   
themselves  and  others from  violent  crimes.   Based  on  a                                                                   
Florida Statute  hailed as  the "Castle  Law", SB 200  allows                                                                   
force or  deadly force  as a legally  available option  under                                                                   
certain circumstances  where life, property, and  the welfare                                                                   
of others is at risk.                                                                                                           
Mr. Stancliff noted the provision  excluding the use of force                                                                   
for any  reason against  law enforcement officers,  emergency                                                                   
services  personnel   and/or  those  assisting   in  official                                                                   
2:42:32 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice  Chair  Stoltze  said  he   had  heard  concerns  voiced                                                                   
regarding the  time after exercising the "doable  force", the                                                                   
person  being prosecuted.   Mr. Stancliff  declared  that was                                                                   
motivation  for  the  bill and  the  front  section  includes                                                                   
2:44:35 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Hawker asked  about the  legal precedence  of                                                                   
the  language  on Page  3,  removing  "duty to  retreat"  and                                                                   
replacing  it with  "leaving the  place of  encounter".   Mr.                                                                   
Stanclif deferred to the Department of Law.                                                                                     
SUSAN  PARKS,  DEPUTY ATTORNEY  GENERAL,  CRIMINAL  DIVISION,                                                                   
DEPARTMENT  OF LAW, addressed  the change  in terminology  on                                                                   
Page 3, stating that the Department  did not believe it would                                                                   
raise concerns  regarding legal  precedent.  In  working with                                                                   
the Sponsor,  they attempted  to make  the self-defense  laws                                                                   
easier to  understand.  Previously,  she thought it  was more                                                                   
difficult   to  get   lawyers   and  jurors   to   understand                                                                   
phraseology.  She  stated the Department was  involved in the                                                                   
drafting the bill.                                                                                                              
2:48:30 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms. Parks  noted the  Department supports  the rewrite.   She                                                                   
offered to answer questions of the Committee.                                                                                   
Representative Kerttula  referred  to the section on immunity                                                                   
and asked if  the person was acting in true  self-defense and                                                                   
the other person turned out to  be an off-duty peace officer,                                                                   
how would that be resolved.  Ms.  Parks stated the Department                                                                   
had not  been involved in drafting  that portion.   She added                                                                   
it  would be  left  to the  jury to  decide  the immunity  or                                                                   
liability.  The  plaintiff would not automatically  be liable                                                                   
or immune.                                                                                                                      
   2:50:26 PM                                                                                                                 
   Representative Kerttula  referred to  the section addressing                                                                 
   gangs; she  thought  there was  justification  available for                                                                 
   self-defense written  into Section 2.   In  that section,  an                                                                
   individual might not be able to use the justifications.                                                                      
   Ms. Parks stated that section pertains to "shoot outs".  The                                                                 
   Sponsor attempted to carve out  situations when a person  was                                                                
   engaging in criminal type  behavior, when self-defense would                                                                 
   not apply.   She referred to  Subsection 4,  (a,b,c,d).  The                                                                 
   intent is  meant  to  help  innocent  people  and  not those                                                                 
   involved in criminal acts.                                                                                                   
   Representative Kerttula  requested  clarification  regarding                                                                 
   new gang members,  who may not have  committed criminal acts                                                                 
   and could use  that self-defense  justification.   Ms. Parks                                                                 
   pointed  out  that  current  law  precludes  it;  if  one  is                                                                
   involved in such risky behavior,  they stand the risk of the                                                                 
   violent response.                                                                                                            
   Representative Kerttula  referred to  Page 2,  Subsection  C,                                                                
   Line 24, suggesting  they might have a  history of violence,                                                                 
   but not  committing  the  crime,  merely  responding  to the                                                                 
   conduct of others.   Ms. Parks offered to  follow up on that                                                                 
   2:55:05 PM                                                                                                                 
   Representative Hawker observed that Section 2, Subsection  4,                                                                
   was difficult language  to understand.   He pointed out that                                                                 
   in (D),  one might  not claim  self-defense if  that person,                                                                 
   possessed an illegal weapon.                                                                                                 
   Ms. Parks  acknowledged that  was  correct; she  pointed out                                                                 
   cases in which,  felons, who had  no legal right  to carry  a                                                                
   concealed weapon, end up in a confrontation and then claimed                                                                 
   2:57:14 PM                                                                                                                 
   Representative Hawker referred to (D) and the illegal nature                                                                 
   of the  weapon as  a result  of the  felony conviction.    He                                                                
   asked about the circumstances  of registered firearms and  if                                                                
   the individual could use the self-defense justification.                                                                     
   2:58:27 PM                                                                                                                 
   Ms. Parks replied the original restriction had been broader.                                                                 
   Under federal law, those involved in domestic violence could                                                                 
   possess weapons; many Alaskans do own weapons.                                                                               
   3:00:12 PM                                                                                                                 
Representative Holm noted    the    reference    to    "first                                                                   
responders"  and asked  if that  included  military or  other                                                                   
sections  of government.   He  asked  how that  related to  a                                                                   
person wanting  to protect themselves, "from  the government"                                                                   
taking property.                                                                                                                
3:01:42 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms. Parks referred to Section  1, which creates immunity from                                                                   
civil  liability.   She pointed  out  that subsection  merely                                                                   
prevents    the    immunity    from    becoming    automatic.                                                                   
Specifications  leave the  decision  to the  discretion of  a                                                                   
3:02:40 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice Chair Stoltze  noted  the arduous  process the  bill has                                                                   
gone through during other committee discussions.                                                                                
3:03:18 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Stancliff  mentioned amendments  made to the  bill during                                                                   
the committee process.  The bill  does not provide license to                                                                   
shoot  someone for  stealing property.   Each  case would  be                                                                   
weighed  on  terms regarding  "reasonably  necessary  force".                                                                   
The intent is  to provide individuals, the ability  to defend                                                                   
their life and property.                                                                                                        
PUBLIC TESTIMONY CLOSED                                                                                                         
Co-Chair Meyer asked  if the Sponsor  had supported  changes.                                                                   
Mr. Stancliff acknowledged that  amendment which the National                                                                   
Rifle Association  (NRA)  does not agree  with, however,  the                                                                   
overall  intention of  the bill  has remained  intact to  the                                                                   
satisfaction of the Sponsor.                                                                                                    
3:07:10 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Hawker expressed  appreciation for the process                                                                   
the bill has moved through.  He  referred to the provision on                                                                   
Page 2, the  possession of an illegal weapon,  resulting in a                                                                   
felony  conviction.   He thought  it created  a loophole  and                                                                   
asked why  the provision was  limited to instances  of felony                                                                   
conviction.  Mr. Stancliff provided  a hypothetical situation                                                                   
of a person owning  a shotgun and making the  decision to use                                                                   
it to protect their  home.  In that process,  they would open                                                                   
themselves up to prosecution for possession.                                                                                    
3:10:04 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice Chair Stoltze  reiterated,  is  the  bill  as  effective                                                                   
with the changes made in previous  committees.  Mr. Stancliff                                                                   
responded  that it is  impossible to  cover all  hypothetical                                                                   
   situations and  that the sponsor  is "comfortable"  with  the                                                                
   current form.                                                                                                                
   3:11:04 PM                                                                                                                 
   Representative Weyhrauch indicated   concern   that   if   an                                                                
   individual used  an  illegal  weapon, they  no  longer could                                                                 
   claim self-defense.                                                                                                          
   3:11:38 PM                                                                                                                 
   Representative Hawker asked for  the Sponsor's response to  a                                                                
   proposed change on  Page 2,  adding a period  after the word                                                                 
   "possess",  eliminating  "conviction  for  a  felony".   Mr.                                                                 
   Stancliff thought  the change  could make  the justification                                                                 
   3:13:02 PM                                                                                                                 
   Representative Hawker  thought  that  loophole,  provides  an                                                                
   opportunity for a misdemeanor domestic violence perpetrator,                                                                 
   to  use  the  clause.    Mr.  Stancliff  said  it  could   be                                                                
   considered a friendly amendment.                                                                                             
   3:14:10 PM                                                                                                                 
   Vice Chair Stoltze  commented that  technical matters should                                                                 
   not be dealt with  "hastily".  He  suggested taking the time                                                                 
   necessary to work  it out,  since House Finance  is the last                                                                 
   committee of referral.                                                                                                       
   Co-Chair Meyer agreed that  if the bill were  held, it would                                                                 
   provide the time for needed discussion.                                                                                      
   3:15:59 PM                                                                                                                 
   SB 200 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                                                                      

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