Perusing the legislature’s list of bills for the past few days, I’ve stumbled upon quite a few legislative proposals dealing with sex offenders and criminal justice. I’ll update this post with links to each subsequent post. There are a few bills I want to address on their own.
As you can see in the footer, I’ve created a new category “proposed legislation”. I will be posting all future updates on proposed legislation to that category, so that’s an easy reference for those of you interested.
On today’s list of bills was S.B. 1458 (“An Act Concerning Jessica’s Law”). This bill has several new proposals, most important of which is the “tender years exception” [see previous coverage below]. According to the proposed bill,
Sec. 9. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2007) Notwithstanding any other rule of evidence or provision of law, a statement by a child under thirteen years of age relating to a sexual offense committed against that child, or an offense involving physical abuse committed against that child by a person or persons who had authority or apparent authority over the child, shall be admissible in a criminal, juvenile or civil proceeding if (1) the court finds, on the basis of the time, content and circumstances of the statement, there is a probability that the statement is trustworthy, (2) the proponent of the statement makes known to the adverse party an intention to offer the statement and the particulars of the statement at such time as to provide the adverse party with a fair opportunity to prepare to meet it, and (3) either (A) the child testifies at the proceeding, or (B) the child is unavailable as a witness and there is independent nontestimonial admissible evidence of the alleged act. For purposes of this section, “child” includes a person who is chronologically thirteen years of age or older, but who has a mental or developmental age of less than thirteen years because of mental retardation or developmental disability.
This provision applies to a statement of a child under the age of 13, not the testimony itself. The court has to find that the statement is trustworthy (fine), the proponent has to make known the intent to offer the statement (fine) at such a time that the opponent has the time to prepare to meet it (good) and either the child testifies (okay, a reluctant witness) or is unavailable (again, reluctant or otherwise) AND there is independent, non-testimonial admissible evidence of the alleged act. Uh. I’m not sure what that would be…but I’ll wait till the public hearing to form an opinion.
The other provisions of this bill create the offense of “aggravated sexual assault of a minor”, where the victim is under 13. It would carry a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years. The other provisions create mandatory minimums of 2-10 years for a variety of sex offenses, including repeat offenders.
A bill proposed today, HB 7408, adds the phrase “and any person who services and repairs personal computers” to the list of mandatory reporters under C.G.S 17a-101. Now, firedog and Geek Squad and others will have to report to the police if they find any illegal material on computers. Yikes. I’m not sure how the businesses will take this.
In addition, it increases the period for the statute of limitations to expire from 30 years to 40 years for sexual assault offenses.
Notwithstanding the provisions of section 54-193, no person may be prosecuted for any offense, except a class A felony, involving sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or sexual assault of a minor except within [thirty] forty years from the date the victim attains the age of majority or within five years from the date the victim notifies any police officer or state’s attorney acting in such police officer’s or state’s attorney’s official capacity of the commission of the offense, whichever is earlier, provided if the prosecution is for a violation of subdivision (1) of subsection (a) of section 53a-71, the victim notified such police officer or state’s attorney not later than five years after the commission of the offense.
Prof. Berman points to a new website inspired by Glenarlow Wilson, called “My 5th“. One of the founders of the website is Wilson’s lawyer. Wilson is the Georgia teen that is serving a ten year sentence for engaging in consensual oral sex with a 15 year old. Due to the media coverage of his case, the Georgia legislature passed a bill now making this act a misdemeanor. However, there is no retroactivity provision in the bill, so Wilson is still serving his 10 year sentence. The blog has some interesting entries about public hearings at the legislature, but I really liked this interactive map about the age of consent in each state.
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