PA 10-180—sHB 5253

Judiciary Committee

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO VARIOUS STATUTES CONCERNING THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

SUMMARY: This act:

1. eliminates the five-year statute of limitation for a prosecution for (a) 1st or 2nd degree hindering prosecution if the person rendered criminal assistance to someone who committed a crime for which there is no statute of limitation (capital felony, class A felony, arson murder, or 1st degree escape) and (b) perjury committed during a proceeding that results in the conviction of someone who is later determined to be innocent;

2. adds coercion as an affirmative defense to perjury;

3. expands the circumstances under which a person on probation is guilty of failure to appear;

4. potentially increases the penalty for failure to appear for jury duty;

5. expands the crime of forgery to punish someone who falsely makes, completes, or alters a written instrument by signing his or her own name to it to falsely and fraudulently represent that he or she has authority to sign the document; and

6. makes confidential youthful offender records available to law enforcement and prosecutorial officials conducting legitimate criminal investigations.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2010 except the (1) perjury affirmative defense provision is effective upon passage and (2) statute of limitations changes are effective upon passage and apply to offenses committed (a) on or after that date or (b) before that date if the statute of limitations in effect at the time the offense was committed had not expired.

1-2 — FAILURE TO APPEAR

The act expands the circumstances under which a person on probation for a felony or misdemeanor conviction or motor vehicle violation is guilty of failure to appear. Under prior law, the person was guilty if he or she willfully missed a legally called probation violation hearing. Under the act, a person is guilty if he or she willfully misses any legally called court hearing related to a probation violation.

Failure to appear at a hearing on a felony violation is a class D felony (see Table on Penalties) and failure to appear for a hearing on a misdemeanor or motor vehicle violation is a class A misdemeanor.

3 — FAILURE TO APPEAR FOR JURY DUTY

The act subjects jurors who fail to appear for jury duty to a civil penalty in an amount that the Superior Court judges must establish. Under prior law, the jurors were guilty of an infraction. The act requires the attorney general, within available appropriations, to enforce the provision.

4 — FORGERY

The act expands the crime of forgery to punish someone who falsely makes, completes, or alters a written instrument by signing his or her own name to it to falsely and fraudulently represent that he or she has authority to sign the document.

By law, a person commits forgery by (1) falsely making, completing, or altering a written instrument with intent to defraud, deceive, or injure someone or (2) possessing a forged written instrument. The penalty ranges from a class B misdemeanor to a class C felony depending on the type of document forged.

5 — YOUTHFUL OFFENDER RECORDS

The act makes confidential youthful offender records available to law enforcement and prosecutorial officials conducting legitimate criminal investigations. By law, records of youthful offenders are confidential unless they involve certain crimes. The law also allows disclosure of confidential records:

1. between certain agencies and individuals directly providing services to the youth,

2. to the youth and the youth's parents or guardian until the youth reaches age 18 or is emancipated,

3. to the youth's attorney if the records are relevant to a proceeding, and

4. to Board of Pardons and Paroles and correction employees who need them to perform certain duties.

By law, records disclosed under these provisions cannot be further disclosed.

7 — COERCION AS AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE TO PERJURY

The act adds as an affirmative defense to perjury that the person was coerced into committing perjury by another. A person commits the crime of coercion by compelling or inducing another to engage in or abstain from conduct by instilling fear that if a demand is not complied with, someone will (1) commit a crime; (2) accuse someone of a crime; (3) expose a secret tending to subject someone to hatred, contempt, or ridicule or impair someone's credit or business reputation; or (4) take or withhold action as an official or cause an official to do so. A defendant has the burden of proving an affirmative defense by the preponderance of the evidence.

By law, a defendant can raise a defense of duress if he or she was coerced by use or threatened imminent use of physical force on him or her or another and a person of reasonable firmness in this situation would have been unable to resist. This does not apply if the person intentionally or recklessly placed himself or herself in a situation where it was probable that he or she would be subjected to duress (CGS 53a-14). The state must disprove a defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

BACKGROUND

1st and 2nd Degree Hindering Prosecution

A person commits 1st degree hindering prosecution by rendering criminal assistance to someone who, with intent to intimidate or coerce civilians or a government unit, committed a class A or B felony or an unclassified felony that is subject to a maximum prison sentence of more than 10 years. This is a class C felony with a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.

A person commits 2nd degree hindering prosecution by rendering criminal assistance to someone who committed a class A or B felony or an unclassified felony that is subject to a maximum prison sentence of more than 10 years. This is class C felony.

OLR Tracking: CR: KM: VR: DF