Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5586

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO VARIOUS STATUTES CONCERNING THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.

Vote Date:

4/2/2014

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/24/2014

File No.:

596

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The Division of Criminal Justice brought this bill to the Judiciary Committee as part of their legislative package. This bill will; (1) Revise procedure regarding property seized by the state when believed to have been used for criminal activity; (2) Clarify and extend statute regarding voyeurism; (3) Allow probation officers to set bail when serving arrest warrants for violation of probation; (4) Expand harassment statute to entail all forms of communication; (5) Revise procedure regarding the use of evidence from the results of blood alcohol levels taken after two hours; (6) Increase the penalty for fraudulent use of an automated teller machine; (7) Increase the monetary thresholds that determine the various degrees of “issuing a bad check”; and (8) Make technical and conforming changes.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

The substitute language eradicates all proposals that relate to voyeurism.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

The Office of Chief Public Defender (OCPD): Michael Alevy, Senior Assistant Public Defender, testified on behalf of OCPD. The OCPD supports sections 14 and 15 of the bill. Section 14 increases the penalty imposed for the use of a fraudulent teller machine by classifying such offence to a class A misdemeanor. Section 15 “increases the monetary thresholds used to determine the degree of penalty associated with the differing degrees of violation.” The OCPD opposes changes to section 3 of the bill which expands the statute on voyeurism. The OCPD “is concerned that, as drafted, the current proposed language is overboard and would criminalize conduct in a manner not intended by proponents.” The OCPD says it is unclear as to how a person in a public place in plain view can have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The OCPD also opposes section 4, and says the proposed legislation would increase a probation period for someone convicted from five years, to ten to thirty-five years. This expansion is unwarranted. The OCPD believes there is a defined line between crimes of violent sexual assault and child pornography, than those where there may be no contact in the case of voyeurism. The OCPD requests to remove the ten year minimum limit of probation that courts impose. The OCPD also opposes section 5 which would require a person so convicted to register on CT's Sex Offender Registry. The OCPD opposes to categorize offenses of non-contact crimes on a CT's sex offender list. They note OPM's report in 2012, which says it is difficult to distinguish which offenders are potential risks to the community because the list consists of “a wide range of criminal behaviors that may or may not include violence or contact with other persons.”

State of Connecticut, Division of Criminal Justice: The DOCJ supports the bills intent. Section 1 revises the current procedures utilized in drug asset forfeiture. The DOCJ notes that the deadlines and ad hoc scheduling related to the in rem procedure have made it difficult to utilize. The revisions to this section will allow more time to process filing and schedule provisions. Section 2 of the bill makes a “largely technical, but significant change.” The DOCJ notes that “the inclusion of the wording 'for pecuniary gain' appears to have been inadvertent, and the result of an oversight in the drafting of Section 54-36p.” Sections 3 through 5 of this bill will strengthen the laws. It does not prohibit merely watching, it expands the current statute on voyeurism by covering such conduct as intentionally observing private conduct while trespassing. Sub. Language deleted this section. The DOCJ also notes that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found that “up-skirting” was not prohibited by Connecticut State Law. Sections 3-5 also add strong penalties for repeat offenders where the victim is under age sixteen. This bill still requires prosecution within five years of the discovery that the incident had occurred. Section 6 of this bill will allow probation officers to set bail on Violation of Probation warrants. Due to a narrow interpretation of the current statute, probation officers are not being allowed to either put a bond on a warrant, or allow release on a promise to appear in instances where the judge who signed the Violation of Probation warrant leaves the bond/release issue to law enforcement. Section 8 of the bill replaces the current statute that limits harassment by a telephone call, with a wide array of communication. It also states that prosecution can be initiated based upon where the communication originated, or where it was received. The new language reflects the ongoing development of technology. Section 8 of the bill will replace existing statute on the time limit for blood alcohol tests. Old statute that states a blood alcohol test must be administered within two hours of the arrest would be changed to extend the two hour limitation. This bill would allow tests conducted beyond the two hour limit when an expert's testimony is provided to establish the reliability of the test. The DOCJ asks for the deletion of Section 7 because the language is “unclear and logically imprecise.” In Section 14, the DOCJ concurs with the Connecticut Sentencing Commission that a Class A Misdemeanor provides a more accurate penalty for the conduct involved. In Section 15, the DOCJ also concurs with recommendations brought forth by the Connecticut Sentencing Commission. Currently, a person can commit Larceny in the Fourth Degree by the dollar amount, which is a Class A Misdemeanor, but if the same person commits the same crime by check it is a class D felony. The DOCJ agrees to raise the thresholds and corresponding classifications.

Chief State's Attorney: Kevin Kane supports HB 5586 and all the amendments to many different sections of the general statutes.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM): Mike Muszynski, Senior Legislative Associate at CCM, testified in support. This bill will modify the procedure for forfeiture of seized items due to the violation of criminal offense. It also ensures that the law enforcement agency responsible for the investigation receives a portion of those funds to advance future law enforcement activities.

Connecticut Sentencing Commission (CSC): Attorney Robert Farr testified in support of Sections 14 and 15 of this bill. The current statutes are inconsistent in the treatment of simple larceny. This bill will adjust the monetary levels for bad checks to match those for Larceny and all fraudulent use of ATM machine penalties, resulting in a Class A Misdemeanor.

Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS): Jillian Gilchrest, Director of Public Policy & Communication, testified in support of Section 3 of HB 5586. The current statute only accounts for photographs, films, videotapes or the image of another person. CONNSACS supports the expansion of the definition of “voyeurism to include simple trespass done to arouse or satisfy the sexual desire of such person, and photographs, films, videotapes or otherwise records of genitals, pubic area or buttocks of another person or the undergarments or stockings used to clothes the genitals, buttocks or pubic area.” CONNSACS also supports the increasing penalties and “adjustments to the statute of limitations to five years from the date of offense, or five years from the date the subject of the offense discovers the existence of the photograph, film, videotape or other recording.”

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None submitted.

Reported by: Nicholas P. Marocchini

Date: April 22, 2014