PA 08-51—sSB 671

Judiciary Committee

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING PERSISTENT DANGEROUS FELONY OFFENDERS AND PROVIDING ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

SUMMARY: By law, someone may be prosecuted as a persistent dangerous felony offender if he or she stands convicted of certain serious crimes and has prior convictions of certain serious crimes. This act sets minimum penalties for persistent dangerous felony offenders and, in some instances, increases the maximum penalties for these offenders. It does so in the following way.

1. For those with one of the required prior convictions, it changes the penalty from up to 40 years in prison to a range between twice the minimum penalty for the crime the person stands convicted of, including twice any mandatory minimum sentence that applies, to a maximum of 40 years or twice the maximum penalty for the crime the person stands convicted of, whichever is longer. (This is often referred to as “two strikes. ”)

2. For those with two of the required prior convictions, it changes the penalty from up to life in prison (statutorily defined as up to 60 years) to a range between three times the minimum penalty for the crime the person stands convicted of, including three times any mandatory minimum sentence that applies, and life in prison (60 years). (This is often referred to as “three strikes. ”)

The act requires the prosecutor, when a person is arrested for one of the crimes that could make him or her eligible for prosecution as a persistent dangerous felony offender, to investigate whether the person meets the criteria to be sentenced as a persistent dangerous felony offender by having two of the required prior convictions. If the prosecutor determines the person would be eligible and the person has been presented to a geographical area courthouse, the prosecutor must have the person transferred to a judicial district courthouse.

The act prohibits a court from accepting a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest from someone arrested for one of these crimes unless it finds that the prosecutor investigated the person's eligibility for prosecution and sentencing as a persistent dangerous felony offender.

If the prosecutor finds that a person has the two required prior convictions making him or her eligible for prosecution and sentencing as a persistent dangerous felony offender, the act requires the prosecutor to state on the record specific reasons for terminating or not initiating proceedings to seek an enhanced sentence.

The act also makes a number of appropriations to criminal justice agencies.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage, except for the appropriations which are effective July 1, 2008.

PENALTIES FOR PERSISTENT DANGEROUS FELONY OFFENDERS

By law, there are two separate paths to being classified as a persistent dangerous felony offender (see BACKGROUND). A person must stand convicted of certain serious crimes and have certain serious prior convictions. Under prior law, someone who was a persistent dangerous felony offender with one of the required prior convictions was sentenced to up to 40 years in prison and someone with two of the required prior convictions was sentenced to up to life in prison (statutorily defined as 60 years). Under the act, the penalty for these offenders is tied to the penalty for the crime that the offender stands convicted of but with maximum sentences at least as long as under prior law. Table 1 shows the crimes that a person can stand convicted of under the persistent dangerous felony offender statute and the changes to the penalties the act makes depending on whether the offender has one or two of the specified prior convictions.

The persistent dangerous felony offender statute uses the terms “manslaughter,” “arson,” “kidnapping,” and “assault in the first degree. ” These do not refer to specific criminal statutes but they appear to apply to all of the crimes listed below. For example, “manslaughter” appears to include the crimes of 1st degree manslaughter, 1st degree manslaughter with a firearm, 2nd degree manslaughter, 2nd degree manslaughter with a firearm, and 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle.

Table 1: Penalties under Prior Law and the Act, Based on the Offender's Current Conviction and Criminal Record

Current Conviction

Penalty With One Prior Conviction

Penalty With Two Prior Convictions

Prior Law

Under the Act

Prior Law

Under the Act

Manslaughter 1st degree (CGS 53a-55)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years

Manslaughter 1st degree with a firearm (CGS 53a-55a)

Up to 40 years

10 to 80 years; 10 year mandatory minimum

Up to 60 years

15 to 60 years; 15 year mandatory minimum

Manslaughter 2nd degree (CGS 53a-56)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years

Manslaughter 2nd degree with a firearm (CGS 53a-56a)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years;

2 year mandatory minimum

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years; 3 year mandatory minimum

Manslaughter 2nd degree with motor a vehicle (CGS 53a-56b)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years

Arson 1st degree (CGS 53a-111)

Up to 40 years

20 to 50 years (see BACKGROUND)

Up to 60 years

30 to 60 years

(see BACKGROUND)

Arson 2nd degree (CGS 53a-112)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years

Arson 3rd degree (CGS 53a-113)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years

Kidnapping 1st degree or 1st degree with firearm (CGS 53a-92 and 53a-92a)

Up to 40 years

20 to 50 years; 2 year mandatory minimum (see BACKGROUND)

Up to 60 years

30 to 60 years; 3 year mandatory minimum (see BACKGROUND)

Kidnapping 2nd degree or 2nd degree with a firearm (CGS 53a-94 and 53a-94a)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years; 6 year mandatory minimum

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years; 9 year mandatory minimum

Robbery 1st degree (CGS 53a-134)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years; 10 year mandatory minimum if armed with a deadly weapon

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years; 15 year mandatory minimum if armed with a deadly weapon

Robbery 2nd degree (CGS 53a-135)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years

Assault 1st degree (CGS 53a-59)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years; 10 year mandatory minimum if used a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument to cause serious physical injury or 20 year mandatory minimum if victim under age 10 or a witness

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years;

15 years mandatory minimum if used a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument to cause serious physical injury or

30 year mandatory minimum if victim under age 10 or a witness

Assault of elderly, blind, disabled, pregnant, or mentally retarded person 1st degree (CGS 53a-59a)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years; 10 year mandatory minimum

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years; 15 year mandatory minimum

Assault of corrections employee 1st degree (CGS 53a-59b)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years

Home invasion (PA 08-1, January Special Session, 1)

Up to 40 years

20 to 50 years; 20 year mandatory minimum

Up to 60 years

30 to 60 years; 30 year mandatory minimum

Burglary 1st degree (CGS 53a-101)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years;

10 year mandatory minimum if armed with explosives, deadly weapon, or dangerous instrument

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years;

15 year mandatory minimum if armed with explosives, deadly weapon, or dangerous instrument

Burglary 2nd degree with a firearm (CGS 53a-102a)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years; 2 year mandatory minimum

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years; 3 year mandatory minimum

Sexual assault 1st degree (CGS 53a-70)

Up to 40 years

Depending on the circumstances and age of the victim:

2 to 40 years or 20 to 50 years; mandatory minimum of 4, 10, or 20 years

Up to 60 years

Depending on the circumstances and age of the victim:

3 to 60 years or 30 to 60 years; mandatory minimum of 6, 15, or 30 years

Aggravated sexual assault 1st degree (CGS 53a-70a)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years or 20 to 50 years if victim under 16 years; 10 year mandatory minimum or 40 year mandatory minimum if victim under 16 and force used or threatened

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years or 30 to 60 years if victim under 16 years; 15 year mandatory minimum or 60 year mandatory minimum if victim under 16 and force used or threatened

Sexual assault 3rd degree (CGS 53a-72a)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years

Sexual assault 3rd degree with a firearm (CGS 53a-72b)

Up to 40 years

2 to 40 years; 4 year mandatory minimum

Up to 60 years

3 to 60 years; 6 years mandatory minimum

*Arson murder is not included on this list because it is punishable by life imprisonment without eligibility for parole.

APPROPRIATIONS

The act appropriates the following in FY 09:

1. $681,000 to the Division of Criminal Justice to enhance prosecution of repeat offenders, administrative coordination, and information technology capacity;

2. $512,000 to the Public Defender Services Commission to enhance the legal defense of indigent defendants and handle increased prosecutions;

3. $5,232,000 to the Judicial Branch to enhance court operations and probation supervision of sex offenders, including using global positioning system (GPS) and polygraph technology; increase the capacity to serve outstanding warrants for probation violations; provide truancy prevention; and create a juvenile justice urban cities pilot program;

4. $514,000 to the Department of Public Safety to hire additional staff in the State Police Major Crime Squad;

5. $2,147,000 to the Department of Correction to fund alternative housing, additional correction and parole officers, expanded GPS use in supervising parolees, and additional staff for the Board of Pardons and Paroles to screen parole candidates and process files; and

6. $910,000 to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to enhance coordination and monitoring of community services for individuals served by alternative supervision and intervention support teams, provide supportive housing for individuals in the jail diversion and reentry programs, enhance the women's jail diversion program, and hire an additional clinician to expand the alternative drug intervention program's capacity.

BACKGROUND

Persistent Dangerous Felony Offender Classification

By law, a prosecutor can elect to charge someone as a persistent dangerous felony offender if the person (1) stands convicted of certain crimes and (2) has been, before committing the present crime, convicted of certain crimes and punished with a prison sentence of more than one year or death for them. There are two separate paths to being classified as a persistent dangerous felony offender. Table 2 displays these paths.

The persistent dangerous felony offender statute uses the terms “murder,” “manslaughter,” “arson,” “kidnapping,” and “assault in the first degree. ” These do not refer to specific criminal statutes, but it appears to apply to all of the crimes listed below. For example, “manslaughter” appears to include the crimes of 1st degree manslaughter, 1st degree manslaughter with a firearm, 2nd degree manslaughter, 2nd degree manslaughter with a firearm, and 2nd degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle.

Table 2: Persistent Dangerous Felony Offender Classification

Current Conviction ( 53a-40(a)(1))

Statute

Name

Statute

Name

53a-55

Manslaughter 1st degree

53a-94

Kidnapping 2nd degree

53a-55a

Manslaughter 1st degree with a firearm

53a-94a

Kidnapping 2nd degree with a firearm

53a-56

Manslaughter 2nd degree

53a-134

Robbery 1st degree

53a-56a

Manslaughter 2nd degree with a firearm

53a-135

Robbery 2nd degree

53a-56b

Manslaughter 2nd degree with a motor vehicle

53a-59

Assault 1st degree

53a-54d

Arson murder

53a-59a

Assault 1st degree, victim elderly, blind, disabled, pregnant, or mentally retarded

53a-111

Arson 1st degree

53a-59b

Assault 1st degree, corrections employee

53a-112

Arson 2nd degree

PA 08-1, Jan. Sp. Sess.

Home invasion

53a-113

Arson 3rd degree

53a-101

Burglary 1st degree

53a-92

Kidnapping 1st degree

53a-102a

Burglary 2nd degree with a firearm

53a-92a

Kidnapping 1st degree with a firearm

   

Prior Conviction

(with a prison sentence of more than one year)

Statute

Name

Statute

Name

53a-54a

Murder

53a-70a

Aggravated sexual assault 1st degree

53a-54b

Capital felony

53a-72a

Sexual assault 3rd degree

53a-54c

Felony murder

53a-72b

Sex assault 3rd degree with a firearm

53a-70

Sexual assault 1st degree

   

Any of the crimes listed above on the current conviction list

Attempt to commit any of these crimes

Predecessor crimes

Crimes in other states that are substantially similar

OR

Current Conviction ( 53a-40(a)(2))

Statute

Name

Statute

Name

53a-70

Sexual assault 1st degree

53a-72a

Sexual assault 3rd degree

53a-70a

Aggravated sexual assault 1st degree

53a-72b

Sex assault 3rd degree with a firearm

Prior Conviction

(with a prison sentence of more than one year)

Statute

Name

Statute

Name

53a-54a

Murder

53a-92

Kidnapping 1st degree

53a-54b

Capital felony

53a-92a

Kidnapping 1st degree with a firearm

53a-54c

Felony murder

53a-94

Kidnapping 2nd degree

53a-54d

Arson murder

53a-94a

Kidnapping 2nd degree with a firearm

53a-55

Manslaughter 1st degree

53a-134

Robbery 1st degree

53a-55a

Manslaughter 1st degree with a firearm

53a-135

Robbery 2nd degree

53a-56

Manslaughter 2nd degree

53a-59

Assault 1st degree

53a-56a

Manslaughter 2nd degree with a firearm

53a-59a

Assault 1st degree, victim elderly, blind, disabled, pregnant, or mentally retarded

53a-56b

Manslaughter 2nd degree with a motor vehicle

53a-59b

Assault 1st degree, corrections employee

53a-111

Arson 1st degree

PA 08-1, Jan. Sp. Sess. , 1

Home invasion

53a-112

Arson 2nd degree

53a-101

Burglary 1st degree

53a-113

Arson 3rd degree

53a-102a

Burglary 2nd degree with a firearm

Attempt to commit any of these crimes

Predecessor crimes

Crimes in other states that are substantially similar

Mandatory Minimum Sentences for 1st Degree Kidnapping and 1st Degree Arson

By statute, 1st degree kidnapping is a class A felony and 10 years of a sentence for a class A felony cannot be suspended. In State v. Jenkins, the court ruled that it was unconstitutional to subject a person convicted of 1st degree kidnapping to a higher mandatory minimum sentence than a person convicted of kidnapping with a firearm, which is punishable as a class A felony with only a one year mandatory minimum sentence (198 Conn. 671 (1986)). The court ruled that the one-year mandatory minimum sentence would apply to both crimes.

By statute, 1st degree arson is also a class A felony. In State v. O'Neill, the court held that it is unconstitutional to subject a person convicted of 1st degree arson to a 10-year mandatory minimum while allowing the suspension of a sentence for arson murder, a more serious crime (200 Conn. 268 (1986)).

OLR Tracking: CR: GC: JL: dw