BILL SUMMARY for HB16-1080
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
|Votes: View-->||Action Taken:|
01:35 PM -- HB16-1080
The committee was called to order. A quorum was present. Mr. Bo Pogue, Legislative Council Staff (LCS), explained the LCS research note project to the committee. Representative Foote, co-prime sponsor, presented House Bill 16-1080, concerning assault by strangulation. Representative Foote discussed the need for and merits of the legislation. Representative Foote screened a short video for the committee on strangulation, and provided comments on the video. Representative Foote explained how assault by strangulation is prosecuted under current law. Committee members received a statistical sheet showing domestic violence strangulation data for Weld County (Attachment A).
Representative Foote explained the effect of the bill. Representative Foote responded to questions regarding the sufficiency of current law for prosecuting assault by strangulation, and the elements that must be satisfied to prosecute the crime under HB 16-1080.
Discussion continued regarding the sufficiency of current law for prosecuting strangulation crimes. The following persons testified regarding HB 16-1080:
02:02 PM -- Ms. Carrie Thompson, representing the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, testified in opposition to the bill. Ms. Thompson explained that strangulation and suffocation are routinely prosecuted in Colorado, and that current law sufficiently covers the crimes addressed by the bill. Ms. Thompson responded to questions regarding her position on a hypothetical amendment to the bill, and reiterated some objections to the bill.
Ms. Thompson responded to questions regarding disparities in prosecuting strangulation crimes between different jurisdictions, and a fact pattern that may be prosecuted under the bill. Ms. Thompson responded to further questions regarding the scope of certain language in the bill, and clarified earlier comments she made about "true" strangulation or suffocation.
Ms. Thompson responded to further questions regarding how to improve the definition of strangulation in HB 16-1080, and the effect of this definition on prosecutorial discretion. Discussion returned to what constitutes strangulation under the bill. Ms. Thompson responded to questions regarding potential vagueness in the bill.
Ms. Thompson clarified the effect of HB 16-1080, and discussed the broadness of the language in the bill. Discussion returned to the elements that must be satisfied to prosecute assault by strangulation under the bill.
Discussion continued regarding the broadness of the bill's definition of strangulation, and the potential for amending the bill to address this broadness. Ms. Thompson responded to questions regarding how the bill might be improved to the satisfaction of her organization.
02:56 PM -- Mr. Tim Johnson, representing the Twentieth Judicial District, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Johnson discussed the seriousness of assault by strangulation, and provided background on these crimes. Mr. Johnson discussed the need to prosecute and penalize strangulation commensurate with its seriousness, and explained the narrowly tailored nature of HB 16-1080. Discussion ensued regarding the definition of "serious bodily injury" under current law.
Mr. Johnson addressed a hypothetical situation raised during earlier testimony, and responded to questions regarding the use of strangulation as a method of self-defense under the bill. Mr. Johnson responded to further questions regarding the problem being addressed by HB 16-1080.
Mr. Johnson responded to questions regarding specific laws in Colorado and in other states that address assaults in the context of domestic violence. Representative Foote provided input on prosecution of domestic violence crimes under current law.
03:25 PM -- Ms. Leanna Stoufer, representing herself, testified in support of HB 16-1080. Ms. Stouffer recounted her experiences as the victim of a violent incident at the hands of her boyfriend that included strangulation.
03:31 PM -- Ms. Tracey Tatro Swindle, representing the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Tatro Swindle recounted the history of domestic violence in her marriage, including an episode of strangulation.
03:36 PM -- Ms. Lynn Small, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Small discussed an incident of strangulation she experienced at the hands of a domestic partner, and the subsequent prosecution of the case. Ms. Small responded to questions regarding medical evaluations she undertook after the assault.
03:41 PM -- Ms. Shannon Stemple, representing herself, testified in support of HB 16-1080. Ms. Stemple discussed episodes of strangulation to which she was subjected by her spouse, and the effect of these episodes. She discussed the inadequacy of current law for addressing assault by strangulation.
03:50 PM -- Ms. Danielle Evans, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Evans discussed the strangulation crimes perpetrated against her, and the resulting charges levied against the perpetrator. She also discussed the effects of the strangulation.
03:54 PM -- Ms. Megan Lechner, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Lechner discussed the cases of strangulation she treats as a forensic nurse, and the effects of strangulation. Ms. Kim Nash, also a forensic nurse representing herself, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Nash discussed the physical effects of strangulation, and the environments in which people are strangled. Ms. Nash responded to questions regarding the visibility of strangulation injuries.
04:02 PM -- Dr. Leon Kelly, representing the El Paso County Coroner's Office, testified in support of HB 16-1080. Dr. Kelly discussed his participation in strangulation cases as an expert witness, and the physical effects of strangulation. Dr. Kelly responded to questions regarding the need for the prosecution to prove serious bodily injury for strangulation cases after the passage of the bill. Dr. Kelly responded to further questions regarding his approach to serving as an expert witness on strangulation, and whether the description in HB 16-1080 constitutes strangulation.
04:16 PM -- Mr. Mark Hurlbert, representing the Eighteenth Judicial District, the Colorado District Attorneys' Council, and the County Sheriffs of Colorado, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Hurlbert discussed the dangers of strangulation, and explained that the current prosecution of these crimes is insufficient.
The committee recessed for a security alarm, but did not return.