Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/15/1996 01:30 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 314 VIOLATING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ORDERS REPRESENTATIVE SEAN PARNELL, sponsor of HB 314, highlighted the bill. The original bill, as passed to the Senate, revised statutes related to violations of domestic violence restraining orders, and included a prohibition against tape recording by defense attorneys of the victim or a witness without the victim's or witness' consent by defense attorneys. At the request of many interested individuals and groups, the proposed committee substitute presents a more comprehensive approach to domestic violence in Alaska. The committee substitute is based, in part, on the Model Code on Domestic and Family Violence and is focussed on victim protection and domestic violence prevention. The bill provides for three types of protective orders: an emergency protective order for 72 hours that can be obtained by a peace officer; an ex parte order which is a 20 day protective order; and a protective order that is issued after notice and a hearing that offers some protections for one year, or until changed by the court. It also allows an opportunity for the respondent to attempt to modify an ex parte protective order after three days notice and a hearing. The act rewrites the crime of violating a protective order which, as under current law, is a class A misdemeanor. The act also creates a central registry of protective orders. It provides for mandatory arrest of the primary physical aggressor if the violence has occurred within 12 hours of the call to law enforcement officers. The act requires the courts and correctional system to consider the safety of the victims during all aspects of the case, from conditions of release to notifying the victim of furloughs and prereleases. Before entering a plea agreement, it requires the prosecutor to make a reasonable effort to concur with the domestic violence code. It also adds training requirements in domestic violence for all law enforcement and public employees who deal with domestic violence victims. With respect to divorce and child custody, it tightens requirements of when the court can order mediation. He urged the committee's support of the measure. SENATOR ADAMS moved the committee adopt SCSCSHB 314(JUD) am (version W). SENATOR GREEN objected. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR commented the original bill was 4 pages, and the proposed committee substitute is about 50 pages. He asked why the legislation has grown over tenfold. TAPE 96-39, SIDE A Number 005 REPRESENTATIVE PARNELL explained the original legislation expanded and clarified the crime of violating a domestic violence restraining order. It also included a surreptitious taping component, which said a person working for the defense cannot secretly tape record a crime victim or witness without consent. He introduced the bill last April but became familiar with the Model Code during the interim, which the new draft is based on. He also watched closely the Governor's work with respect to domestic violence legislation. He offered his bill as a vehicle to members of the Administration to help aid in the process of getting a comprehensive approach to domestic violence on the table, which is why the bill has grown. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked which provisions of the draft were in the original bill. REPRESENTATIVE PARNELL responded Sections 18 - 21 were the original bill. SENATOR GREEN asked if the bill contains a definition section. REPRESENTATIVE PARNELL answered there are two definition sections; Section 990 on page 29 contains the domestic violence definitions. REPRESENTATIVE PARNELL asked committee members if they had amendments in their packets that he planned to propose. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR acknowledged the amendments were made available to the committee. SENATOR ELLIS asked Chairman Taylor if he planned to hold the amendments at this time. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR responded he planned to hold them, as the committee substitute has not even been adopted yet. He planned to incorporate all changes at one time. LAURIE OTTO, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Law, discussed her background as a prosecutor, and the frustration prosecutors experience because of their inability to do anything to stop the flood of cases they receive. A high percentage of homicides in Alaska are related to domestic violence, and Alaska has a high rate of child abuse and neglect. Nationwide, children that grow up in homes with domestic violence are 1500 times more likely to be abused. The abuse and neglect comes from both the perpetrator and the victim. Abused or neglected children are 40 percent more likely to become involved with the criminal justice system. She emphasized something needs to be done to stop the flood of people coming into the criminal justice system and to stop the number of children accounting for the rise in juvenile crime so that we can spend our resources on education rather than prisons. Merely locking people up for domestic violence does not treat the problem. Good laws are not useful unless people are trained to use them. This bill takes the best provisions of the Model Code which was drafted after the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court judges spent three years working on this issue. The bill also includes training and prevention components, as well as civil and criminal components. She appreciated the work put into the bill by the sponsor. Number 179 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked what percentage of the people who initiate a domestic violence restraining order reconcile with their partners. MS. OTTO did not know. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked if she would estimate an amount. MS. OTTO said she could not give an answer, but she has consistently seen people who are trying to get out of abusive relationships cycle through the system more than once. The choice of being out on the street with your children or returning to a violent relationship is a hard one. Additionally, many of the victims grew up in violent homes and think that is an acceptable form of behavior. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked Ms. Otto to explain Section 6 on page 3. MS. OTTO responded one of the things that happens in trials is that defendants, who are operating under a court order to not have contact with another person, claim as a defense that they did not initiate the contact. The victim will disagree and the situation becomes a "he said-she said" swearing match. The state needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what occurred, therefore prosecutors are left hard pressed to protect people who have gotten protective orders when the person ordered has the obligation to stay away. Number 225 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR discussed a common scenario where an abused wife comes before the court and requests an emergency order to protect her from the violent husband. The court issues the order which prohibits any contact with the wife. After things cool down, he has seen in his experience as a judge, a large percent of those people attempt to reconcile. The wife contacts the husband. Under this provision, the husband would be in violation of the order. MS. OTTO responded this bill makes it very easy for people to get modifications to protective orders: all either party needs to do is ask the court for modifications. It is far more desirable, if people are reconciling, that they ask that the protective order be lifted. She noted she would be uncomfortable with people picking and choosing which court orders they would obey. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR commented that according to the bill, it would not matter what the factual circumstances were, or who had initiated the contact: the other party would still be at fault. MS. OTTO pointed out the respondent would be under a specific court order to not have contact but if either side wanted to initiate contact, they would request the court to lift the order. The court would do so if it was acceptable to both sides. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked why not put the hammer on both sides. The respondent would be ordered to have no contact, but how is that person to know which phone calls to answer before picking up the phone. Most people involved in these situations cannot act rationally and maintain total emotional control. It is unlikely the respondent will actually require the wife to go to court to lift the restraining order before speaking. He guessed the percentage of couples who reconcile is very high. This bill would make a criminal out of the respondent for attempting to respond to the wife's contact. If people routinely got orders changed, the Child Support Enforcement Division would not be chasing people all over the country. MS. OTTO felt that situation is different because to get a child support order changed is complicated: standards are based on a complicated body of case law. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR replied all it takes is a 10 percent decrease in income. If the father loses his job for four months he has probably lost 10 percent of his income and does not have the money to hire an attorney and go to court. Additionally, it is not easy to go to court if the court only comes to town once a month. MS. OTTO stated she understood Chairman Taylor's point, however has seen the opposite situation more often than not: cases where the victim has not initiated contact and wants nothing to do with the respondent. The respondent claims the victim is the one who initiated contact, and even though it is a lie, it becomes an impossible burden to overcome and disprove. That means people go to court seeking protection and expect the system to back up the order, but get no help if the respondent lies and asserts the victim initiated contact, because the state cannot provide evidence. Because protective orders are used to protect peoples' lives they need to be enforceable. Based on the Department of Law's limited resources it would not take a case if a victim contacted an offender. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said he has seen, over many years, a terrible cycle of abusive relationships where the couple goes through an abusive experience, then has a strong desire to reconcile, does so for a short period of time, and then something triggers another violent episode, and the cycle repeats itself. Depending on what phase of the cycle the parties are in, the wife either desires the order, or does not. She either listens to the advice of counselors, or does not. She either files for divorce, or dismisses the case and returns to the relationship. He did not believe the Department of Law would not prosecute in such a case. MS. OTTO said she was speaking to the example he gave of the wife calling her husband on the phone even though he was under a protective order. She repeated she has never seen a case like that prosecuted and she does not believe such cases are prosecuted. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR clarified they are not being prosecuted because to date such situations have been handled as violations of a domestic relations order, not crimes. MS. OTTO responded a violation of a domestic relations order is a crime at present. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR pointed out that in the past it was considered a civil matter which came before the court civilly. MS. OTTO said it has been a crime for approximately five years. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said he knew that, but he is speaking to the evolution of this process. He noted there was a case in Wrangell about five years ago where a woman got a restraining order against a man, but then kept following him around town in her car. He complained to police about it, but no one believed him until two police officers witnessed it happening. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR emphasized people use and misuse the system. He noted two cases where policemen were beat up by the victim after stopping a domestic violence dispute. Emotions in these situations run very high, and it is important to separate those involved, but to create a process which gives one side the right to have the other side revoked because they initiated the contact would not work unless both parties are rational and objective. Number 390 SENATOR GREEN referred to definitions of crimes on page 19 which use active language, and the list of crimes related to domestic violence which use passive descriptions. She asked if assault is classified as assault whether it occurs in the home or elsewhere, and whether it is treated differently under this bill. MS. OTTO referred to the definition of a crime involving domestic violence on page 29 and the list of crimes that are on page 19. The difference between the two lists is the criminal mischief under (E) which contains vandalism offenses that commonly occur in domestic violence situations. There was no desire to pick up criminal mischief except in domestic violence situations because it is often a precursor to physical violence. Harassment offenses are also limited to the domestic violence context. She clarified assault is assault: if one is charged with a domestic violence assault, the DPS computer system will list assault, not a crime involving domestic violence, but a domestic violence flag would accompany the offense in the computer system. Number 428 SENATOR GREEN asked if domestic violence would be classified as a felony. MS. OTTO answered domestic violence is not a separate offense. The bill has taken the kinds of offenses people commit as part of domestic violence, and grouped them together and called them crimes involving domestic violence. Once an offense occurs, a number of things would happen according to the bill, but some of the offenses are misdemeanors and some are felonies. SENATOR GREEN asked if the new list is duplicative of what is in existing statute. MS. OTTO clarified the bill does not create new crimes; it does create a new name for the violation of a protective order. SENATOR GREEN asked if a neighbor assaulted her versus a person she lived with, whether the penalty would be the same and whether she could get a protective order against the neighbor. MS. OTTO answered a protective order is not a penalty, it is a device to protect oneself. The penalty would be the same for both: fourth degree assault. Crimes are charged under existing law. SENATOR GREEN asked if the same standard would apply to a neighbor using a weapon against her. MS. OTTO stated that would carry a different penalty. If a person is convicted of assaulting his/her spouse with a weapon, HB 314 calls for mandatory forfeiture of the weapon; that would not apply to the neighbor. She emphasized a spouse would actually have to be using the weapon in the assault for forfeiture to be mandatory. SENATOR GREEN asked about line 6 on page 22. MS. OTTO clarified page 22 only applies to protective orders and noted Representative Parnell has a proposed amendment to narrow that section, which the Department of Law supports. SENATOR GREEN recounted a situation she was involved in years ago in which she helped a victim of domestic violence get out of an abusive relationship. At the time she found it cumbersome that the standard for prosecution was so high because the perpetrator no longer lived with the victim. She asked what the first line of protection is for a domestic violence victim who calls the police. MS. OTTO replied if a victim calls police to the house, and is being assaulted at that time, the bill requires the person committing the assault to be arrested and removed from the home. If the victim calls the day after the assault, an investigation will occur before any action is taken because the evidence is not as readily available. SENATOR GREEN asked what evidence would be required of the victim's statement if the victim contacted police one day after an assault. MS. OTTO clarified to get a protective order, the victim would need to appear in court, fill out forms, and provide the court with evidence that the crime of domestic violence was committed against her. If the evidence is produced, the court will order a protective order. If you are seeking to have someone prosecuted for assaulting you, the prosecutor would have to conclude there is sufficient evidence to prove to a trial jury beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed against you. SENATOR GREEN asked when issuing the protective order based on the victim's statement, what penalties or restrictions can be imposed on the respondent. MS. OTTO replied the victim would need to swear to the facts and provide evidence that is acceptable to the court. When that occurs, the court can issue an order that contains the provisions on page 23, line 22. There are broader protections the court can order after notice and a hearing is provided to the person who is accused of assault. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR referred to page 25 and asked why the bill would prevent the court from imposing conditions on both parties during the hearing for the restraining order. MS. OTTO answered that is because as a predicate to entering an order, the finding that domestic violence was committed against another person needs to be established. If a person has not committed domestic violence, there is nothing to trigger court jurisdiction. Because protective orders are designed to protect people, the protection proceeding focusses on protection from violence, not counseling or behavior correction. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR discussed a situation where a woman goes to a shelter and files a complaint for divorce. The court, under divorce jurisdiction, has all kinds of authority to separate people. On page 26, the bill says the petitioner is not barred from seeking an order under this chapter because of the existence of another civil action between the petitioner and the respondent. That means even though orders are in place when a divorce case is pending, either party is free to go into court to seek an additional protective order. Number 599 MS. OTTO stated one of the things the bill requires of a person seeking a protective order is that the person disclose to the court any outstanding civil or criminal matters to avoid forum shopping and duplication of effort. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR believed the system could be easily abused in that process. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked why the bill prevents the court from entering an order against the petitioner or referring the parties into mediation. MS. OTTO explained the problem with mediation is that unlike arbitration, where a neutral third party makes the decision after hearing evidence from both sides, mediation has a neutral third party who does not express an opinion. The mediator attempts to help the parties come to a mutual agreement. It is premised on the idea that the parties have equal footing. In domestic violence situations, the parties are not on equal footing, and nationwide it has been discovered that mediation often triggers domestic violence incidents. For that reason, both the American and Canadian mediation societies have recommended against mediation for domestic violence issues. The Department of Law has taken the middle ground on this issue except for mediation directly related to domestic violence issues. If mediation is occurring in another context between parties where there is ongoing domestic violence, the bill provides that mediation can take place only if protections for the victim are in place. TAPE 96-39, SIDE B MS. OTTO stated that is the approach recommended by the National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges. SENATOR GREEN commented that in other testimony taken on mediation, mediators informed committee members that mediation does not need to occur with all parties in the same room, and it has been successful. MS. OTTO repeated the Department of Law has agreed to take a middle ground, so that in cases where the victim is agreeable to mediation, it can occur. JAYNE ANDREEN, Executive Director of the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, stated more than 25 percent of Alaskan woman have been physically or emotionally abused by a spouse or live-in partner. More than 10 percent of women report their abusers used a gun or knife against them, in addition to being bitten or burned by the abuser. Up to 90 percent of their children witness abuse and between 35 to 75 percent of those children are also abused. Intervention is very complex. As a society, we view domestic violence as a women's issue rather than the serious criminal behavior that it actually is. Domestic violence is a series of controlling behaviors that lead to physical abuse. The behaviors develop and evolve over a period of time. Victims and offenders often fear the stigma that's attached to reaching out for help. We have many problems in our criminal justice system that hinder our ability to respond to these crimes. Cultural factors often prohibit victims from seeking help. The system does not hold offenders accountable, and is slow and cumbersome in responding to these crimes. Victims are not aware of their civil and criminal options and the effect of domestic violence on children is too often forgotten. The current civil restraining order time is limited, leaving victims vulnerable to additional abuse after 90 days. In order to make real changes, the system must respond in a timely fashion and provide immediate consequences for domestic violence. She urged committee members to support the proposed committee substitute. If this legislation passes, everyone will operate with the same level of understanding when it comes to domestic violence. This bill represents the establishment of a statewide, public policy against domestic violence at both the state and local level. It gives everyone concerned about these problems the opportunity to respond rather than react to domestic violence. This bill does not change Alaska's laws on domestic violence: it restructures the approach to domestic violence. Number 570 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked Ms. Andreen if she could answer his previous question about the percent of people who cycle back through the system. MS. ANDREEN estimated a victim of domestic violence will reach out for help between five and twelve times to end the abuse in the relationship. Those attempts include contact with a shelter, with the police, or with family members. Victim advocates try to maintain a safe educational approach that allows the victim to make the choices she needs to make and continue to reach out for help. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked if economics play a role in domestic violence. MS. ANDREEN verified economics do play a role for victims, but that does not mean victims at the low end of the economic scale are more prone to be involved in an abusive relationship. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR clarified he was referring to economic cycles within the family unit. MS. ANDREEN stated she was not aware of any specific research along those lines, but indicated domestic violence can be impacted by outside stressors. Economic changes, whether significant increases or decreases, can be a contributor to a change in the level of violence. The same can be said for substance abuse and alcoholism. Number 548 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR stated that many studies conclude the single causative factor of many divorces is lack of money, or financial problems due to job loss. He noted the increase in domestic violence cases appears to be directly related to job loss in Wrangell and Sitka. He expressed concern that the bill does not address family counseling. MS. OTTO commented at every juncture, whether it be part of the probation condition, parole condition, or in the domestic violence restraining order context, rehabilitation is included. At the bottom of page 22, there is a provision to order the respondent, at the respondent's expense, to participate in a program for the rehabilitation of perpetrators for domestic violence that meets standards set by the Department of Corrections. SENATOR GREEN asked if the court ever pays for offender rehabilitation. MS. OTTO indicated the system pays for people in custody. The bill contains a provision that allows treatment providers to garnish the offender's permanent fund dividend to recapture the cost of treatment. MS. OTTO disagreed that economics is a direct underlying cause of domestic violence. She believed the issue to be one of power and control in the relationship, which tends to escalate from verbal abuse. By the time physical violence occurs, the dynamic of control has already been developed in the relationship. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR stated there seems to be a relationship between economic stress and the way in which people act out. MS. OTTO clarified she does not disagree that stress causes problems, but believes the root of a domestic violence relationship is a power and control dynamic. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR commented that all victims that get a protective order do not get divorced. He expressed concern that this method will not work well for couples that reconcile, and that by providing more punitive measures, the bill does not provide any incentive for couples to break the cycle of domestic violence. He believed that if 30 percent of people involved in domestic violence disputes go through the cycle more than once, it would be beneficial to mandate training for the perpetrator. MS. ANDREEN responded the bill does address rehabilitation for the perpetrator. Most victims commonly say they return to the relationship because the system has not adequately worked for them. This bill will not make the problem go away, but will make the criminal justice system more responsive to the immediate needs of victims. The system will ensure that immediate response will occur, and sends the message that this behavior is a crime, not merely a family problem. CHRIS CHRISTENSEN, general counsel to the judicial branch, stated the Supreme Court takes no position on this issue and feels the issues in the bill are matters of public policy best left to the legislature. The court system has attached a fiscal note which reflects minor additional costs for implementation. He thanked the sponsor for the many hours he spent working with the court system to ensure the effect of the bill will not result in an understaffed judiciary spinning its wheels. MR. CHRISTENSEN discussed mediation. There are several existing statutes which authorize a judge to order mediation in different kinds of cases, including divorce and child custody cases. Civil Rule 100 provides in part that a court may order mediation in response to a motion by a party, or on its own motion, when it determines that mediation may result in an equitable settlement. When making this determination the court may consider whether there is a history of domestic violence between the parties, which could be expected to affect the fairness of the mediation process, or the physical safety of the domestic violence victim. The Supreme Court believes that Civil Rule 100, in its current form, strikes a good balance between public policy, as expressed by the legislature, which favors alternative dispute resolution, and the need to protect victims of domestic violence. The Court does not agree with one of the changes to mediation that has been made to Civil Rule 100 in HB 314, specifically the conditions under which mediation may be ordered by a court on pages 34-36 (Sections 41, 44, and 47). Language on page 34, line 22, prevents a mediator who receives a court referral from engaging in mediation if domestic violence has occurred unless three conditions are met. One of the conditions is if the victim initiates the request for mediation. As written, the court would be unable to suggest to the parties that they consider mediation. He proposed language be added to line 26 that reads "mediation is requested, or proposed by the court and agreed to, by the victim of the alleged domestic violence." CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked Mr. Christensen to submit the draft amendment to committee staff. LAUREE HUGONIN, representing the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA), testified in support of HB 314 as it is a comprehensive approach toward eradicating domestic violence in Alaska. ANDVSA particularly supports the protective order registry, the expansion of the protective orders, training required of professionals who interact with victims, victim notification by the parole board and Department of Corrections, and of the anti-surreptitious taping language in the bill. ANDVSA opposes court ordered mediation in cases involving domestic violence as it is an inappropriate method for settling disputes when domestic violence has occurred. Unfortunately, separation does not end violence: almost 75 percent of domestic violence recently reported to the U.S. Dept. of Justice was inflicted after the separation. Mediation is based on several assumptions, the first being that the parties involved will have equal power in their ability to bargain and reach agreements equitable to both sides. It also assumes that a mediator will offer impartial assistance to both parties. Both of these assumptions are problematic when working with people involved in domestic violence situations. If a mediator is unaware of the many issues involved in domestic violence situations, he/she cannot assure a fair and equitable outcome. If the mediator does not understand the pattern of power, control and dominance used by the abusive person, not only will the outcome of the mediation be compromised, but the victim can be placed in further danger. Mediation is also dangerous to mediators themselves. California was the first state to order mediation, but because some abusers carried guns to the hearings, guards are often required to accompany people to the mediation process. Violence distorts the balance of power in the relationship. Abusers are able to exert control by signals only the victim will notice. The American Bar Association recommends that mediation not be used in domestic violence cases, and The National Council of Family and Juvenile Court Judges opposed mediation in 1990, but has included ways to work with mediation in the Model Code, possibly to accommodate those states that use it. The Academy of Family Mediators, the Family Mediation Association of Canada, and The Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution have also come together in a 1993 report and agreed there should be a rebuttable presumption in cases involving domestic violence for mediation, and that presumption should stay in place until research is done that repudiates the data showing this is a dangerous situation to place victims of domestic violence in. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked Ms. Hugonin the number of couples involved in domestic violence who reconcile. MS. HUGONIN was unaware of the number. She believed parts of the protections in the bill will give people the opportunity to make the break easier because there are requirements for direct intervention. Part of the problem is that, as a society and justice system, we have not done a quick and thorough job of putting sanctions in place to reinforce the premise that this activity is criminal. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked Ms. Hugonin how long she has been in this business. MS. HUGONIN answered 11 years. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR noted the people who work in the trenches are anguished over the fact that the victims have so much difficulty breaking out of the cycle. MS. HUGONIN felt it is important to recognize that the question always focusses on why the victim remains in an abusive relationship, rather than why the abuser continues to abuse. She believed it would be more useful to question what we are doing as a society to stop abusive behavior. Many victims do leave abusive relationships but that does not solve the problem. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR stated that is why he is concerned that there are only one or two sentences in a 50 page bill that talk about addressing the perpetrator's problem, rather than 50 pages addressing the perpetrator's problem. MS. HUGONIN noted the bill does address the perpetrator's problem, not in a treatment modality, but with criminal consequences. The bill provides for mandatory arrest, more provisions of the protective orders, and sends the message to the abuser that this behavior is considered criminal. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked Ms. Hugonin if she thought the mandatory arrest provision will have a chilling effect upon the filing of petitions. MS. HUGONIN stated she was not aware whether that has happened in states that have mandatory arrest. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR stated there is a pattern in enforcement where the victim refuses to sign a complaint against her abuser if it would result in an arrest. MS. HUGONIN stated under HB 314, the police officer would determine whether or not a crime has occurred. MS. HUGONIN emphasized she feels strongly about the removal of the mediation provision, as she honestly believes it is dangerous. People who abuse are not able to successfully mediate as they do not have cooperative attitudes. She did not support the Court System's amendment. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR repeated the Court System's amendment would still require the consent of the victim. MS. HUGONIN stated her concern is that people take a judge's recommendation very seriously therefore feel they should comply. It also puts a victim in a position to have to declare, in front of her abuser, that she will not agree to mediation. That could prove dangerous. MS. OTTO commented in response to an earlier question about the potentially chilling effect of mandatory arrest: mandatory arrest is only triggered when a police officer is responding to a crime that occurred within the last 12 hours. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR noted there was a lengthy period of time in our recent history where unless the victim was willing to sign a complaint, nothing happened. MS. OTTO agreed that if a police officer responded to a call, and the victim did not want to file a complaint, the police did not do so. Police officers also tried to mediate at the scene. The Model Code recommends mandatory arrest because it sends the message that violent behavior is no longer a family problem, it is illegal. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR thanked all of the people who worked on this legislation. He announced the committee would take action on the bill at the next hearing.