PA 08-102—sHB 5877

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING PROBATION

SUMMARY: This act reduces the maximum probation term the court can impose on someone convicted of a (1) class C, D, or unclassified felony from five to three years; (2) class A misdemeanor from three to two years; and (3) class B misdemeanor from two years to one. But it also gives the court discretion to continue to sentence someone up to the maximum probation terms provided in prior law, on a case-by-case basis.

The act requires a person's probation officer to submit a progress report to the sentencing court, state's attorney, and the probationer's attorney of record if the probationer was sentenced to more than a certain number of years of probation for one of these felonies or misdemeanors. The court must then consider the report and any victim statement to decide whether to continue or terminate the probation. These provisions apply only to sentences imposed on or after October 1, 2008.

The act also reduces the maximum terms of conditional discharge to which a court can sentence an offender. The act reduces the term for:

1. class C, D, or unclassified felonies from five years to three years;

2. class A misdemeanors from three years to two years; and

3. class B misdemeanors from two years to one year.

The act changes the conditions that are imposed on someone who is arrested for a violation of probation or conditional discharge. It also requires the court to dispose of or schedule a hearing on the violation within 120 days after arraignment unless good cause is shown. Prior law required the court to bring a defendant before it for a hearing on the violation without unnecessary delay.

The act also makes technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2008 except for the provision that changes the conditions of release after an arrest warrant or a notice to appear for a violation of probation or conditional discharge, which is effective upon passage.

PROBATION TERMS

Table 1 displays the changes in probation terms to which a court can sentence an offender under prior law and the act.

Table 1: Probation Terms Under Prior Law and the Act.

Type of Offense

Prior Law

Maximum Term

Under the Act

Maximum Term

Case-by-Case Maximum Term

Felonies

Class C

5 Years

3 Years

5 Years

Class D

5 Years

3 Years

5 Years

Unclassified

5 Years

3 Years

5 Years

Misdemeanors

Class A

3 Years

2 Years

3 Years

Class B

2 Years

1 Year

2 Years

The act does not change the (1) law that prohibits a court from sentencing someone convicted of a class A felony to probation, (2) maximum probation period for a class B felony (five years), or (3) probation period for certain sex offenders (between 10 and 35 years).

PROBATION OFFICER'S REPORT, VICTIMS, AND COURT DECISION

The act requires a person's probation officer to submit a progress report to the sentencing court at least 60 days before the (1) two-year mark in the probation term of someone sentenced to more than two years of probation for a class C or D felony or an unclassified felony or (2) one-year mark in the probation term of someone sentenced to more than one year of probation for a class A or B misdemeanor. The report must also be submitted to the state's attorney and the probationer's attorney of record if there is one.

The report must describe the probationer's progress in addressing his or her assessed needs and compliance with probation conditions. The officer must recommend, under guidelines the Judicial Branch develops, whether the probation period should continue or terminate.

Within 60 days of receiving the report, the sentencing court must either continue or terminate the person's probation. The parties can agree to waive a court hearing.

The Judicial Branch's Court Support Services Division's (CSSD) policies and procedures must require victim notification when someone's probation may be terminated. The court must allow the victim to (1) appear and make a statement for the record about whether to terminate the probation period or (2) submit a written statement that the court makes part of the record. The court must consider a victim's statement before continuing or terminating the probation period.

VIOLATIONS OF PROBATION AND CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE

By law, the issuance of an arrest warrant or a notice to appear for a violation of probation or conditional discharge interrupts the probation or conditional discharge sentence until a court makes a final determination concerning the violation.

PA 08-1, January Special Session, which was effective on passage, required the defendant to comply with any conditions imposed or previously imposed probation or conditional discharge conditions during the interrupted period unless the court orders otherwise. The act instead allows the court to impose any conditions of release it may impose on anyone arrested for a bailable offense. But after October 1, 2008, the act requires the defendant to comply with the probation or conditional discharge conditions previously imposed and requires CSSD to make reasonable efforts to inform the defendant of his or her obligation to continue complying with these conditions and to provide a copy of them.

The act requires the court to review the conditions previously imposed on the defendant when he or she is arraigned on the violation charge. The court can, as a condition of pretrial release, order the defendant to comply with any of these conditions and any other conditions that could be imposed on someone arrested for a bailable offense. The person is supervised by CSSD unless the judge orders supervision by a probation officer or other designated person or organization.

BACKGROUND

Probation and Conditional Discharge

By law, the court can sentence someone to probation if (1) present or extended institutional confinement is not necessary to protect the public; (2) the defendant needs guidance, training, and assistance that can be effectively administered through probation supervision; and (3) it is not inconsistent with the ends of justice (CGS 53a-29(a)).

By law, the court can impose a sentence of conditional discharge if (1) present or extended institutional confinement is not necessary to protect the public and (2) probation supervision is not appropriate (CGS 53a-29(b)).

By law, if a person violates the conditions of probation or conditional discharge, the court can continue the sentence of probation or conditional discharge, modify or enlarge the conditions, extend the time period up to the amount of the maximum allowed for the crime, or revoke the probation or conditional discharge (CGS 53a-32).

By law the court or sentencing judge can terminate a sentence of probation or conditional discharge for good cause at any time after a hearing except for certain sex offenders (CGS 53a-33).

Conditions of Probation or Conditional Discharge

By law, the court can impose a number of conditions on someone sentenced to probation or conditional discharge including:

1. working, studying, or training for employment;

2. medical, psychiatric, or sex offender treatment;

3. supporting dependants and meeting family obligations;

4. restitution;

5. if a minor, residing with his or her parents or in a foster home, attending school, and contributing to supporting his or her home;

6. posting a bond or security;

7. participating in programs, if appropriate, such as alternative incarceration, community service, anti-bias crime education, or animal cruelty programs;

8. residing in a residential community center or halfway house;

9. electronic monitoring; and

10. other conditions reasonably related to rehabilitation.

CSSD can require that someone sentenced to probation comply with any conditions that the court could have imposed if they are not inconsistent with the conditions that the court did impose (CGS 53a-30).

Conditions for Releasing Someone on Bail

By law, the Superior Court must, in bailable offenses, promptly order an arrestee's release upon the first of the following conditions sufficient to reasonably assure his or her appearance in court upon execution of a:

1. written promise to appear without special conditions,

2. written promise to appear with non-financial conditions,

3. bond without surety in no greater amount than necessary, or

4. bond with surety in no greater amount than necessary.

The court may order the person to submit to periodic drug testing and treatment under certain circumstances.

The court may consider many factors when determining what conditions to impose. If it imposes nonfinancial conditions, it imposes the least restrictive ones that will reasonably assure the person's appearance in court and, for certain arrestees, that the safety of others will not be endangered. The conditions can include:

1. supervision by a person or organization;

2. restrictions on travel, association, or place of abode;

3. not engaging in specific activities including using or possessing dangerous weapons, intoxicants, or drugs;

4. participating in the zero tolerance drug supervision program;

5. providing sureties of the peace;

6. avoiding contact with the victim and witnesses who may testify;

7. employment;

8. education;

9. electronic monitoring; and

10. other conditions reasonably necessary to ensure the person's appearance in court and the safety of others (CGS 54-64a).

OLR Tracking: CR: SP: JL: dw