CSAO: Judiciary Committee - March 15, 2017 - S.B. No. 1003

TESTIMONY OF THE DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE

IN SUPPORT OF:

S.B. No. 1003 (RAISED) AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO VARIOUS STATUTES CONCERNING THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. .

JOINT COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
March 15, 2017

The Division of Criminal Justice respectfully recommends and requests the Committee’s JOINT FAVORABLE Report for S.B. No. 1003, An Act Concerning Revisions to Various Statutes Concerning the Criminal Justice System. This bill was submitted to the Committee as part of the Division of Criminal Justice Legislative Recommendations to the 2017 Regular Session of the General Assembly, our legislative package.

S.B. No. 1003 contains many of the same provisions submitted in the 2016 session as S.B. No. 363, which was favorably reported by the Judiciary Committee but failed to pass in the closing days of the session. Like last year’s bill, S.B. No. 1003 makes changes to several statutes concerning the criminal justice system and is best-explained section-by-section:

SECTION 1 again proposes a change that was favorably reported by the Joint Committee on Planning and Development in the 2015 Regular Session. This makes a relatively minor but important change to further promote utilization of the Nuisance Abatement and Quality of Life Act codified in General Statutes Section 19a-343 et. seq. The Nuisance Abatement act authorizes state prosecutors to bring civil nuisance actions against persons and property that are involved in certain types of illegal activity. Unlike ordinary criminal prosecutions, nuisance abatement actions focus on cleaning up properties that are magnets for illegal activity, in addition to punishing wrongdoers. Public nuisance actions are filed in the Superior Court for the Judicial District where the property is located. The prosecutor will seek court orders or negotiate a stipulated agreement for whatever relief is necessary to stop the criminal activity underlying the nuisance. Many remedies may be possible, ranging from screening prospective tenants for a property to closing the premises altogether.

In order to bring a Nuisance Abatement action, the act requires a minimum of three arrests or the issuance of three arrest warrants indicating a pattern of criminal activity on the property during a one-year period before the action is brought. Not every criminal arrest or arrest warrant makes a property eligible for nuisance abatement. The law specifies ten areas in which arrests must be made to precipitate a nuisance abatement action: (1) Drug trafficking (2) Illegal gambling (3) Prostitution (4) Obscenity involving minors (5) Illegal liquor sales (6) Motor vehicle "chop shops" (7) Inciting injury to persons or property (8) Murder (9) Sexual assault, and (1) Felonious assault.

With regard to illegal liquor sales, Section 19a-343(c )(5) makes arrests for violations of Section 30-74 (unauthorized sale of alcoholic liquor) and 30-77 (disposing of liquor without permit) eligible offenses for purposes of a nuisance abatement action. Over the years, however, it has become obvious that violations of Section 30-86(b)(1) (underage sale by permittee) and 30-86(b)(2) (underage alcohol delivery/sale-no permit) should be added to the list of eligible alcohol offenses.

Prosecutors have proceeded in the past with cases where the underage sale was charged as a violation of Section 30-74 or Section 30-77, but there have been quite a few occasions where the seller was charged with the violation under Section 30-86, and not Section 30-74, and we have been unable to use the unlawful sale to a minor for nuisance abatement purposes. Section 1 of S.B. No. 1003 would correct this situation and help make nuisance abatement a more effective tool against property locations and businesses that become a magnet for problems by allowing minors to purchase alcohol. It is a simple, yet important, change.

SECTION 2 of S.B. No. 1003 is strictly a technical change resulting from advancements in technology. The Division offers this proposal following discussions with the leadership of the Division of Scientific Services and Forensic Science Laboratory in the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP). All this section does is to allow for electronic signature of reports prepared by the laboratory concerning testing in drug or drunken driving cases. Again, the change simply reflects advances in technology and the growing utilization of electronic signatures; hand signatures would still be allowed as well.

SECTION 3 of S.B. No. 1003 is the same language that appears as Section 2 of H.B. No. 7215, An Act Concerning Courthouse Security, Indemnification of Law Enforcement Professionals and Aggravated Assault of a Public Transit Employee, which was the subject of a public hearing before the Judiciary Committee on March 6, 2017. This proposal makes minor technical changes to wording and includes Inspectors in the Division of Criminal Justice among those who are eligible for indemnification. This, too, is largely a technical change since the Inspectors are sworn officers who have many of the same duties and responsibilities of other state and local law enforcement officers and are already included in many other statutory references with their colleagues in other agencies on the various levels of government.

SECTION 4 of S.B. No. 1003 expands from ten years to 20 years the period of time during which an order providing restitution to a victim of a crime can be enforced. This would simply provide that criminal restitution orders are good for the same amount of time as currently allowed for a judgment in a civil suit, which is 20 years and not the ten years now set for a criminal order. This is only a matter of fairness to the innocent victims of crime who are deserving of restitution for their losses. It is also consistent with the Second Chance Society initiatives, one focus of which is restitution versus other types of sanctions.

SECTION 5 of S.B. No. 1003 extends the criminal lockout statutes to include commercial properties. Section 53a-214 currently only pertains to persons who are denied residence to their dwelling unit or personal possessions, thereby making the section inapplicable to commercial units. Police have historically failed to recognize that the removal of a commercial tenant without eviction is also against the laws of summary process; assuming no applicable criminal penalty on a commercial lockout. While other charges can be brought for the same acts, including larceny and trespass, it would be better enforced and more appropriate to simply expand the definition of the present lockout statute to specifically include commercial properties.

SECTION 6 strengthens the larceny statutes with regard to crimes committed against a victim who has been deemed an incapable person by the probate court. Existing law deems it Larceny in the Second Degree, a Class C felony, when the victim is over 60 years of age, or physically disabled as defined in section 1-1f of the General Statutes. Section 6 would extend the same provision to include a conserved person, or one who has been declared incapable by the probate court. This would include individuals with developmental disabilities or dementia or a variety of other conditions and who are among the most vulnerable in our society.

SECTIONS 7 AND 8 of S.B. No. 1003 provide additional privacy protections to the victims of sexual assault. These sections add victims of sexual assault in a spousal or cohabitating relationship (Section 53a-70b) to those victims of sexual crimes who are granted confidentiality of their identifying information under Sections 54-86d or 54-86e. This builds upon Public Act 15-213, An Act Concerning Invasions of Privacy, which extended the same confidentiality protections to victims of voyeurism. The addition of sexual assault in a spousal or cohabiting relationship is entirely consistent not only with the 2015 public act, but with the previous provisions governing other sexual assault crimes.

SECTION 9 deals with the Eyewitness Identification Task Force originally established in 2011 to study and recommend best practices for the processes employed by law enforcement officers for the eyewitness identification of suspects in criminal investigations. The task force, chaired by the late Supreme Court Justice David M. Borden, served as a model of collaboration and cooperation by a variety of interested parties and was responsible for drafting our existing eyewitness identification statutes. Section 9 of S.B. No. 1003 builds upon the success of the original task force by continuing it in statute and expanding its membership and charge to examine emerging technologies that can benefit law enforcement and serve the interests of justice. It should be noted that while the task force may accept gifts, grants or donations to support its work, there is no intention of any fiscal impact that cannot be absorbed within existing resources.

Section 10 would repeal a duplicative reporting requirement imposed on the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney. The bill would repeal section 51-273e of the General Statutes, which dictates that the Division of Criminal Justice through the MFCU file the same information previously required under Section 17b-99b. The Division again is proposing repeal of the duplicative requirement, as the matter continues to be raised by the Auditors of Public Accounts. There is no change in what is reported only that it would only be required to be reported once.

In conclusion, the Division respectfully recommends the Committee’s JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT for H.B. No. 1003. We thank the Committee for affording this opportunity to provide input on this matter and would be happy to provide any additional information the Committee might require or to answer any questions that you might have.



Content Last Modified on 3/15/2017 9:18:28 AM