Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/17/1993 01:00 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 86: SANCTIONS FOR PROPERTY-RELATED OFFENSES TAPE 93-36, SIDE A Number 032 CHAIRMAN PORTER called the meeting back to order. He stated that HB 86 was now before the committee. Number 042 SANDY PEVAN testified in support of HB 86. She mentioned that there was a problem in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley regarding homeless youths and runaways who committed crimes. She indicated that HB 86 would help to alleviate that problem. Number 075 REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE, PRIME SPONSOR of HB 86, stated that the intent behind the bill was to deter juvenile mischief, which would result from forfeiture of vehicles used in the commission of a crime, and the publishing of an offender's name, photograph, and crime. Additionally, offenders could be required to pay restitution. He was open to suggestions on other types of deterrents. Number 129 REPRESENTATIVE NORDLUND asked Representative Bunde to comment on the current law regarding adults who used a vehicle in the commission of a crime. Number 135 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE replied that for certain drug offenses, an offender's vehicle could be confiscated. With regard to other types of offenses, he said that HB 86 would be a stricter law than that currently applied to adults. He noted that it was not his intent to restrict juveniles more than adults. He commented that his bill focused on forfeiture of a vehicle because criminal mischief was often committed with a vehicle, and also because a vehicle was often a minor's only possession of any value. Number 182 MS. KNUTH noted that section 2 of HB 86, regarding forfeiture of vehicles, was not limited to minors. She said that section 2 would apply to vehicles used by a person in aid of criminal mischief in the first degree or criminal mischief in the second degree. She commented that criminal mischief in the first degree occurred very rarely in Alaska. She commented that the types of crimes which Representative Bunde had described would be considered criminal mischief in the third and fourth degrees. MS. KNUTH said that the DOL had two concerns with vehicle forfeiture. She noted that there was no provision in HB 86 regarding vehicles owned by innocent parties. She said that there was no quick fix for this particular problem. Additionally, she said that the DOL was concerned about the definition of a vehicle used in aid of criminal mischief offenses. She noted that there needed to be a nexus between a vehicle and damage done during a criminal mischief offense. She commented that using a vehicle to get to the scene of the crime was not a sufficient nexus, whereas using a vehicle as a battering ram was. MS. KNUTH cited the DOL's concern with section 3 of HB 86, regarding restitution. She said that the section pertained to restitution ordered of adult offenders. She said the bill proposed that juveniles waived to adult status be required to pay restitution for any criminal mischief offense. She noted that Alaska already had a requirement that adults pay restitution for criminal mischief in the third degree. She said the DOL was concerned that HB 86 would set up an anomalous situation in which juveniles waived to the adult system would be required to pay restitution for all criminal mischief offenses, while adult offenders would only have to pay restitution for criminal mischief in the third degree. MS. KNUTH commented that the court would question why the legislature wanted to treat juveniles more harshly than adults. She suggested that HB 86 be amended so as to require only under-18 offenders who had been waived to adult court to pay restitution upon conviction of criminal mischief in the third degree. Alternatively, she said that the legislature could amend the adult restitution statutes so that they would be in line with what was being proposed in HB 86. MS. KNUTH recommended that the legislature follow her first suggestion, as following the second suggestion would require that the court make a finding that an offender was able to pay restitution of more than $500 and up to $100,000. She said that it was easy to require restitution of up to $500, because anyone could go out and work for a month and come up with that amount of money. However, she said, when people were required to pay restitution of $100,000, the state would run afoul of constitutional prohibitions against "imprisonment for debt." MS. KNUTH commented that she had not examined the public records' provision of HB 86, as the Criminal Division of the DOL was not involved in juvenile delinquency proceedings. She had alerted the Civil Division about HB 86, and because of their absence, she assumed that they had no problem with HB 86. Number 354 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if there was any difference in the use of a vehicle to commit a felony and a misdemeanor. He used an example of a person driving a getaway car in a felony. Number 365 MS. KNUTH replied that if a person drove another person to a place where the second person committed criminal mischief, then the driver would be criminally liable. She said that the state currently had laws regarding the forfeiture of vehicles used in committing certain drug offenses. That law, she said, applied to juveniles and adults. She commented that the state had problems regarding innocent car owners, when applying that forfeiture law. She noted that the federal government now handled most of the state's forfeiture proceedings, as the federal laws more thoroughly addressed the issue of innocent parties. MS. KNUTH added that the governor had introduced a bill which addressed the problem of innocent owners more effectively. Number 398 CHAIRMAN PORTER believed that releasing information regarding juveniles who committed two levels of criminal mischief offenses and not releasing information about juveniles who committed much more serious crimes was rather inconsistent. Number 416 MS. KNUTH commented that laws were often made in response to very narrow, perceived problems. Number 446 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked Ms. Knuth how many actual offenses HB 86 would impact. Number 455 MS. KNUTH replied that if HB 86 was enacted as currently written, applying to criminal mischief in the first and second degrees, its provisions would never be used. If the bill was amended to reflect the level of criminal mischief that she believed the sponsor intended to address, she guessed that fewer than 20 cases a year would be impacted. Number 481 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES asked Ms. Knuth to comment on the use of a vehicle as a dangerous weapon. Number 491 MS. KNUTH responded that cars were treated as dangerous weapons in certain crimes, including drunk driving. Number 498 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked Ms. Knuth if she had said that, even if HB 86 were amended, it would only impact 20 or fewer cases per year. MS. KNUTH stated that was her best estimate. She said the original intent behind HB 86 was that taking away a juvenile's car would serve as a deterrent. She was of the opinion that courts should order restitution from juveniles when they caused damage. A juvenile's car could then be subject to seizure and normal civil attachment procedures. Number 520 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN inquired about the impact of adding three-wheelers, snow machines, and other types of vehicles in HB 86. Number 522 MS. KNUTH did not know the answer to Representative Green's question. Number 532 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE agreed with Ms. Knuth regarding taking criminal mischief in the first degree out of HB 86. However, he argued strongly for leaving criminal mischief in the second degree in the bill, because it would address joyriding and causing damage in excess of $500. He wanted to encourage awareness among juveniles that they needed to be responsible for their actions. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE believed that if the names and photographs of juveniles who committed criminal mischief were to be published, that would serve as a deterrent. Number 570 CHAIRMAN PORTER had some concerns regarding HB 86. Due to the late hour, however, he said he would hold the bill in committee and reschedule it for another hearing, at a time uncertain. ADJOURNMENT CHAIRMAN PORTER adjourned the meeting at 3:04 p.m.