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Governor Signs 5 Crime Bills into Law;
Will Strengthen Rights of Victims


April 22, 2004

Juneau, AK - Governor Frank Murkowski signed into law Wednesday a package of five House bills that will fix deficiencies in the state's criminal procedure laws, and pay special attention to crime victims.

"I appreciate the strong bipartisan support shown in the Legislature in enacting these laws, which will give prosecutors new tools to make sure criminals are held accountable for their crimes, and ease the burden on the innocent victims of crimes," Murkowski said. "I am proud that I can add my signature to these important bills and congratulate the sponsors and the support groups that have persevered to see them through to enactment."

The bills the Governor signed are:

HB 349, by Rep. Samuels, relating to testimony by criminal defendants. The bill amends court rule 412 to allow a statement obtained contrary to the Miranda warning to be used to accuse or charge the person who made the statement. It also allows some evidence obtained illegally to be admissible in a prosecution to impeach the witness if it does not substantially violate the rights of the witness.

HB 398, by Rep. Dahlstrom, allowing for a domestic violence fatality review team. The bill allows the Department of Public Safety or a municipality to establish such a review team to examine the events leading up to a death or serious physical injury in a domestic violence incident. The review team would be charged with finding ways to prevent domestic violence related fatalities, improve the response of law enforcement agencies, and consult and coordinate with the efforts of other agencies.

HB 357, by Rep. Samuels, relating to restitution payments. This bill changes the statutes regarding restitution payments, which currently are permissible for the judge, by making the payments mandatory if credible evidence is presented to the court and unless the victim declines the restitution.

HB 397, by Rep. McGuire, requiring written permission for taking recorded statements from victims of sexual offenses. Currently, a defendant's attorney is required to first obtain written authorization to take a written statement from a victim or witness, but not to obtain a recorded statement. This bill corrects that, and also requires parental consent prior to a minor speaking with a defense attorney.

HB 348, by Rep. Stoltze, requires police and prosecutors to notify victims of felonies and other serious crimes about the Office of Victims Rights upon first contact. The objective of the bill is to help the Office of Victims Rights become more effective in helping crime victims.

The Governor signed the bills at a meeting of the Violent Crimes Compensation Board.



Source of News Release:

Office of the Governor
Web Site


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