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s_jud_2018a_2018-02-07t14:00:41z5 Hearing Summary




PUBLIC
BILL SUMMARY For SB18-119

SENATE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
Date Feb 7, 2018      
Location SCR 352



SB18-119 - Referred to Senate Appropriations


02:33:05 PM  

The committee recessed.

 

 

 

02:39:56 PM  

The committee was called back to order. 

Senator Gardner, bill sponsor, explained SB18-119 concerning false imprisonment of a minor.  He discussed the origins of the bill and the frustruation expressed by law enforcement agencies that current law does not reflect the seriousness of egregious crimes concerning the confinement or detainment of children.  He explained that such crimes are currenly classified as a misdemeanor and that serious bodily injury must be proven to rise to a felony offense. 

Senator Gardner answered questions about the broad application of the bill.  Senator Gardner assured the committee that there are checks and balances throughout the criminal justice process to ensure that the bill does not cast too wide of a net.  He also addressed jury instructions, spousal privilege, and the definition of "instrumentality" as used in the bill. 

03:06:19 PM  

Genevieve Manco, representing the Colorado Bar Association, testified in opposition to the bill.  She reported that current child abuse statutes adequately cover the crimes outlined in the bill.  She also mentioned that the bill has the potential to be too broad in its application. 

Ms. Manco answered questions from the committee about the use of the word "instrumentality" in the bill, discretion within various facets of the criminal justice system, and jury standards. 

 

03:21:25 PM  

Janet Huffor, representing the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, testified in support of the bill.  She reported that the bill was initiated by the Investigations Unit and is in response to multiple cases of children locked, chained, or confined by their parent or guardian.  She discussed the need to charge abusive parents with more than a misdemeanor and compared Colorado's child abuse statutes with those in other states.  

 

 

03:24:43 PM  

Jason Darbyshire, representing El Paso County Sheriff's Office, spoke in favor of the bill.  He provided examples of child imprisonment cases that he has come across during the course of duties.  He stressed that parents committing such offenses should be subject to more serious penalties.  He presented a scenario where an abusive parent was allowed to go home to his/her house and family because the offense was only determined to a misdemeanor.  Mr. Darbyshire also compared the language in the bill to that used in felony stalking statutes. 

 

 

03:41:02 PM  

Pat Gallagher, representing El Paso Sheriff's Office, testified in support of the bill.  He expressed the opinion that current law is lacking in extreme child imprisonment circumstances.  He emphasized that the bill would empower law enforcement to keep children safe. 

Committee members expressed their condolences to the witnesses for the recent loss of their colleague in the line of duty.

The witnesses answered questions from the committee about current law and having to prove serious bodily injury (bruises do not count) for a felony child abuse charge.  The committee and witnesses discussed checks and balances in the criminal justice system in relation to the broad application of the bill, and the potential of harsher penalties to act as deterrent.  

 

03:44:55 PM  

Mark Christiani. representing Fountain Police Department, testified in favor of the bill.  He provided an example of a child imprisonment case in Fountain and answered questions from the committee.  

 

 

03:47:54 PM  

Jennifer Darby, District Attorney representing the 4th Judicial District, testified in support of the bill.  She explained the practical application of the bill, checks and balances, and holding perpetrators to higher standards.

03:54:32 PM  

Victor Marks, representing himself as a child advocate, spoke in favor of the bill.  He relayed a personal account of being abused and traumatized as a child.  He stressed the need for law enforcement to have the tools to protect children and answered related questions from the committee. 

 

 

03:58:43 PM  

Senator Gardner gave closing remarks.  He stressed that perpetrators often know the law, and this bill has the potential to keep children safer.  He emphasized that the bill does not apply to cases where children are sent to their room for a brief punishment. 



04:02:05 PM
Motion Refer Senate Bill 18-119 to the Committee on Appropriations.
Moved Gardner
Seconded
Coram Yes
Fields Yes
Kagan Yes
Cooke Yes
Gardner Yes
Final YES: 5   NO: 0   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  PASS