Bills combat gang and school violence, identity theft,
DUI, and protect victims' rights
July 13, 2005
Since taking office, the Murkowski administration has hired 34 additional state troopers, toughened the state's bootlegging and DUI laws, closed legal loopholes that have allowed criminals to avoid prosecution and made other enhancements intended to keep Alaska communities safe.
"Our shared commitment to a safe and secure Alaska is evident in the bills that the Legislature approved this session," Murkowski said. "These bills will make our justice system more responsive to those affected by crime, make criminals more accountable for their actions and ensure that the voices of the victims are heard."
House Bill 88, sponsored by the governor, would make consequences more serious for people who assault school officials and raise the stakes for drug dealers and some juveniles who commit drive-by shootings or use firearms in the commission of drug crimes.
Under HB 88, a juvenile between the ages of 16 and 17 who is charged with first degree misconduct with a weapon during the commission of a crime involving drugs or a drive by shooting will automatically be waived to adult court.
HB 88 helps protect children from illegal drugs by allowing more severe criminal penalties to be imposed on people convicted of possessing or distributing illegal drugs at schools or youth centers regardless of whether they are public or private. The legislation also increases penalties for dealers selling drugs within 500 feet of a shelter or home for troubled or homeless teens
"In addition, committing a violent act on school grounds or at a school-sponsored event becomes an aggravating factor in sentencing."
Senate Bill 154, sponsored by Sen. Gene Therriault, closes a loophole in state statute that can allow juveniles to theoretically avoid prosecution if either their role in the crime was not discovered until they became 18 or older or if charges were not filed before the offender turned 18. This loophole was illustrated by a recent case in Kenai where the Superior Court dismissed a delinquency petition against a 19-year-old accused of committing a sexual assault when he was 17. The bill also reduces state expenses by allowing some juvenile proceedings to be held telephonically.
House Bill 131, sponsored by Rep. Bill Stoltze, increases the penalties for certain types of identity theft involving credit cards, ATM cards and I.D. cards. The bill, which is supported by the AARP, raises the penalty from a class A misdemeanor to a class C felony. In addition, it now becomes a class C felony to steal more than $50 by such means instead of the previous threshold of at least $500. Class C felonies can be punishable by sentences up to 2-5 years in prison.
House Bill 54, sponsored by Reps. Ralph Samuels and Bill Stoltze, improves the courts' treatment of victims in certain criminal proceedings by requiring 48-hour notice to district attorneys before subsequent bail hearings and allowing them to be introduced to a jury at trial or jury selection. The bill also gives victims the right to file a petition for review in an appellate court if a convicted defendant receives a sentence below the sentencing range.
Senate Bill 135, sponsored by Sen. Fred Dyson, gives prosecutors more power in bringing felony child endangerment charges against a caregiver and makes it easier to prosecute some parental kidnapping cases.
House Bill 136, sponsored by Rep. Norman Rokeberg, would require judges to impose a mandatory fine for DUI offenses. But it provides judges the ability to suspend up to 75 percent of the mandatory fine for DUI offenders who complete a rigorous 18-month therapeutic treatment program.
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