Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-1105

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING MINOR REVISIONS TO THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE STATUTES.

Vote Date:

4/6/2015

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

3/20/2015

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill comes to the Committee from the Division of Criminal Justice. This bill addresses several outstanding issues and concerns affecting the criminal justice system and the effective and efficient operations of the system.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Division of Criminal Justice: Supports this bill. Section 1 of this bill clarifies that when a court imposes a sentence that includes a period of incarceration and a period of probation the probation does not begin until the individual has completed his or her incarceration.

Section 2 of the bill makes a professional bondsman, surety bail bond agent or insurer responsible for paying the costs of returning to Connecticut a person for whom they post bond who absconds and becomes a fugitive. These costs are now borne by the taxpayer.

Section 3 is essentially a technical change to the statutes reflecting an apparent oversight in the drafting of the Home Invasion statute. Home invasion is simply a more serious form of the crime of Burglary, and since Burglary is already a predicate offense (among others) for Felony Murder, Home Invasion should be as well.

Section 4 of the bill allows for a more serious and appropriate penalty for the crime of Assault in the Second Degree when the victim suffers serious physical injury.

Section 5 – 7 of the bill clarifies when the registration begins for those sexual offenders required to register with the Sex Offender Registry for ten years.

Section 8 of the bill is intended to provide for a more appropriate means of disposition in certain cases of Simple Trespass as defined in statute.

Section 9 – through 11 of the bill clarifies the statutes dealing with Tampering with a Witness, Intimidating a Witness and Tampering with Physical Evidence to address the anomaly resulting from the decision of our Supreme Court in State v. Jordan. In that case, the court ruled in evidence that the defendant tampered with the evidence to escape detection and avoid being arrested was insufficient to establish the crime of Tampering with Evidence. The bill clarifies that the statutes noted would be violated when the defendant attempts to influence investigations as well as official proceedings.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Bail Association of Connecticut, Andrew Bloom, President: Supports this bill. Section 2 amending 54-65c of the general statutes provides for bail bond companies to pay for extradition of defendant who are held in other states. I believe this would work well if the State does not attempt to enrich itself with the extradition costs. We must remember that these charges will ultimately be paid by the consumers or indemnitors who sign for their loved ones. This cannot turn out to be a mechanism for the state to make money on their backs.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Assoc., Elisa L. Villa, President: Opposes Sections 9,10 and 11 of this bill. These three sections amend the statutes that provide for the prosecution of a person for Tampering with a Witness and Tampering with or Fabricating Evidence. Currently, the statutes prohibit certain conduct once an official proceeding has begun. These changes would prohibit behavior before any law enforcement agency starts an official proceeding and even before a law enforcement agency begins an investigation. There are several problems with this proposal.

First, there is no definition contained within this bill that defines “investigation” or what it means for when an investigation “is about to be instituted” and nothing that determines the burden of proof with regard to a person's “belief” that an investigation “is pending or is about to be instituted.”

Second, this bill will create scenarios in which parents, friends or associates of witnesses arguably would engage in “tampering” behavior simply by discussing whether or not the witness should provide a statement to the police or otherwise cooperate with an ongoing investigation.

Third, the final concern with this proposal involves the potential for constitutional violations. To criminalize conduct that a law enforcement agency deems intrusive with regard to one of its investigations is to cast an extraordinarily wide net and runs afoul of our First Amendment free speech protections.

Reported by: George Marinelli

Date: 4-22-15