CSAO: Judiciary Committee - March 6, 2017 - H.B. No. 7216

TESTIMONY OF THE DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE

IN OPPOSITION TO:

H.B. No. 7216 (RAISED) AN ACT CONCERNING FAMILY IMPACT STATEMENTS IN THE CASES OF DEFENDANTS WITH DEPENDENT CHILDREN.

JOINT COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
March 6, 2017

The Division of Criminal Justice opposes H.B. No. 7216, An Act Concerning Family Impact Statements in the Cases of Defendants with Dependent Children, and respectfully recommends the Committee take NO ACTION on this bill.

This is essentially the same legislation that was last heard in the Judiciary Committee during the 2014 Regular Session. As the Division stated in its testimony opposing the 2014 bill (S.B. No. 361), the legislation was not necessary then. Nor is it necessary today.

The stated purpose of the bill is "to permit criminal defendants who have physical custody of a minor child to provide the court with a family impact statement prior to sentencing for a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment may be imposed."

Again, to reiterate our previously stated position, defendants in criminal cases are already permitted and routinely do provide a whole host of information and opinions on a wide range of subjects, including everything referenced in H.B. No. 7216. Additionally, the proposed family impact statement could address "programs available to rehabilitate the defendant if the defendant is not sentenced to a term of imprisonment." Such a discussion is already a part of the sentencing proceeding and may be addressed in a presentencing investigation (PSI) report.

One might argue that a family impact statement is no different from the statement allowed to be presented to the court by the victim of a crime. There is a marked difference. The reason we have victim impact statements is because victims are not a party to the case. The defendant as a party already can submit any information they wish as part of the sentencing proceeding. Criminal defense attorneys freely exercise this existing process. There is no need for the General Assembly to establish in statute what is longstanding and unchallenged practice in our courts. The bill is simply not needed and, as such, the Division would respectfully recommend the Committee take NO ACTION on H.B. No. 7216.

In conclusion, the Division of Criminal Justice wishes to express its appreciation to the Committee for this opportunity to provide input on this matter. We would be happy to provide any additional information the Committee might require or to answer any questions you might have. Thank you.



Content Last Modified on 3/3/2017 3:40:00 PM