BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    







                      SENATE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                            Senator Loni Hancock, Chair              A
                             2013-2014 Regular Session               B

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          AB 2264 (Levine)                                           4
          As Amended June 15, 2014 
          Hearing date:  June 24, 2014
          Government; Penal Codes
          AL/JM:mc 

                                 VICTIM COMPENSATION:

                           GUIDE, SIGNAL, OR SERVICE DOGS  


                                       HISTORY

          Source:  Author

          Prior Legislation: AB 1801 (Pavley) - Ch. 322, Stats. 2004

          Support: Guide Dogs for the Blind; Canine Companions for  
          Independence; one individual 

          Opposition:None known 

          Assembly Floor Vote:  N/A



                                         KEY ISSUE
           
          SHOULD THE EXPENSES ASSOCIATED WITH THE DEATH OR INJURY OF A GUIDE,  
          SIGNAL, OR SERVICE DOG EITHER INTENTIONALLY CAUSED OR PERMITTED BY A  
          PERSON BE ELIGIBLE FOR REIMBURSEMENT THROUGH THE VICTIM COMPENSATION  
          PROGRAM, AS SPECIFIED? 




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                                       PURPOSE

          The purpose of this bill is to extend eligibility for  
          reimbursement under the Victim Compensation Program to cover  
          costs associated with the injury or death of a guide, signal, or  
          service dog as a result of a crime, as specified.   

          Restitution for Losses Associated with Guide, Signal, or Service  
          Dogs 

           Existing provisions in the California Constitution  state that  
          all crime victims have the right to seek and secure restitution  
          from the perpetrators of these crimes.  Restitution must be  
          ordered in every case without exception.  Where a defendant has  
          been ordered to pay restitution, all money, or property  
          collected from the defendant must be first applied to satisfy  
          restitution orders.  (California Constitution Article 1   
          28(b)(13)(A)-(C).)

           Existing law  requires the court to order a defendant to make  
          restitution to the victim or victims of the defendant's crime,  
          based on the amount of loss claimed by the victim or victims or  
          any other showing to the court.  The court shall order full  
          restitution for the losses caused by the defendant's crime  
          unless the court finds and states compelling and extraordinary  
          reasons for not doing so.  (Penal Code  1202.4(f).)  

           Existing law  provides that it is an infraction for any person to  
          permit any dog owned, harbored, or controlled by him or her to  
          cause injury to, or the death of any guide, signal, or service  
          dog, as defined.  (Penal Code  600.2(a).)

           Existing law  provides that a violation of the above section is  
          an infraction punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 if the  
          injury or death to the guide, signal, or service dog was caused  
          by the person's failure to exercise ordinary care in the control  
          of his or her dog.  (Penal Code 
           600.2(b).)




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           Existing law  provides that it is a misdemeanor if the injury or  
          death of any guide, signal, or service dog was caused by the  
          person's reckless disregard in the exercise of control over his  
          or her dog under circumstances that constitute such a departure  
          from the conduct of a reasonable person as to be incompatible  
          with a proper regard for the safety and life of any guide,  
          signal, or service dog.  The penalty is up to one year in county  
          jail and/or a fine of 2,500-$5,000.  (Penal Code  600.2(c).)

           Existing law  provides that a person convicted of causing injury  
          or death to any guide, signal or service dog may also be ordered  
          to make restitution to the person who had ownership or custody  
          of the guide, signal, or service dog and may be liable for any  
          veterinary bills and replacement costs, or other reasonable  
          costs deemed appropriate by the court.  (Penal Code  600.2(d).)

           Existing law  states that any person who intentionally causes  
          injury to, or the death of any guide, signal or service dog, as  
          defined, while the dog is in the discharge of its duties is  
          guilty of a  misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in the  
          county jail up to one year and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000.   
          (Penal Code  600.5(a).)



           Existing law provides that any defendant convicted of a  
          violation of injuring or killing a guide, signal or service dog  
          shall be ordered to make restitution to the disabled person if  
          it is disabled or killed for any veterinary bills and  
          replacement costs of the dog, or other reasonable costs deemed  
          appropriate by the court.  (Penal Code  600.5(b).)

           This bill  provides that when 1) a person causes injury or death  
          of any guide, signal, or service dog through the failure or  
          reckless disregard to exercise control over his or her dog or  
          through his or her intentional actions and 2) the defendant is  
          unable to pay restitution for specified costs associated with  
          the injury or death of the guide, signal, or service dog, the  




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          person with the disability may apply for compensation by the  
          California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board  
          (board).  
           
          Restitution Fund: Eligible Individuals 
           
          Existing law  establishes within the Government Operations Agency  
          the board to operate the Victim Compensation Program (VCP), to  
          reimburse victims of crime for the pecuniary losses they suffer  
          as a direct result of criminal acts.  Indemnification is made  
          from the Restitution Fund, which is continuously appropriated to  
          the board.  (Penal Code  13901 and 13950 et. seq.)

           Existing law  requires that a victim or derivative victim seeking  
          compensation from the board must sustain one or more of the  
          following:

             a)   Physical injury, as specified. 

             b)   Emotional injury and a threat of physical injury.

             c)   Emotional injury, as specified. 

           This bill  adds to the list of eligibility criteria above the  
          injury or death of a guide, signal, or service dog either  
          intentionally caused or permitted by an individual. 

          Restitution Fund: Eligible Pecuniary Losses

           Existing law  authorizes the board to reimburse for pecuniary  
          loss, as follows:

             a)   The amount of medical or medical-related expenses  
               incurred by the victim, subject to specified limitations.

             b)   The amount of out-patient psychiatric, psychological or  
               other mental health counseling-related expenses incurred by  
               the victim, as specified, including peer counseling  
               services provided by a rape crisis center.




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             c)   The expenses of non-medical remedial care and treatment  
               rendered in accordance with a religious method of healing  
               recognized by state law.

             d)   Compensation equal to the loss of income or loss of  
               support, or both, that a victim or derivative victim incurs  
               as a direct result of the victim's injury or the victim's  
               death, subject to specified limitations.

             e)   Cash payment to, or on behalf of, the victim for job  
               retraining or similar employment-oriented services.

             f)   The expense of installing or increasing residential  
               security, not to exceed $1,000, with respect to a crime  
               that occurred in the victim's residence, upon verification  
               by law enforcement to be necessary for the personal safety  
               of the victim or by a mental health treatment provider to  
               be necessary for the emotional well-being of the victim.

             g)   The expense of renovating or retrofitting a victim's  
               residence or a vehicle to make them accessible or  
               operational, if it is medically necessary.

             h)   Expenses incurred in relocating, as specified, if the  
               expenses are determined by law enforcement to be necessary  
               for the personal safety or by a mental health treatment  
               provider to be necessary for the emotional well-being of  
               the victim.  

             i)   In the case of a victim's death, medical, funeral, and  
               burial expenses, up to specified limits, may be reimbursed  
               by the board.

             j)   Reasonable costs to clean the scene of the crime, up to  
               $1,000, may reimbursed by the board.  (Government Code   
               13957(a).)

           This bill  would extend eligibility criteria for reimbursement  




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          from the board to include the expense of veterinary services,  
          replacement costs, or other reasonable expenses, as ordered by  
          the court, incurred when the injury or death of a guide, signal,  
          or service dog either permitted or intentionally caused by a  
          person and the defendant is unable to make restitution to the  
          victim. 


                    RECEIVERSHIP/OVERCROWDING CRISIS AGGRAVATION

          For the last several years, severe overcrowding in California's  
          prisons has been the focus of evolving and expensive litigation  
          relating to conditions of confinement.  On May 23, 2011, the  
          United States Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its  
          prison population to 137.5 percent of design capacity within two  
          years from the date of its ruling, subject to the right of the  
          state to seek modifications in appropriate circumstances.   

          Beginning in early 2007, Senate leadership initiated a policy to  
          hold legislative proposals which could further aggravate the  
          prison overcrowding crisis through new or expanded felony  
          prosecutions.  Under the resulting policy, known as "ROCA"  
          (which stands for "Receivership/ Overcrowding Crisis  
          Aggravation"), the Committee held measures that created a new  
          felony, expanded the scope or penalty of an existing felony, or  
          otherwise increased the application of a felony in a manner  
          which could exacerbate the prison overcrowding crisis.  Under  
          these principles, ROCA was applied as a content-neutral,  
          provisional measure necessary to ensure that the Legislature did  
          not erode progress towards reducing prison overcrowding by  
          passing legislation, which would increase the prison population.  
            

          In January of 2013, just over a year after the enactment of the  
          historic Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011, the State of  
          California filed court documents seeking to vacate or modify the  
          federal court order requiring the state to reduce its prison  
          population to 137.5 percent of design capacity.  The State  
          submitted that the, ". . .  population in the State's 33 prisons  




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          has been reduced by over 24,000 inmates since October 2011 when  
          public safety realignment went into effect, by more than 36,000  
          inmates compared to the 2008 population . . . , and by nearly  
          42,000 inmates since 2006 . . . ."  Plaintiffs opposed the  
          state's motion, arguing that, "California prisons, which  
          currently average 150% of capacity, and reach as high as 185% of  
          capacity at one prison, continue to deliver health care that is  
          constitutionally deficient."  In an order dated January 29,  
          2013, the federal court granted the state a six-month extension  
          to achieve the 137.5 % inmate population cap by December 31,  
          2013.  

          The Three-Judge Court then ordered, on April 11, 2013, the state  
          of California to "immediately take all steps necessary to comply  
          with this Court's . . . Order . . . requiring defendants to  
          reduce overall prison population to 137.5% design capacity by  
          December 31, 2013."  On September 16, 2013, the State asked the  
          Court to extend that deadline to December 31, 2016.  In  
          response, the Court extended the deadline first to January 27,  
          2014, and then February 24, 2014, and ordered the parties to  
          enter into a meet-and-confer process to "explore how defendants  
          can comply with this Court's June 20, 2013, Order, including  
          means and dates by which such compliance can be expedited or  
          accomplished and how this Court can ensure a durable solution to  
          the prison crowding problem."

          The parties were not able to reach an agreement during the  
          meet-and-confer process.  As a result, the Court ordered  
          briefing on the State's requested extension and, on February 10,  
          2014, issued an order extending the deadline to reduce the  
          in-state adult institution population to 137.5% design capacity  
          to February 28, 2016.  The order requires the state to meet the  
          following interim and final population reduction benchmarks:

                 143% of design bed capacity by June 30, 2014;
                 141.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2015; and,
                 137.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2016. 

          If a benchmark is missed the Compliance Officer (a position  




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          created by the February 10, 2016 order) can order the release of  
          inmates to bring the State into compliance with that benchmark.   


          In a status report to the Court dated May 15, 2014, the state  
          reported that as of May 14, 2014, 116,428 inmates were housed in  
          the State's 34 adult institutions, which amounts to 140.8% of  
          design bed capacity, and 8,650 inmates were housed in  
          out-of-state facilities.   

          The ongoing prison overcrowding litigation indicates that prison  
          capacity and related issues concerning conditions of confinement  
          remain unresolved.  While real gains in reducing the prison  
          population have been made, even greater reductions may be  
          required to meet the orders of the federal court.  Therefore,  
          the Committee's consideration of ROCA bills -bills that may  
          impact the prison population - will be informed by the following  
          questions:

                 Whether a measure erodes realignment and impacts the  
               prison population;
                 Whether a measure addresses a crime which is directly  
               dangerous to the physical safety of others for which there  
               is no other reasonably appropriate sanction; 
                 Whether a bill corrects a constitutional infirmity or  
               legislative drafting error; 
                 Whether a measure proposes penalties which are  
               proportionate, and cannot be achieved through any other  
               reasonably appropriate remedy; and,
                 Whether a bill addresses a major area of public safety  
               or criminal activity for which there is no other  
               reasonable, appropriate remedy.











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                                      COMMENTS

           1.Recent Amendments
             
          This bill was gutted and amended in the Senate on June 15, 2014.  
           Prior to its current content and as passed by the Assembly, the  
          bill pertained to the licensure of clinics by the State  
          Department of Public Health.  On June 17th, the bill was  
          withdrawn from Senate Health Committee and re-referred to this  
          Committee on June 18th.

           2.Need for This Bill
             
          According to the author:

                Guide, service, and signal dogs are highly trained  
                animals that make a healthy, fulfilling and  
                independent life possible for people with a variety  
                of physical challenges.  Current law states that it  
                is a criminal offence to cause injury, whether  
                intentional or unintentional, to a guide, signal or  
                service dog.  A defendant that is convicted in these  
                attacks is required to provide restitution for the  
                harm caused to the dog. 

                However, if the defendant is fiscally unable to  
                provide compensation, the victim is left unable to  
                obtain funds to care for the injuries sustained to  
                their dog. This bill would state that if the  
                defendant is unable to make restitution, the victim  
                is eligible to apply for compensation under the  
                Victim's Compensation Fund as the dog is an extension  
                of the person and a vital component to their  
                independence.    

                Without this bill, existing law is deficient in that  
                in these types of cases the victim is not made whole.  
                 It is expected that there will be very few such  



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                reimbursement cases in California.  Therefore, it  
                does not seem that this bill will create a  
                substantial demand on the Fund.  However, to the  
                individual, this bill means freedom and independence  
                to the person being served by the dog.

                This bill is being pursued this year late in the  
                process because this issue has just come to our  
                attention and the Legislature still has the  
                opportunity to address it this year.  Without this  
                change, it may take until January 2016 to correct  
                this law.

           3.Effect of This Bill

           This bill allows a person with a disability who has ownership or  
          custody of a guide, signal, or service dog that has been injured  
          or killed due to the intentional actions of another individual,  
          as specified, to seek reimbursement from the board for  
          veterinary bills, replacement costs, or other costs deemed  
          reasonable by the court, if the defendant is unable to pay  
          restitution. Current law requires the court to order restitution  
          for pecuniary loss suffered by a victim, including costs  
          associated with the death or injury of a guide, signal, or  
          service dog as a result of the offense, but if a defendant is  
          unable to pay, the expenses included in the restitution order  
          are ineligible for compensation through the VCP. 


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