OLR Bill Analysis

SB 1105

AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE STATUTES.

SUMMARY:

This bill makes a number of changes to criminal laws. Among other things, it:

1. requires a person's probation term to begin after he or she serves any prison sentence;

2. requires a court to vacate a bond forfeiture order and release a professional bondsman or surety bail bond agent and insurer under certain circumstances when one of them pays the costs to extradite the subject of the bond from another jurisdiction;

3. expands the crime of felony murder;

4. increases the penalty for 2nd degree assault, from a class D felony to a class C felony, when serious physical injury results;

5. specifies that the 10-year registration period required for certain sex offenders begins when the offender is released into the community;

6. expands the infraction of simple trespass; and

7. expands the crimes of tampering with or intimidating a witness and tampering with evidence to cover activities while an investigation, in addition to an official proceeding, is pending or anticipated.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

1 — SERVING PROBATION TERMS

When a person is sentenced to a period of probation or conditional discharge to be served after a prison sentence, the law requires the probation or conditional discharge period to begin when the person is released from prison. Under case law, the court can only delay the start of a probation or conditional discharge term when a person is in prison under a sentence for the same crime, and it cannot delay the probation or conditional discharge period if the person is in prison due to a sentence on a different conviction (State v. Moore, 85 Conn.App. 7 (2004)).

The bill requires any probation or conditional discharge term to begin when the defendant is released from prison, regardless of when the prison sentence is imposed.

2 — BONDS AND EXTRADITION

By law, the court must vacate a bond forfeiture order and release a professional bondsman or surety bail bond agent and insurer who posted a bond for the accused when the (1) bondsman, agent, or insurer provides proof that the accused is held in another state, territory, or country, or by a federal agency, or is removed by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement and (2) prosecutor does not seek to extradite the accused.

If the prosecutor seeks extradition under the circumstances described above, the bill vacates a bond forfeiture order and releases the bondsman or agent and insurer if the bondsman, agent, or insurer proves to the court that one of them paid the Division of Criminal Justice's expected extradition costs.

3 — FELONY MURDER

The bill expands the crime of felony murder to include when a person commits or attempts to commit home invasion and, during or in furtherance of the crime, or while fleeing the crime, the person or any other participant in the crime causes the death of someone not participating in the crime.

By law, felony murder includes causing a death as described above related to the crime of robbery, burglary, kidnapping, 1st or 3rd degree sexual assault, 1st degree aggravated sexual assault, 3rd degree sexual assault with a firearm, or 1st and 2nd degree escape.

By law, felony murder is punishable by 25 to 60 years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.

4 — 2ND DEGREE ASSAULT

The bill increases the penalty, from a class D felony to a class C felony, when a 2nd degree assault results in serious physical injury. By law, a class D felony is punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. A class C felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. By law, a “serious physical injury” is one that creates a substantial risk of death or causes serious disfigurement, impairment of health, or loss or impairment of an organ's function (CGS 53a-3(4)).

By law, a person commits 2nd degree assault when he or she does any of the following to someone:

1. intentionally causes serious physical injury;

2. intentionally causes physical injury by using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument other than a firearm;

3. recklessly causes serious physical injury by using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument;

4. for a purpose other than lawful medical or therapeutic treatment, intentionally causes stupor, unconsciousness, or other physical impairment or injury by administering, without the victim's consent, a drug, substance, or preparation capable of producing the same;

5. while on parole, intentionally causes physical injury to a Board of Pardons and Paroles employee or member; or

6. without provocation, strikes a person in the head intentionally causing serious physical injury and rendering him or her unconscious.

5-7 — SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION PERIOD

The bill specifies that the 10-year registration period required for certain sex offenders begins when the offender is released into the community. By law, offenders convicted of 4th degree sexual assault, voyeurism, or crimes designated as sexual offenses against a minor must register for 10 years. The court may require an offender convicted of a felony committed for a sexual purpose to register for 10 years.

By law, a person convicted of a violent crime or a subsequent conviction of 4th degree sexual assault, voyeurism, or a sexual offense against a minor must register for life.

8 — TRESPASS

By law, a person commits simple trespass by entering any premises he or she is not licensed or privileged to enter, without intent to harm the property. The bill expands this infraction to include when a person remains in or on the premises.

9-11 — TAMPERING WITH OR INTIMIDATING A WITNESS AND TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE

The bill expands the scope of these crimes to cover conduct that occurs when a person believes an investigation is pending or about to begin. By law, each of these crimes covers conduct when a person believes an official proceeding is pending or about to begin. The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the evidence tampering crime did not cover situations where a person believes that only an investigation but not an official proceeding is likely (State v. Jordan, 314 Conn. 354 (2014)).

The bill also makes other changes to these crimes.

Tampering With a Witness

By law, a person tampers with a witness when he or she:

1. believes an official proceeding is pending or about to begin and

2. induces or attempts to induce a witness to testify falsely, withhold testimony, elude legal process summoning the witness, or absent himself or herself from an official proceeding.

The bill expands this crime in a number of ways. It applies to tampering when an investigation is pending or about to begin, in addition to when an official proceeding is pending or about to begin. It also expands the types of tampering involved to include inducing the witness to inform falsely; withhold information, a document, or a thing; and elude legal process requiring the witness to produce evidence.

By law, this crime is a class C felony.

Intimidating a Witness

By law, a person intimidates a witness when he or she:

1. believes an official proceeding is pending or about to begin;

2. uses, attempts to use, or threatens to use physical force against the witness or another person; and

3. intends to influence, delay, or prevent the witness' testimony or induce the witness to testify falsely, withhold testimony, elude legal process summoning the witness, or absent himself or herself from an official proceeding

The bill expands this crime in a number of ways. It applies to intimidation when an investigation is pending or about to begin, in addition to when an official proceeding is pending or about to begin.

It also expands the types of intimidation involved to include conduct to influence, delay, or prevent the witness' cooperation in the investigation and inducing the witness to inform falsely; withhold information, a document, or a thing; and elude legal process requiring the witness to produce evidence.

By law, this crime is a class C felony.

Tampering With or Fabricating Evidence

By law, a person tampers with or fabricates evidence when he or she:

1. believes an official proceeding is pending or about to begin and

2. (a) alters, destroys, conceals, or removes a record, document, or thing in order to impair its verity or availability in a proceeding or (b) makes, presents, or uses a record, document, or thing knowing it is false in order to mislead a public servant who is or may be engaged in the official proceeding.

The bill expands this crime to cover actions when an investigation is pending or about to begin.

By law, this crime is a class D felony.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

43

Nay

0

(04/06/2015)