Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/03/1993 09:10 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE BILL NO. 19 An Act relating to the crime of conspiracy. Upon convening the meeting, Co-chair Pearce directed that SB 19 be again brought on for hearing and announced her intent to move the bill from committee. She then referenced the following letter of intent from Senator Halford and advised of his request that it be adopted: It is the intent of the Senate Finance Committee that law enforcement techniques employed in investigations of criminal conspiracy as defined in Senate Bill 19 should be consistent with the protections against police entrapment under AS 11.81.450. JOHN SHEPHERD, aide to Senator Halford, came before committee. He explained that the above language is intended to address concerns raised by Senators Kelly and Kerttula when the bill was previously before committee. The Dept. of Law reviewed existing statutes relating to entrapment and cited the pertinent section in the letter of intent. Co-chair Pearce directed attention to new fiscal notes for the legislation and explained that SFC notes reduce numbers for the Dept. of Corrections, Alaska Court System, Office of Public Advocacy, and Public Defender Agency to match numbers provided by the Dept. of Law in terms of anticipated cases that might be brought under conspiracy law. She referenced information in the Dept. of Law fiscal note indicating that conspiracy would be included as an additional count in cases that would be prosecuted anyway. The major effect of conspiracy statutes would be to permit introduction of additional evidence at trial. Senator Kelly MOVED for adoption of intent language as a Senate Finance letter of intent. No objection having been raised, the Senate Finance letter of intent was ADOPTED. Senator Rieger directed attention to CSSB 19 (Jud), page 2, lines 2-13, and raised questions regarding application to juveniles and mentally incompetent individuals. DEAN GUANELI, Chief, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Dept. of Law, came before committee. He explained that to be convicted of a crime under Alaska law, one must be "acting with a certain mental state" (acting either intentionally or recklessly) when the crime is committed. Certain factors, however, preclude a jury from finding that a perpetrator so acted. As an example, Mr. Guaneli noted that if the perpetrator was intoxicated, the jury would be justified in finding that he or she did not act intentionally. Questioned language says that if one conspires with someone who is intoxicated, and the jury finds that the intoxicated individual does not fall under legally required intent provisions, the conspirator can still be convicted of conspiracy. Intoxication of one of the conspirators does not excuse a co-conspirator. Senator Rieger then asked if an individual could be excused from being charged with a crime because of his or her mental state but might not be excused from conspiring. Mr. Guaneli reiterated that an individual may be excused if peculiar circumstances surround the person's mental state, i.e. intoxication or incapacity. Co-conspirators, however, would not be similarly excused. Application of the mental state test is individually based. One cannot rely upon another's mental deficiencies to escape a charge. Senator Rieger next asked how the foregoing examples would apply to those who are judged "legally incapable in an individual capacity of committing a crime." Mr. Guaneli referred to existing statutory defenses based on age. Language in the proposed bill says that the fact that an individual conspires with a juvenile who is, by legal definition, incapable of committing the crime does not excuse the conspirator. An individual is not excused because he or she hires a juvenile to commit a crime. Senator Rieger then asked if the language would work in reverse. If a juvenile conspires with an older person does the juvenile lose that defense? Mr. Guaneli responded negatively. He explained that the defense is personal to the juvenile. Since the juvenile is of an age that cannot legally commit the crime, he or she would not be guilty of conspiracy. Senator Rieger suggested that language within subsection (c) (page 2, line 2) states that "It is not a defense that the defendant belongs to a class of persons who are legally incapable of committing the crime." Mr. Guaneli acknowledged need to review the language in relation to existing law. Co-chair Pearce asked if Senator Rieger wished to hold the bill for future amendment. Senator Rieger answered affirmatively. He advised that his first reading of the bill highlighted potential for inadvertent inclusion of juveniles who conspire with adults. The Co-chair directed that SB 19 be HELD in committee. She further asked that Senator Rieger prepare his amendment for presentation at the Friday committee meeting. Senator Rieger said he would do so. He voiced support for the legislation and said it was not his intent to hold it. The apparent loophole, however, should be closed.