Legislature(2001 - 2002)

05/02/2001 05:17 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                                                                                                                                
         HB 210-STAT. OF LIMITATIONS:SEXUAL ASSAULT/ABUSE                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KEVIN MEYER,  bill  sponsor, testified  that HB  210                                                            
removes  the  statute  of  limitations   on felony   sexual  assault                                                            
involving penetration.  Currently, only sexual abuse  of a minor and                                                            
murder  have  no statute  of  limitations  and  HB 210  adds  sexual                                                            
assault  to the  list  of extreme  crimes.  New technology  and  DNA                                                            
testing make it possible  to use evidence many years after the crime                                                            
has been committed  and state law should protect the  victim's right                                                            
to justice.  The amendment  made on the House  floor includes  civil                                                            
penalties as well.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
The legislation  will become  effective on  the date it becomes  law                                                            
and as long  as the 10 year limitation  has not expired by  the time                                                            
HB 210 becomes law, the  crime has no limitations for when it can be                                                            
prosecuted.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR read from  page 1, line 9 through page 2, line 6 and                                                            
asked whether there was  already a 10 year statute of limitations in                                                            
effect.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER said  there was. He then added that the wording                                                            
was  confusing  to  him  but  the  drafter  was  present  to  answer                                                            
questions. The intent of  the bill centers on page 1, line 13, which                                                            
states  that  prosecution  of class  A,  or class  B  felony  sexual                                                            
assault or  violation of AS 11.41.425(a)(2)  or (3) may commence  at                                                            
any time.  Although  there are  other felony  sexual assaults,  they                                                            
deal with contact while this deals with penetration.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
He announced he  would have no objection if the committee  wanted to                                                            
drop the  amendment that  was added on the  House floor which  drops                                                            
the statute  of limitations for civil  penalties. Because  his focus                                                            
was on criminal penalties,  he wasn't committed one way or the other                                                            
to  the statute  of  limitations  being extended  to  include  civil                                                            
penalties as well.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
He thought the drafter  might better explain the bill arrangement if                                                            
there were questions.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COWDERY asked whether  Representative Meyer had an amendment                                                            
ready.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER responded that section 1 could  be deleted and                                                            
the sections renumbered.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
The reasoning  behind the amendment  was that if it was possible  to                                                            
prove that a suspect  was criminally liable for a  20 year old crime                                                            
then why  shouldn't the  victim be  able to bring  civil charges  as                                                            
well.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 2100                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked the drafter to explain the  confusion over 10                                                            
years.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. GERALD LUCKHAUPT, an attorney with Legislative Legal &                                                                      
Research Services, Legislative Affairs Agency explained that                                                                    
Section 2(a)  says there is no criminal  statute of limitations  for                                                            
the listed  offences. Subsection (b)  maintains the current  10 year                                                            
statute of limitations for class C felony sexual assault that                                                                   
involves contact and sexual abuse of a minor.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked why page 2, line 3 was included.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR LUCKHAUPT replied that unless there is another applicable                                                                    
statute that specifies a different statute of limitations or if                                                                 
it is a crime listed in (a) then these are the statutes of                                                                      
limitations that generally apply in Alaska.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  said, then "it's  part of the exception.  Except as                                                            
otherwise provided by law or except as in section (a)."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR LUCKHAUPT agreed.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked how this affects outstanding cases. For                                                                   
instance, if a case was 12 to 15 years old before the police got                                                                
proof, current state law would not allow prosecution. Would                                                                     
passage of HB 210 allow prosecution of that case?                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. LUCKHAUPT responded that if the statute of limitations on an                                                                
outstanding offense has not yet run, the statute of limitations                                                                 
could be extended.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked about a situation  in which no indictment  or                                                            
complaint was brought. Wouldn't it be a waste of time to go                                                                     
forward if there is a statute of limitations that would prevent                                                                 
this? "Does the look back caused by this legislation go beyond                                                                  
the previous 10 years?" For instance, consider that a crime was                                                                 
committed 15  to 20 years ago and  the investigation occurred  10 or                                                            
more years after the crime was committed and there was a 10 year                                                                
statute of limitations in effect. Would the passage of this                                                                     
legislation allow the prosecutor to prosecute the perpetrator?                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. LUCKHAUPT replied that once the statute of limitations on an                                                                
offense has  run, that offense may  not be resurrected for  criminal                                                            
prosecution.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said he understood that this legislation would                                                                  
only affect offenses that have occurred ten years prior to the                                                                  
effective date of the act.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  LUCKHAUPT  said  that  is basically  correct  but  there  is  a                                                            
provision that  deals with an offense  committed against  a minor or                                                            
an individual  who was not  aware that the  offense had occurred  so                                                            
there  could  be instances  in  which  the look  back  would  extend                                                            
farther that ten years.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR thanked  Mr. Luckhaupt for the explanation and asked                                                            
whether there were additional witnesses who wanted to testify.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. BLAIR McCUNE,  Deputy Director,  Alaska Public Defender  Agency,                                                            
testified  that the  primary concern  addressed by  the bill  is the                                                            
physical evidence  left from a sexual  assault in which there  is no                                                            
suspect that  can be DNA tested. If  the DNA patterns are  kept in a                                                            
data  bank,  a suspect  may  be  identified  for  a crime  that  was                                                            
committed more that ten years ago.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Side B                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Although he  can't argue against DNA  patterning being used  on that                                                            
category  of case, he is  concerned about  sexual assaults  in which                                                            
there is  some kind of recovered  memory issue  and there is  no DNA                                                            
evidence. A prosecution  that is undertaken 10 or 15 years after the                                                            
fact would  put the defense  at a decided  disadvantage. The  reason                                                            
for statutes  of limitation  is to provide  some protection  against                                                            
older  cases in which  there is  an alibi  but it  can no longer  be                                                            
established.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
With  this in mind,  he would  like  to explore  the possibility  of                                                            
restricting the  extended look back to DNA cases or  those involving                                                            
scientific evidence.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT remarked  that the occurrence  of a resurrected                                                             
memory  case is  remote and  both the  defense and  the prosecution                                                             
could be at  a disadvantage in terms  of corroborating witnesses  or                                                            
alibis.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. McCUNE agreed  that the occurrence of such cases  is remote but,                                                            
in  such instances,  he  felt  the defense  would  be  at a  greater                                                            
disadvantage than the prosecution by the passage of time.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2281                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS TRISHA GENTLE,  Executive Director, Council on  Domestic Violence                                                            
& Sexual Assault,  testified in support of the bill.  It's important                                                            
to recognize that  this allows victims the time to  heal emotionally                                                            
and physically before coming forward to prosecute.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
She  also  spoke  in  favor  of  the  amendment   to  include  civil                                                            
penalties.  Although she  thought there  would be  few instances  in                                                            
which  a victim  chose that  avenue but  it would  provide a  victim                                                            
another opportunity to feel whole once again.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  called for questions and there were  none. He asked                                                            
for the pleasure of the committee.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COWDERY   moved  CSHB  210(JUD)  forward  with   individual                                                            
recommendations.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
There being no objection,  CSHB (210) and attached fiscal note moved                                                            
from committee with individual recommendations.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                

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