Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/03/1993 01:30 PM House FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HOUSE BILL 43                                                                
       "An Act relating to the crime of conspiracy."                           
  REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER  testified in support of  HB 43.                 
  The proposed legislation creates a new crime of "conspiracy"                 
  in State law.  An offender commits the crime if:                             
       *    With intent to commit a "serious felon offense";                   
       *    The offender agrees with one or more to commit the                 
       *    The offender or one of the others perform an overt                 
            act in furtherance of the conspiracy.                              
  He stated that the adoption of the bill would provide Alaska                 
  law enforcement  officers and  prosecutors  with a  valuable                 
  tool which is  available to  law enforcement authorities  in                 
  the federal system and in most  other states.  If sufficient                 
  evidence of a conspiracy  is obtained, charges may  be filed                 
  and arrests made before the conspirators actually commit the                 
  underlying planned serious felon offense.                                    
  Representative Porter  added, in  addition  to allowing  the                 
  apprehension of offenders at an earlier stage of the planned                 
  crime,  the adoption  of a conspiracy  law would  permit the                 
  introduction of additional evidence  in a trial.  Thus,  the                 
  jury would be permitted to  hear, for example, more evidence                 
  about the overall drug operation,  rather than being limited                 
  to evidence  about specific  drug sales  on specific  dates.                 
  The  jury therefore would  not view the  sales in isolation,                 
  but would see the "big picture".                                             
  In   cases  where  the   underlying  offense   was  actually                 
  committed,  defendants  charged  both  with  conspiracy  and                 
  another  crime may  be  more likely  to  cooperate with  the                 
  prosecution in  an effort to  obtain a reduced  charge; this                 
  may reduce the  number of trials.   Another potential  cost-                 
  savings is that multiple defendants  charged with conspiracy                 
  will be able  to be tried  jointly, rather than in  separate                 
  trials as is generally required.                                             
  (Tape Change, HFC 93 -36, Side 2).                                           
  Representative Porter  pointed  out  the  Letter  of  Intent                 
  provided by the  House Judiciary Committee.   He thought the                 
  fiscal  notes  by  the  Department  of  Administration  were                 
  Co-Chair MacLean asked for an explanation of an "overt act".                 
  Representative   Porter   stated   there   are   definitions                 
  throughout other states  although Alaska has not  defined it                 
  to date.  He provided the Committee with examples of "overt"                 
  Co-Chair MacLean questioned if a conspiracy was taking place                 
  over the  telephone, at  which location  would the crime  be                 
  charged and  a  hearing determined.   Representative  Porter                 
  deferred the question to the Department of Law.  He added it                 
  would  not be  a federal offense  unless it was  made over a                 
  state  line.   Co-Chair  MacLean  disagreed with  the fiscal                 
  impact of the bill.                                                          
  Representative Hoffman  stressed the expense of the proposed                 
  fiscal  notes when currently,  rural Alaska  is experiencing                 
  insufficient representation due to  limited public defenders                 
  and judges.   Representative Porter  acknowledged that there                 
  are problems existing  in the  rural areas and  reemphasized                 
  his concern  with the  proposed  fiscal impact.   The  court                 
  system in Alaska has not had experience in criminal trials.                  
  Representative Brown questioned how the proposed legislation                 
  would  differ from  other laws  specifically A.S.  11.31.10,                 
  11.16.10,  11.31.100.    Representative Porter  stated  that                 
  there are solicitation  and attempt crimes currently  on the                 
  books  and explained the difference between solicitation and                 
  conspiracy.    Conspiracy fills  a  small and  important gap                 
  particularly in drug crimes.                                                 
  Representative Brown asked  if a  person has a  conversation                 
  with  someone  else regarding a  crime to be committed,  but                 
  does not commit the  crime, could they be charged  with that                 
  crime.   Representative Porter  replied, they  could, if  an                 
  overt act was  the result of the conspiracy.  Representative                 
  Brown  asked the  involvement  of a  person  unaware of  the                 
  criminal nature of the crime.   Representative Porter stated                 
  that  a  crime of  conspiracy  does  not occur  with  just a                 
  conversation, there  must be at  least one overt  act before                 
  the offense occurs.  Discussion  followed regarding at which                 
  point a person would become guilty of an "overt" act.                        
  ANCHORAGE,  ALASKA,  testified   via  teleconference.     He                 
  clarified  that  the  Office  of  Public Advocacy  does  not                 
  believe that the passage of the laws which recriminalize the                 
  use and  possession of marijuana would lead  to an onslaught                 
  of criminal cases.  He pointed out that the fiscal note does                 
  not reflect an increase in case levels.                                      
  The  reasons for  increased  costs to  the Office  of Public                 
  Advocacy are three fold:                                                     
       *    These are serious  felony cases.  Many  hours will                 
            be involved in preparation for trial.                              
       *    There  will  be  multiple co-defendants.    OPA is                 
            responsible for representing  people with whom the                 
            public defender agency has a conflict of interest.                 
                 *    Joint trialsaccrue greater trialcosts by                 
  Mr. McGhee pointed out that there are federal conspiracy and                 
  federal drug laws  in existence, both  of which are used  in                 
  Alaska.   He  questioned why  the  State is  volunteering to                 
  undertake the responsibility of these costs.                                 
  Representative Grussendorf interjected that he did not think                 
  the zero fiscal notes submitted by the Department of Law and                 
  the Department of Public Safety were reasonable.                             
  Co-Chair  MacLean asked the  difference between a conspiracy                 
  and being an accomplice.                                                     
  DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF LAW, explained the different ways to                 
  commit offenses  under criminal  law.   The conspiracy  bill                 
  addresses conduct which  does not  go as far  as aiding  and                 
  assisting crime.   The bill addresses the  agreement between                 
  two people to commit a crime.  Current Alaska law does cover                 
  some of these  events, although, he  pointed out that  there                 
  are situations which  can not be addressed  without proposed                 
  Mr. Guaneli defined an  "overt" act as something to  be done                 
  in furtherance of a  conspiracy.  He pointed out  that there                 
  is a definition included in the  Senate version of the bill:                 
  "'Overt act' furthers  conspiracy, an act of  such character                 
  that it manifests the purpose on  the part of the actor that                 
  the object of the conspiracy be completed."                                  
  (Tape Change, HFC 93-37, Side 2).                                            
  Representative Grussendorf  reiterated his concern  with the                 
  zero fiscal note  provided by  the Department of  Law.   Mr.                 
  Guaneli stated it would be possible to tie some of the cases                 
  together so that one  conspiracy case can go to  joint trial                 
  under the  rules of evidence.   He added  that this type  of                 
  legislation allows the  jury to consider more  evidence from                 
  the  background of the  criminal organization  which becomes                 
  directly relevant to the conspiracy charge.  This allows the                 
  prosecution to put together a stronger case against criminal                 
  HB  43  was  placed in  a  subcommittee  with Representative                 
  Hanley as Chair and with  members Representative Hoffman and                 
  Representative Parnell.  The bill  was HELD in Committee for                 
  further discussion.  k#hb69                                                  
  HOUSE BILL 69                                                                
       "An  Act relating  to registration  of and  information                 
       about  sex  offenders  and  amending  Alaska  Rules  of                 
       Criminal Procedure 11(c) and 32(b)."                                    
  BARNES,  testified  in  support  of  HB  69.   The  proposed                 
  legislation would  require all  persons who  are present  in                 
  Alaska and have  been convicted of  sex crimes in Alaska  or                 
  any other state to register  with the Alaska State Troopers.                 
  For a period of  years, they must provide the  Troopers with                 
  updated  information including their places of residence and                 
  He  added  that  by  improving  the  access  to  information                 
  regarding sex  offenders that reside  in Alaska, HB  69 will                 
  better enable  employers, volunteer coordinators  and others                 
  to effectively screen  those who may work around children or                 
  in any other position where people  may be vulnerable.  This                 
  is important because not only do  sex offenders tend to have                 
  multiple  victims,  but  they also  frequently  repeat their                 
  crimes even after serving time in prison.  By being required                 
  to register, sex  offenders may not  only be less likely  to                 
  commit such crimes  again, but if  they do, law  enforcement                 
  personnel  will have a better chance  of identifying them as                 
  well as a better idea of where to find them.                                 
  Representative  Martin questioned  the amount  spent  by the                 
  State  to rehabilitation sex  offenders.   He felt  that the                 
  proposed legislation would be  discriminatory to individuals                 
  once convicted of a sex offense.  Mr. Wooliver noted that it                 
  is questionable if rehabilitation can  be effective for this                 
  type  of  crime.   Representative  Parnell  pointed  out the                 
  registration period would  last between ten and  twenty-five                 
  SAFETY (DPS), explained  that the  fiscal note submitted  by                 
  DPS was based upon the need  of  one person assimilating the                 
  data information required  and making computer entries.   It                 
  also includes advertising costs.                                             
  Representative Brown questioned the DNA type blood analysis.                 
  Mr. Swackhammer  stated that  DNA testing  is comparable  to                 
  finger   printing.      The   cost   and   technology   make                 
  implementation of this program prohibitive.   Representative                 
  Brown pointed out her concerns with the DNA analysis and the                 
  confidentiality of  that information.   She  asked that  any                 
  redrafting  of  the  legislation  include  scrutiny  of  DNA                 
  analysis  and   confidentiality  of  records.     Discussion                 
  followed    regarding     insurance    complications     and                 
  discrimination.    Representative Brown  concluded  with two                 
       *    It is unreasonable to assume  that DPS could code,                 
            test,  document   and  do  applications   for  the                 
            requested fiscal note of $4 thousand dollars;                      
       *    Fiscal note did  not include persons in  the rural                 
            areas.  She felt that this was unequal application                 
            of the law.                                                        
  Mr. Swackhammer reminded  Committee members that twenty-five                 
  percent of  the Alaska  jail population  are sex  offenders.                 
  This  is  one  of the  highest  rates in  the  nation.   One                 
  offender can  affect as many  as twenty-five or  more lives.                 
  He added that the  public deserves the right  to protection.                 
  He emphasized that reasonable efforts must be made to try to                 
  provide that protection.                                                     
  Co-Chair  Larson  placed  HB  69   in  a  subcommittee  with                 
  Representative   Therriault  as   Chair  and   with  members                 
  Representative Brown and  Representative Martin.  HB  69 was                 
  HELD in Committee for further discussion.                                    

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