BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    







                      SENATE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                            Senator Loni Hancock, Chair              S
                             2011-2012 Regular Session               B

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          SB 390 (La Malfa)                                           
          As Amended March 21, 2011 
          Hearing date:  March 29, 2011
          Penal Code
          JM:dl


                                 ASSAULT AND BATTERY:

                           SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAM MEMBERS  


                                       HISTORY

          Source:  California State Sheriffs' Association

          Prior Legislation: SB 1509 (Lowenthal) - Ch. 410, Stats. 2008
                       SB 1686 (Leno) - Ch. 243, Stats. 2007
                       SB 919 (Ortiz) - Ch. 274, Stats. 2003

          Support: California Police Chiefs Association; Kern County 
                   Sheriff; Kings County Sheriff; Shasta County Sheriff; 
                   Fresno County Sheriff; Lassen County Sheriff; Alameda 
                   County Sheriff

          Opposition:None known


          NOTE: THIS BILL IS ANALYZED AS PROPOSED TO BE AMENDED BY THE 
          AUTHOR IN COMMITTEE.

                                            
                                         KEY ISSUE




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          SHOULD MEMBERS OF SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAMS BE INCLUDED IN 
          EXISTING MISDEMEANOR ASSAULT AND BATTERY CRIMES WHERE THE VICTIM 
          IS A  FIREFIGHTER, PEACE OFFICER, EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIAN 
          OR OTHER SIMILAR PROFESSIONAL?


                                          
                                       PURPOSE

          The purpose of this bill, as proposed to be amended in Committee 
          by the author, is to include search and rescue personnel in 
          existing misdemeanor assault and battery crimes applicable where 
          the victim is a firefighter, peace officer, emergency medical 
          technician or other similarly-situated professional, as 
          specified. 

           Existing law  defines an assault as an attempt to commit a 
          violent injury on another, although a person is guilty of 
          assault if he or she does any act knowing that the natural and 
          probable consequences of that act is infliction of injury on 
          another person.  (People v. Williams (2001) 26 Cal.4th 779; Pen. 
          Code  240.)

           Existing law  provides that simple assault (in which great bodily 
          injury is not likely to occur) is a misdemeanor, punishable by a 
          jail term of up to 6 months, a fine of up to $1000, or both.  
          (Pen. Code  241, subd. (a).)

           Existing law  provides that where the victim of an assault is a 
          custodial officer, traffic officer, firefighter, EMT, physician 
          or nurse providing emergency care, lifeguard, process server, 
          traffic officer, code enforcement officer, or animal control 
          officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties, and the 
          person committing the assault is aware of the victim's status, 
          the crime is a misdemeanor, punishable by a county jail term of 
          up to 1 year, a fine of up to $2000, or both.  (Pen. Code  241, 
          subd. (c).)





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           Existing law  defines a battery as "any willful and unlawful use 
          of force or violence upon the person of another."  (Pen. Code  
          242.)

           Existing law  provides that simple battery (battery not causing 
          injury requiring medical attention) is a misdemeanor punishable 
          by a county jail term of up to 6 months, a fine of up to $1000, 
          or both.  (Pen. Code  242.)

           Existing law  provides that where the victim of a simple battery 
          is a custodial officer, traffic officer, firefighter, EMT, 
          physician or nurse providing emergency care, lifeguard, process 
          server, traffic officer, code enforcement officer, or animal 
          control officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties, 
          the crime is a misdemeanor, punishable by a county jail term of 
          up to one year, a fine of up to $2000, or both.  The fact that 
          the defendant knew, or should have known, the status of the 
          victim is an element of this crime.  (Pen. Code  243, subd. 
          (b).)
           
          Existing law  provides that where the victim of a battery is a 
          custodial officer, traffic officer, firefighter, EMT, physician 
          or nurse providing emergency care, lifeguard, process server, 
          traffic officer, code enforcement officer, or animal control 
          officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties, and an 
          injury is inflicted on the victim, the crime is an alternate 
          felony-misdemeanor, punishable by a county jail term of up to 
          one year, a fine of up to $2000, or both, or by a prison term 
          of 16 months, 2 years or 3 years and a fine of up to $10,000.  
          The fact that the defendant knew, or should have known, the 
          status of the victim is an element of this crime.  (Pen. Code  
          243, subd. (c).)

           This bill,  as proposed to be amended in Committee by the author, 
          would add search and rescue team members to the existing 
          misdemeanor assault and battery crimes applicable where the 
          victim is a firefighter, peace officer, or other 
          similarly-situated professional, as specified. 





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           This bil  l provides that assault or simple battery on a search 
          and rescue member is punishable by a jail term of up to one year 
          and a fine of up to $2,000.

           This bill  defines search and rescue member as any person who is 
          part of an organized search and rescue operation that is managed 
          by a law enforcement agency.




































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                    RECEIVERSHIP/OVERCROWDING CRISIS AGGRAVATION
          
          For the last several years, severe overcrowding in California's 
          prisons has been the focus of evolving and expensive litigation. 
           As these cases have progressed, prison conditions have 
          continued to be assailed, and the scrutiny of the federal courts 
          over California's prisons has intensified.  

          On June 30, 2005, in a class action lawsuit filed four years 
          earlier, the United States District Court for the Northern 
          District of California established a Receivership to take 
          control of the delivery of medical services to all California 
          state prisoners confined by the California Department of 
          Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR").  In December of 2006, 
          plaintiffs in two federal lawsuits against CDCR sought a 
          court-ordered limit on the prison population pursuant to the 
          federal Prison Litigation Reform Act.  On January 12, 2010, a 
          three-judge federal panel issued an order requiring California 
          to reduce its inmate population to 137.5 percent of design 
          capacity -- a reduction at that time of roughly 40,000 inmates 
          -- within two years.  The court stayed implementation of its 
          ruling pending the state's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.  

          On Monday, June 14, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear 
          the state's appeal of this order and, on Tuesday, November 30, 
          2010, the Court heard oral arguments.  A decision is expected as 
          early as this spring.  

          In response to the unresolved prison capacity crisis, in early 
          2007 the Senate Committee on Public Safety began holding 
          legislative proposals which could further exacerbate prison 
          overcrowding through new or expanded felony prosecutions.     

           This bill,  as proposed to be amended in Committee by the author, 
          does not appear to aggravate the prison overcrowding crisis 
          described above.






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                                      COMMENTS

              1.   Need for This Bill
           
          According to the author:

               Search and rescue personnel are trained and organized 
               by county sheriff's departments to participate in 
               disaster response, evacuations and body recovery. In 
               performing their duties, they are often put in harm's 
               way, sacrificing their personal safety to provide 
               public safety.

               Senate Bill 390 serves to recognize the critical 
               support role that search and rescue personnel play in 
               sheriffs' offices by increasing the maximum penalties 
               for both assault and battery of search and rescue team 
               members. If passed, the misdemeanor penalties would be 
               equal to those applied to assault and battery of 
               similar law enforcement and public safety personnel, 
               including peace officers, firefighters and EMTs, among 
               others.

           2.Existing Assault and Battery Statutes; This Bill  

           The California statutes on assault and battery are extremely 
          complicated and convoluted.  There are numerous provisions 
          setting out enhanced penalties because of the status or 
          profession of the victim.  Several enhancements apply where the 
          defendant caused great bodily injury.  A separate statute 
          describes a felony for battery with "serious" bodily injury. 
          There are individual statutes for assaults and batteries on 
          school property, or in a park, or on public transportation, 
          assaults and batteries on highway workers, school peace 
          officers, jurors and members of the armed forces.

          This bill does not create a stand-alone section concerning 



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          assault or battery on a search and rescue team member.  Rather, 
          the bill amends one of the more general and comprehensive 
          special assault and battery sections.  This bill amends sections 
          on assault and battery in which the victim is one of a list of 
          specified professionals, officers or workers.  These include 
          firefighters, peace officers, emergency medical technicians, 
          animal control officers and others.  These professions and 
          occupations appear to be similar to search and rescue team 
          members, the subject of this bill.

          ARE SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAM MEMBERS SIMILAR TO PERSONS AND 
          PROFESSIONALS COVERED BY THE STATUTE PROVIDING FOR ENHANCED 
          PENALTIES FOR ASSAULTS AND BATTERIES ON FIREFIGHTERS, PEACE 
          OFFICERS, EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIANS, EMERGENCY PHYSICIANS 
          AND NURSES, AND OTHER SPECIFIED PERSONS?
           
          3.Background Information From Author - Example of Assault on a 
            Search and Rescue Team Member

           The author has provided the Committee with an example of a 
          battery on a volunteer sergeant in a search and rescue team.  On 
          February 28, 2010, a team was searching for Chelsea King near a 
          freeway in San Diego.  A truck traveling on the freeway spun out 
          of control and into a ditch.  Joseph Charmasson, a volunteer 
          search and rescue sergeant, ran to the truck to assist the 
          occupants.  Charmasson was wearing a search and rescue unit 
          uniform.

          As Charmasson opened the door of the truck, the driver punched 
          him in the face with a closed fist.  After a brief struggle, 
          Charmasson was able to seize the truck keys and detain the 
          driver in the truck.  Sheriff's deputies then arrived and 
          arrested the driver.  Charmasson did not need medical treatment.
             
          SHOULD ENHANCED MISDEMEANOR PENALTIES APPLY TO ASSAULTS AND 
          BATTERIES AGAINST SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAM MEMBERS?






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