Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/12/1996 01:30 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
         SB 264 LIMIT SUSPENDED IMPOSITION OF SENTENCE                        
                                                                              
 KELLY HUBER, legislative aide to Senator Halford, sponsor of the              
 measure, explained the bill limits the authority of the courts to             
 suspend the imposition of sentences in criminal cases by adding to            
 the list of offenses a person cannot receive a suspended sentence             
 for.  Those offenses are crimes against a person (AS 11.41) or                
 arson in the first degree.  It also prevents a person convicted of            
 a second felony, from receiving a suspended sentence.                         
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked if SB 264 only pertains to felonies.  MS.               
 HUBER answered it does not; AS 11.41 includes misdemeanors.                   
                                                                               
 Number 044                                                                    
                                                                               
 BARBARA BRINK, Public Defender Agency, expressed concern about the            
 broad range of the bill.   The Public Defender Agency believes the            
 committee should consider modifying the bill so that it only deals            
 with felony offenses.  The ability to suspend sentences provides an           
 opportunity for deserving first offenders to try to get their                 
 records clean, and is used sparingly by judges, usually only for              
 first offenders or older people who have become productive members            
 of society but experience a lapse in judgment.  The misdemeanors              
 encompassed in AS 11.41 include assault in the fourth degree,                 
 reckless endangerment, and custodial interference.  A person can be           
 convicted of fourth degree assault or reckless endangerment simply            
 for placing another person in fear, such as for setting off                   
 fireworks.  Communities benefit if judges are allowed to exercise             
 discretion by giving offenders an opportunity to wipe their records           
 clean.  A suspended sentence often provides great incentive to work           
 at one's rehabilitation, and may require probation, restitution,              
 and community work.                                                           
                                                                               
 MS. BRINK explained assault in the third degree occurs when one               
 places another in fear by means of a dangerous instrument.  She               
 recounted a case of a defendant (an 18 year old) who was convicted            
 of assault in the third degree for driving over the speed limit.              
 The driver had no prior record but did cause harm to someone.                 
 There was no alcohol involved.  The SIS prevents someone from being           
 permanently branded who makes a mistake.  She suggested removing              
 all misdemeanors and assault in the third degree from the bill.               
                                                                               
 Number 118                                                                    
                                                                               
 ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, stated no position on             
 the bill, but suggested adding a reference to AS 11.41 on line 6,             
 page 1.                                                                       
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR announced there was a pending amendment that would            
 be offered by Senator Adams.                                                  
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS explained the amendment provides the judge an                   
 opportunity to impose a suspended sentence for first time offenders           
 for the list of crimes discussed by Ms. Brink.                                
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS moved and asked unanimous consent that amendment #1             
 be adopted.  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR objected for the purpose of discussion           
 and noted SB 264 will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee,               
 where the sponsor is a co-chair.  He asked Senator Adams if the               
 amendment removes only misdemeanor offenses.  SENATOR ADAMS                   
 clarified all three offenses removed by the amendment are                     
 misdemeanors and there will be no possibility of a suspended                  
 sentence for a second offense.  There being no further objection to           
 the amendment, the motion carried.                                            
                                                                               
 SENATOR GREEN moved SB 264 as amended out of committee with                   
 individual recommendations.  There being no objection, the motion             
 carried.                                                                      

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