Criminal Law

April 2, 2015 | Category: Criminal

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 8, sponsored by Rep. Cox and Rep. Steuerwald, on a death penalty aggravator, making a murder eligible for the death penalty if the murder involved decapitating or attempting to decapitate the victim while the victim was still alive. A representative of the Indiana Catholic Conference testified against the death penalty generally. The bill passed 10-0.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 385, sponsored by Rep. McMillin and Rep. Truitt, on murder sentencing; aggravating circumstance. This bill permits the state to seek the death penalty or a sentence of life without parole for a murder committed in a building primarily used for educational purposes if the murder is committed on school property or in a building owned by a post-secondary educational institution and at a time when children are likely to be present (for a building on school property) or classes are in session (for a building owned by a post-secondary educational institution). This bill also authorizes the state to seek the death penalty or a sentence of life without parole for a murder committed in a building primarily used for religious worship if the murder is committed at a time when persons are likely to present for religious worship or education. A representative of the Indiana Catholic Conference and a representative from the Public Defenders Council testified against the bill. The bill was held to clarify language issues.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 559, sponsored by Rep. Frizzell, on crimes of violence. This bill adds unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon to the definition of “crimes of violence”. It also establishes new caps for consecutive sentences that result from a single episode of criminal conduct. This legislation defines “emergency medical services provider”. It also establishes a 20 year sentencing enhancement for a person who points or discharges a firearm at an individual whom the person knows or reasonably should have known was a police officer.  A representative from the Public Defenders Council testified against the bill because of the mandatory criminal sentence for the police officer enhancment. The bill was amended to change the police officer enhancement to “may” instead of “shal” for 5 to 20 years. The bill was also amended to provide that a person is a habitual offender if the state proves the person has been convicted of three prior unrelated felonies of any level. A police officer and a prosecutor from Dearborn County, spoke in favor of the police officer enhancement. The amended bill passed 9-0.

The Senate Appropriations Committee heard HB 1006, sponsored by Sen. Steele and Sen. Young, on criminal justice funding. This bill was amended to provide:

  1. the DOC to compile certain information and submit a quarterly report to the state budget committee and a monthly report to the Justice Reinvestment Advisory Council;
  2. provides that counties or courts wishing to apply to the DOC for financial aid shall apply through the Community Corrections Advisory Board and specifies the purposes for which the DOC may award financial aid;
  3. permits a residential work release facility to be physically connected to a jail if total separation between the facilities is maintained;
  4. repeals the county corrections fund that provides funding to each county for operation of the county’s jail, jail programs, or other local correctional facilities or community based programs;
  5. removes the provision in the bill that would require the Indiana Judicial Center to award grants to assist with community corrections programs in each county;
  6. provides that the Executive Director of the Indiana Judicial Center is to serve as the chairperson of the Justice Reinvestment Advisory Council;
  7. establishes the mental health and addiction forensic treatment services account within the statutes governing the Division of Mental Health and Addiction rather than the statutes governing corrections (under current law);
  8. provides that the Division of Mental Health and Addiction may use money in the account to fund grants and vouchers for mental health and addiction forensic treatment services;
  9. requires a probation officer to consult with community corrections in preparing a presentence report;
  10. permits a court to delegate the terms of placement in community corrections to the community corrections program director, and permits the director to change the terms of placement or reassign a person in community corrections;
  11. permits the sheriff to receive a community corrections grant as a per diem or as reimbursement for the medical expenses of an incarcerated person;
  12. establishes the duties of the advisory council.

Representatives of several agency service providers, Universal Health, and the Probation Officers Professional Association of Indiana testified in support of the bill. The amended bill passed 11-0.

The Senate Health and Provider Services Committee heard HB 1269 on mental health matters sponsored by Sen. Patricia Miller and Sen. Crider. Author Rep. Clere reported that the bill addresses a number of mental health issues including: (1) authorizing the DOC, county or health navigator to serve as a representative of inmates for the purpose of applying for Medicaid eligibility, (2) requiring the DOC, county or health navigator to assist inmates apply for Medicaid and to secure treatment services upon release or discharge from incarceration, (3) authorizing a community mental health center to assist DOC and jail offenders apply for Medicaid, (4) establishing that a person found to be Medicaid eligible who is incarcerated in DOC or a jail shall have their Medicaid participation suspended for a period not to exceed three years before participation is terminated unless the individual is receiving immediate medical attention, and (5) requiring a person who is arrested and taken into custody to be assessed, subject to available funding, by a qualified and licensed mental health or addictions professional or a provider certified or licensed by DMHA to determine if the person has a mental illness or substance addiction, with required reporting of assessment results and providing for re-assessments until release. Testimony was heard in support of this bill from the Indiana Council of Community Mental Health Centers, Mental Health America of Indiana, Children’s Coalition of Indiana, Recovering Kids and Families, Indiana University Health, and the Indiana School Counselor Association. The bill was held until next week for amendment.

The Senate Appropriations Committee heard HB 1304 on various criminal law issues sponsored Sen. Steele and Sen. R. Michael Young. The committee adopted three amendments. Two of the amendments made language changes and technical corrections. The third amendment, introduced by Sen. Kenley, excludes certain offenders from treatment in lieu of prosecution or incarceration and removes provisions providing for 100% state reimbursement to chief public defenders.

The amended bill passed 11-0, and includes the following provisions:

  • Amends the forensic diversion program (pre-conviction and post-conviction) to make persons with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and autism spectrum disorders eligible for participation;
  • Authorizes a drug abuser or alcoholic charged with or convicted of a felony to request treatment in lieu of prosecution and imprisonment under certain conditions;
  • Authorizes the voluntary and involuntary commitment of alcoholics and drug abusers to DMHA;
  • Authorizes a court alcohol and drug program under IC 12-23-16 or the clerk of a court to collect program user fees;
  • Authorizes a court to appoint a court appointed forensic advocate to assist persons with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorders charged in a criminal offense and for payment of a user fee for this service;
  • Amends Ind. Code § 35-50-2-8 to allow a court to suspend the sentence of certain habitual offenders if the habitual offender is in a court approved substance abuse treatment program and if the offender completes the program, to deduct the time spent in treatment from the fixed term of imprisonment;
  • Authorizing the use of a federal Food and Drug Administration approved long acting, nonaddictive medication to treat opioid or alcohol addiction as a condition of parole, probation community corrections, pretrial diversion or participation in problem solving courts;
  • Excludes possession of rolling papers and raw materials from the crime of possession of paraphernalia and makes the knowing and intentional possession of paraphernalia a Class C misdemeanor and increases the penalty to a Class A misdemeanor if the person has a prior unrelated judgment or conviction;
  • Makes it a Level 6 felony to possess a hypodermic needle with intent to commit a controlled substance offense (current law makes it a crime only if committed with intent to violate the legend drug act);
  • Requires the Criminal Justice Institute to track, by age and offense, the number of presumptive and permissive waivers of jurisdiction involving juveniles in adult court to evaluate the feasibility of increasing the age in these cases from 16 to 17 years;
  • Raises the minimum age a child can be charged with murder if committed by an adult and waived from 10 to 12 years of age under Ind. Code § 31-30-3-4;
  • Adds a new article to the juvenile code to require a law enforcement agency to record custodial interrogations of juveniles, except in schools, if it would impair the administration of school functions;
  • Specifies that a juvenile may not be restrained in court unless the court has determined on the record that the juvenile is dangerous or potentially dangerous;
  • Removes the authority of a court to hold truants and runaways for 24 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and nonjudicial days) before and after a detention hearing; and
  • Establishes that a child commits a delinquent act, runaway, when the child leaves a specific location previously designated by the child’s parent, guardian or custodian in addition to home.