BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                             Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair
                            2015 - 2016  Regular  Session

          AB 835 (Gipson) - Vehicular manslaughter:  statute of limitation
          
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          |Version: April 14, 2015         |Policy Vote: PUB. S. 7 - 0      |
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          |Urgency: No                     |Mandate: No                     |
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          |Hearing Date: July 6, 2015      |Consultant: Jolie Onodera       |
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          This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. 

          

          Bill  
          Summary:  AB 835 would revise the statute of limitations for the  
          crime of vehicular manslaughter if the person flees the scene of  
          an accident to one year after the person is initially identified  
          by law enforcement as a suspect, or within the existing statute  
          of limitations, whichever is later.


          Fiscal  
          Impact:  
           Potential future increase in state costs, potentially in  
            excess of $50,000 (General Fund) in any one year to the extent  
            additional commitments to state prison occur under the  
            extended statute of limitations that otherwise would not have  
            occurred under existing law. While the number of new  
            commitments to state prison is estimated to be minimal, given  
            the potential length of the applicable prison term including  
            the five-year sentence enhancement under VC  20001(c), even  
            two commitments within a seven to 11-year time period could  
            result in annual prison costs in excess of the Suspense File  







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            threshold.
           Potential future increase in non-reimbursable local costs  
            (General Fund*) to the extent additional misdemeanor  
            convictions to jail occur under the extended statute of  
            limitations that otherwise would not have occurred under  
            existing law. Any increased costs to local agencies could  
            potentially require a subvention of funds from the State  
            (General Fund*).

          *Proposition 30 (2012) provides that legislation enacted after  
          September 30, 2012, that has an overall effect of increasing the  
          costs already borne by a local agency for public safety  
          services, as defined, are not subject to mandate reimbursement,  
          however, apply to local agencies only to the extent the State  
          provides annual funding for the cost increase. Legislation  
          creating a new crime or changing the definition of an existing  
          crime is exempt from this funding provision, however,  
          legislation changing the penalty for a crime is not similarly  
          exempted. To the extent it is determined that the provisions of  
          this bill change the penalty for the crime of vehicular  
          manslaughter by extending the period within which violations can  
          be prosecuted, any increase in costs to local agencies  
          attributable to provisions of this legislation could potentially  
          require annual funding from the State.


          Background:  Existing law provides that vehicular manslaughter is  
          punishable by either imprisonment in the county jail for not  
          more than one year or by imprisonment in state prison for two,  
          four, or six years. (Penal Code (PC)  193(c)(1)-(2).)
          Under existing law, a driver of a vehicle involved in an  
          accident resulting in the death of a person who does not  
          immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident may be  
          punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or  
          four years, or in a county jail for not less than 90 days nor  
          more than one year, or by a fine of not less than $1,000 nor  
          more than $10,000, or by both that imprisonment and fine.  
          (Vehicle Code (VC)  20001(b)(2).)

          Further, existing law provides that a person who flees the scene  
          of the crime after committing a violation of, or upon conviction  
          of, vehicular manslaughter, in addition and consecutive to the  
          punishment prescribed, is subject to an additional term of  
          imprisonment of five years in state prison. (VC  20001(c).)








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          Under existing law, the statute of limitations for an offense  
          punishable by imprisonment in state prison or county jail  
          pursuant to realignment may be commenced within three years  
          after commission of the offense, except as specified. Existing  
          law additionally provides that prosecution for a misdemeanor  
          must be commenced within one year after commission of the  
          offense, except as specified. (PC  801, 802.)


          Existing law allows a criminal complaint to be filed within the  
          standard period or one year after the person is initially  
          identified by law enforcement as a suspect in the commission of  
          the offense, whichever is later, but in no case later than six  
          years after the commission of the offense, if a person flees the  
          scene of an accident that caused death, or permanent, serious  
          injury. (PC 803(j).)




          Proposed Law:  
           This bill would revise the statute of limitations for the crime  
          of vehicular manslaughter if a person flees the scene of an  
          accident to one year after the person is initially identified by  
          law enforcement as a suspect in the commission of that offense,  
          or within the existing statute of limitations, whichever is  
          later.


          Related  
          Legislation:  AB 184 (Gatto) Chapter 765/2013 extends the  
          statute of limitations for fleeing the scene of an accident that  
          caused death or permanent, serious injury, to one year after the  
          person is initially identified by law enforcement as a suspect  
          in the commission of the offense, or within the existing statute  
          of limitations, whichever is later, but in no case later than  
          six years after the commission of the offense.


          Staff  
          Comments:  By extending the statute of limitations on the  
          prosecution of the offense of vehicular manslaughter if a person  








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          flees the scene of an accident, the provisions of this bill  
          could result in additional prosecutions, court trials, and  
          convictions with sentences to county jail and state prison. The  
          magnitude of these costs would be dependent on various factors  
          including the number of violations that otherwise would not have  
          been subject to prosecution under existing law, and the details  
          of each particular case. 
          Based on CDCR data for the past three years (2012-2014), the  
          average number of commitments to state prison under PC  192(c)  
          for vehicular manslaughter is 25 per year and commitments under  
          VC  20001 is 84 per year. While the number of commitments to  
          state prison under the extended statute of limitations is  
          expected to be minimal, to the extent even two cases are  
          impacted by the extended statute of limitations, and considering  
          the potential length of the applicable prison term including the  
          five-year sentence enhancement per VC  20001, as well as the  
          absence of a time limitation on the number of years since the  
          commission of the offense, even two commitments within a seven  
          to 11-year time period could result in annual prison costs in  
          excess of the Suspense File threshold of $50,000. This estimate  
          assumes an in-state contract bed cost of $27,000 per inmate per  
          year.

          Under 2011 Realignment Legislation, the state provided funding  
          to the counties to place offenders in county jail for specified  
          felonies that previously would have required a state prison  
          sentence. Pursuant to Proposition 30 (2012), legislation enacted  
          after September 30, 2012, that has an overall effect of  
          increasing the costs already borne by a local agency for  
          programs or levels of service mandated by the 2011 Realignment  
          Legislation apply to local agencies only to the extent that the  
          state provides annual funding for the cost increase. Proposition  
          30 specifies that legislation defining a new crime or changing  
          the definition of an existing crime is not subject to this  
          provision, however, legislation changing the penalty for a crime  
          is not similarly exempted. To the extent it is determined that  
          the provisions of this bill change the penalty for the crime of  
          vehicular manslaughter by extending the period within which  
          violations can be prosecuted, any increase in costs to local  
          agencies attributable to provisions of this legislation could  
          potentially require annual funding from the State.

          The Three-Judge Court has ordered the State to reduce its prison  
          population to 137.5 percent of the prison system's design  








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          capacity by February 28, 2016. Pursuant to its February 10, 2014  
          order, the Court has ordered the CDCR to implement several  
          population reduction measures, prohibited an increase in the  
          population of inmates housed in out-of-state facilities, and  
          indicated the Court will maintain jurisdiction over the State  
          for as long as necessary to ensure the State's compliance with  
          the 137.5 percent final benchmark is durable, and that such  
          durability is firmly established. Any future increases to the  
          State's prison population challenge the ability of the State to  
          reach and maintain such a "durable solution," and could require  
          the State to pursue one of several options, including  
          contracting-out for additional bed space or releasing current  
          inmates early onto parole.



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