Legislature(1997 - 1998)
05/07/1998 09:09 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL 245 "An Act relating to assault in the fourth degree; relating to the definition of 'crime involving domestic violence' in AS 11; relating to unlawful contact with a victim or witness; relating to rehabilitation programs for perpetrators of domestic violence; amending Rule 5(b), Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure and Rule 404(b), Alaska Rules of Evidence; and providing for an effective date." REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON, SPONSOR, explained that the bill would accomplish four things related to domestic violence. First, it would prohibit domestic violence perpetrators from using their one allowed phone call to call the victim or witnesses in order to intimidate them between the time of arrest and arraignment. He pointed out that the problem had been a significant one. Representative Dyson continued that second, the bill would provide for progressively stiffer presumptive sentences for repeat offenders. Third, it would set standards for the batterers and anger management programs that judges often assigned for perpetrators. Fourth, it would allow (under carefully controlled circumstances) that prior related acts were admissible. The prosecution could ask the judge to admit prior acts (out of the presence of the jury) if there had been a pattern of abuse by the perpetrator that the prosecution wanted to bring forward. Jayne Andreen, Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, testified in support of HB 245. The council believed the four things defined by Representative Dyson were important to strengthen the protection of victims of domestic violence. The first issue (preventing the perpetrator from having phone contact with the victim) had been brought to the council's attention by a police officer who believed there was a problem. She noted that often two officers would be called to a scene. When the officers determined there was probable cause and made an arrest, one officer would take the alleged offender back to be booked and to make a phone call. Sometimes the other officer was at the scene taking the statement of the victim and collecting evidence. In current statute, within 12 hours after an arrest, the alleged offender must be arraigned; at that point the court would decide whether or not there should be contact with the victim. The council believed the 12 hours was important to protect the victim from further intimidation or coercion. Ms. Andreen continued that the item related to minimum prison terms for offenders would apply to fourth-degree assault. The council believed the item was important in terms of giving offenders the information that the crime was serious and had further consequences if it was repeated. The part of the bill addressing the court's ability to approve programs such as anger-management would strengthen language already in statute so that the courts would only used approved programs. LAURIE HUGENIN, DIRECTOR, ALASKA NETWORK ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT, voiced support for the bill and noted written testimony submitted. Senator Donley pointed to page 4, lines 2 through 4, related to prohibiting the defendant from indirect contact with the witness. He asked about the constitutional right to contact witnesses to find out what they would say. ANNE CARPENETI, CRIMINAL DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF LAW, replied that the provision on page 4, lines 4 through 7, gave authority to the judge in sentencing a defendant. After the defendant was convicted, the court would be allowed, although not mandated, under certain circumstances [interruption by tape ending]. [SFC-98, Tape 160, Side B] Senator Parnell MOVED to REPORT SCS CSHB 245(HES) out of committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. There being no objection, it was so ordered. SCS CSHB 245(HES) was REPORTED out of committee with a "do pass" recommendation and two indeterminate fiscal notes by the Department of Administration and the Department of Corrections and two zero notes by the Department of Administration and the Department of Public Safety. RECESSED 10:10 AM.