PA 16-168—sSB 213

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE INHERITANCE RIGHTS OF A BENEFICIARY OR SURVIVOR WHO IS FOUND NOT GUILTY OF MURDER OR MANSLAUGHTER BY REASON OF MENTAL DISEASE OR DEFECT

SUMMARY: This act broadens the scope of the existing ban on defendants found guilty of certain crimes from inheriting or receiving part of the victim's estate or receiving life insurance or annuity benefits from the victim. It:

1. extends the ban to defendants found not guilty of the crimes by reason of mental disease or defect and

2. adds two crimes to those covered by the ban: 2nd degree manslaughter and 2nd degree manslaughter with a firearm (see BACKGROUND).

The law's prohibition already applies to the following crimes: murder; murder with special circumstances; felony murder; arson murder; 1st degree manslaughter; 1st degree manslaughter with a firearm; 1st or 2nd degree larceny; and 1st degree abuse of an elderly, blind, or disabled person or person with intellectual disability.

Existing law allows someone convicted of 1st or 2nd degree larceny or 1st degree abuse to petition the court to override the prohibitions. The act extends this provision to defendants found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. As under existing law, the court may grant the request if it would (1) fulfill the deceased victim's intent or (2) avoid a grossly inequitable outcome under the circumstances.

The act also makes technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016

PROHIBITIONS ON RECOVERING FROM VICTIM

The provisions described below apply to the crimes already covered by existing law as well as those added by the act (2nd degree manslaughter and 2nd degree manslaughter with a firearm).

Inheritance or Other Recovery from Estate

As under existing law for those found guilty of a covered crime, the act's prohibition on inheriting or receiving part of the victim's estate applies to defendants found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in (1) Connecticut or (2) another jurisdiction of a crime with substantially similar elements to those listed.

Also, if the individual alleged to have committed the crime has died, the prohibition also applies, upon an action brought by an interested third party, if the court determines the individual would have been found guilty, or not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, had he or she survived criminal prosecution.

Under existing law and the act, these provisions apply whether the person was charged as the principal or accessory to the crime.

The act also applies to the newly covered crimes and defendants the provisions under existing law for property held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship. For example, for real property, the finding of guilty or not guilty by mental disease or defect severs the joint tenancy and converts it into a tenancy in common as between the deceased victim and the defendant, thus preventing full property ownership from passing to the defendant.

Life Insurance or Annuity Benefits

Existing law's prohibition on recovering from a life insurance policy or annuity applies to someone who (1) intentionally caused the death of the person who is the subject of the policy or annuity or (2) was found guilty of 1st or 2nd degree larceny or 1st degree abuse. People convicted of any covered crime are conclusively included within this prohibition, as are people who a court determines, upon an action brought by an interested third party, would have been found guilty had they survived criminal prosecution.

Under the act, an individual is also conclusively included within this prohibition if (1) found not guilty of a covered crime by reason of mental disease or defect or (2) the individual has died and a court determines he or she would have been found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect had he or she survived.

BACKGROUND

2nd Degree Manslaughter and 2nd Degree Manslaughter with a Firearm

By law, a person commits 2nd degree manslaughter when he or she (1) recklessly causes someone else's death or (2) intentionally causes or helps someone, other than by force, duress, or deception, to commit suicide (CGS 53a-56).

A person commits 2nd degree manslaughter with a firearm when he or she commits 2nd degree manslaughter and uses, is armed with and threatens to use, or displays or represents that he or she possesses a firearm when committing the offense (CGS 53a-56a).

OLR Tracking: JO; KLM; VR; MK; bs