Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2001-02-19 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2001-02-19                     House Journal                      Page 0367
HB 134                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 134 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                       
the Governor, entitled:                                                                             
     "An Act relating to the rights of crime victims, the crime of                                  
     violating a protective injunction, mitigating factors in sentencing                            
     for an offense, and the return of certain seized property to victims;                          
     clarifying that a violation of certain protective orders is contempt                           
     of the authority of the court; expanding the scope of the                                      
     prohibition of compromise based on civil remedy of misdemeanor                                 
     crimes involving domestic violence; providing for protective relief                            
     for victims of stalking that is not domestic violence and for the                              
     crime of violating an order for that relief; providing for continuing                          
     education regarding domestic violence for certain persons                                      
     appointed by the court; making certain conforming amendments;                                  
     amending Rules 65.1 and 100(a), Alaska Rules of Civil                                          
     Procedure; amending Rules 10, 11, 13, 16, and 17, Alaska District                              
     Court Rules of Civil Procedure; and amending Rule 9, Alaska                                    
     Rules of Administration."                                                                      
was read the first time and referred to the Judiciary and Finance                                   
The following fiscal note(s) apply:                                                                 
1.  Indeterminate, Dept. of Administration                                                          
2.  Indeterminate, Dept. of Corrections                                                             
3.  Zero, Dept. of Law                                                                              

2001-02-19                     House Journal                      Page 0368
The Governor's transmittal letter dated February 16, 2001, appears                                  
"Dear Speaker Porter:                                                                               
The Victims' Rights Amendment to the Alaska Constitution was                                        
approved by 87 percent of Alaska voters and has been in effect since                                
December 30, 1994.  Since then, we have continued to learn more                                     
about the difficulties crime victims face and how we may be able to                                 
assist them through changes within the legal system.  This bill I am                                
transmitting today proposes several measures to further protect victims                             
and help them deal with the problems they encounter.  Each proposal                                 
is described in further detail below.                                                               
     · Allowing a mitigated presumptive sentence for speedy no                                      
         contest or guilty pleas;                                                                   
     · Simplifying procedures for victims to recover stolen property;                               
     · Establishing a crime for violating protective injunctions in                                 
         child in need of aid cases;                                                                
     · Extending current disallowance of civil compromise in some                                   
         domestic violence cases to all domestic violence cases;                                   
     · Simplifying the process for stalking victims to get protection                               
     · Establishing that a protective order violation could cause at                                
         least a contempt of court charge and fine;                                                 
     · Requiring officials working with custody disputes be trained                                 
         in domestic violence law.                                                                  
Mitigated Presumptive Sentences.  The bill allows the court to                                    
mitigate a presumptive sentence when the defendant pleads no contest                                
or guilty within 30 days after being charged.  The reasoning is that                                
early admission on the part of the defendant relieves the victim of                                 
some of the suffering involved in long, drawn out court procedures.                                 
This concept has already been recognized by the courts as a non-                                    
statutory mitigating factor.  State v. McKinney, 946 P.2d 456 (Alaska                             
Recovering Stolen Property.  The bill establishes a simplified                                    
procedure for theft victims to recover property that is in the possession                           
of a law enforcement agency after having been recovered from a                                      

2001-02-19                     House Journal                      Page 0369
pawnshop or secondhand dealer.  The current process is based on                                     
federal procedure and requires the victim to initiate formal legal                                  
proceedings to recover property.  Under this less formal procedure, the                             
victim could file a petition in state court supported by affidavit of                               
ownership.  The pawnshop or secondhand dealer can file a response                                   
supported by affidavit.  Ownership may then be decided based on the                                 
information in the affidavits.                                                                      
Protective Injunction Violations.  Alaska law authorizes the court to                             
issue a protective injunction in child in need of aid (CINA)                                        
proceedings that orders perpetrators to stay away from a child.  These                              
are similar to protective orders in domestic violence cases.  Unlike                                
domestic violence protective orders, however, it is not a separate crime                            
to violate a protective injunction for a child in a CINA proceeding.                                
The bill corrects this unjust inconsistency by making it a class A                                  
misdemeanor for a perpetrator to violate the CINA injunction.                                       
Civil Compromise in Domestic Violence Cases.  Alaska allows a                                     
person charged with a misdemeanor that harms a person or property to                                
enter into a civil compromise by agreeing to pay the victim for                                     
personal costs, such as medical expenses or property damage.  If the                                
victim appears in court and acknowledges in writing that the defendant                              
has paid the damages, the court may dismiss the charges, even if the                                
prosecution objects to the dismissal.  There are several exceptions in                              
the statute allowing for civil compromise.  One of the exceptions                                   
disallows compromise of cases between spouses and former spouses,                                   
or persons living together in a family or spousal relationship.  The                                
exception does not, however, include all domestic violence crimes.                                  
For example, it does not include domestic violence by a person who                                  
lived with another person if the court determines that the relationship                             
was not a spousal relationship.  This bill extends the disallowance of                              
civil compromise to all cases involving domestic violence as defined                                
in the Domestic Violence Prevention and Victim Protection Act of                                    
1996.  Civil compromise is not appropriate in domestic violence cases.                              
This bill ensures that it will not occur.                                                           
Protection From Stalking.  Stalking is a crime that may be                                        
unconnected to domestic violence yet also warrants protection for the                               
victim.  These stalking victims are often children and their families.                              
The current procedure for obtaining protection in these types of                                    

2001-02-19                     House Journal                      Page 0370
stalking cases requires a filing fee and, usually, an attorney to handle                            
the complicated paperwork.  Victims may not have the resources for                                  
this effort and therefore go unprotected.  This bill establishes a                                  
procedure similar to that for a domestic violence protective order, a                               
simple process with no filing fee or need for sophisticated knowledge                               
of the legal system.  The clerk of court would provide forms for                                    
requesting protection and assistance in completing them.  Violation of                              
certain provisions of a stalking protective order of this type would be a                           
class A misdemeanor.                                                                                
Protective Order Violations.  Currently, not all violations of a                                  
protective order result in consequences to the offender.  Typically, the                            
more dangerous violations carry a criminal charge; others may have no                               
direct consequence.  This bill establishes that a person who violates                               
any provision of a protective order may, at a minimum be held in                                    
contempt of court.                                                                                  
Domestic Violence Training.  It's important that anyone officially                                
involved in custody disputes, such as guardians ad litem, child custody                             
investigators, and mediators, be trained in domestic violence laws.                                 
These persons need to understand statutory provisions that prohibit                                 
mediation in domestic violence cases and that require consideration of                              
evidence of domestic violence in custody determinations.                                            
Victim protection is a priority of all Alaskans.  I urge your prompt and                            
favorable consideration of this bill.                                                               
                                Tony Knowles