Legislature(2005 - 2006)HOUSE FINANCE 519
04/20/2006 01:30 PM FINANCE
Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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 duties. 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 exceptions. 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 conversation. 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 self-defense. 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 judge. 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 "unusable". 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.