March 25, 2019

The Division of Criminal Justice respectfully requests the Committee’s JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT for S.B. No. 996, An Act Concerning Revisions to Various Statutes Concerning the Criminal Justice System. This is the Division’s annual “omnibus” bill, which includes several minor or technical changes to various statutes. Specifically:

Section 1 is strictly a technical change to correct an apparent scrivener’s error in Section 1-102 of the General Statutes. As now written, the law requires the referral to the State’s Attorney in New Britain of complaints alleging unlawful appointment of state officers or persons paid by the state to influence legislative action. The bill replaces the New Britain State’s Attorney with the Chief State’s Attorney, which is the logical place such complaints would go.

Section 2 of the bill is strictly technical. It merely removes a reference to a statute that has been repealed, i.e., it eliminates what is essentially a dead-end reference in the statutes. Specifically, Public Act 89-232 repealed Section 14-118 of the General Statutes.

Section 3 of the bill is a largely technical revision to the law governing the recording of private telephonic communications. Specifically, the bill would make it clear that an individual has the right to record a telephone conversation at the behest of the police where the individual has already consented to such recording.

Section 4 of the bill corrects an inconsistency in the statutes concerning the crimes of Assault in the Second Degree and Assault in the Second Degree with a Firearm. As now written, the maximum penalty for Assault in the Second Degree is potentially greater than the maximum penalty for Assault in the Second Degree with a Firearm, which is intended to be more a serious offense given the involvement of a weapon. The simple Assault in the Second Degree count carries the possibility of a mandatory minimum sentence, while the aggravated offense does not. Section 4 simply brings consistency to both by providing for a mandatory minimum sentence when appropriate.

Section 5 of the bill extends the criminal lockout statutes to include commercial properties. Section 53a-214 currently only pertains to persons who are denied residence to their dwelling unit or personal possessions, thereby making the section inapplicable to commercial units. Police have historically failed to recognize that the removal of a commercial tenant without eviction is also against the laws of summary process; assuming no applicable criminal penalty on a commercial lockout. While other charges can be brought for the same acts, including larceny and trespass, it would be better enforced and more appropriate to simply expand the definition of the present lockout statute to specifically include commercial properties.

Section 6 of the bill repeals obsolete statutory provisions, specifically:

  • Section 7-22, which provides a specific procedure for the State’s Attorney to follow for the removal of a town clerk “guilty of misconduct, wilful and material neglect of duty or incompetence in the conduct of such town clerk’s office.”While this may have been an appropriate function in earlier days, it would now seem to go well beyond what would be seen as a criminal matter reserved for the State’s Attorney. Other existing laws would still cover actual criminal conduct by a town clerk.
  • Section 7-81 mirrors Section 7-22 with reference to town treasurers, and for the same reasons cited for the town clerks, it is obsolete and should be repealed.
  • Section 13a-69 is a quaint, but also obsolete and essentially irrelevant provision. This section involves the State’s Attorney in a process for resolving a situation where a town fails to construct or alter a highway as ordered by the Superior Court. This provision is clearly obsolete and does not fall within the scope of the Division’s constitutional responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of criminal matters.
  • Section 13b-305 also involves the State’s Attorney in highway construction and maintenance only with regards to railroads. It empowers the State’s Attorney to bring an action when a railroad fails to build or maintain a highway or bridge it has a duty to construct. Again, this does not fall within the scope of the Division’s constitutional responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of criminal matters.

In conclusion, the Division respectfully recommends the Committee’s JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT for S.B. No. 996. We thank the Committee for affording this opportunity to provide input on this matter and would be happy to provide any additional information the Committee might require or to answer any questions that you might have.