Legislation Recap - 2016 Session
The following bills, of interest to the justice reform community, became law in Florida on July 1, 2016:
SB 12 - The "no wrong door" policy, allows people who need mental-health or substance-abuse treatment to get it no matter how they enter the systems, whether through criminal offenses or personal crises.
SB 228 - Removes aggravated assault from a list of offenses that has been used to sentence people under the 10-20-Life mandatory-minimum sentencing law.
SB 636 - Requires local law-enforcement agencies to submit sexual-assault evidence kits, known as "rape kits," to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement within 30 days of the beginning of their investigations, or after being notified by victims or victims' representatives that they wish the evidence to be tested.
SB 1044 - Sets a minimum of 70 percent of the proceeds from seized property from an arrested individual to be used on court costs, fines and fees.
SB 1294 - Increases the age of a child victim or witness who may have his or her testimony videotaped or who may testify by closed circuit television from under 16 years to under18. The law also increases the minimum term of imprisonment --- from 5 days in jail to 30 days --- for a domestic violence crime when there is intentional bodily harm to another person.
HB 963 - The "Wes Kleinert Fair Interview Act," requires law enforcement to ensure a mental health counselor or instructor is provided during interviews involving an individual with autism.
These bills became law on October 1, 2016:
SB 218 - This law is aimed at reducing trafficking in electronic-benefit transfer cards. The cards are a higher-tech form of food stamps and help provide food assistance to low-income Floridians. The measure, in part, would make it a first-degree misdemeanor to have two or more EBT cards and sell or attempt to sell one of the cards. A second offense would be a third-degree felony.
SB 436 - Makes it a second-degree felony for making false reports about using firearms in a violent manner. The law also makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to threaten with death or serious harm a law-enforcement officer, state attorney or assistant state attorney, firefighter, judge, elected official or any of their family members.
SB 912 - Part of a crackdown on illegal electronic skimmers that have been found on gas pumps and ATM machines, this measure increases the penalties for people who possess counterfeit credit-card information. The proposal also includes requirements for gas-station owners and managers to use security measures on self-service fuel pumps.
HB 75 - Expands rules regarding electronic monitoring devices. The measure makes it a third-degree felony to ask another person to remove or help circumvent the operation of a monitoring device.
HB 387 - "Carl's Law" increases civil and criminal penalties when victims are people with disabilities. Carl Stark, a 36-year-old man with autism from St. Augustine was shot and killed in 2015 after being targeted by teenagers looking to steal a car.
HB 545 - Prohibits people under 18 from being prosecuted for prostitution and makes clear that sexually exploiting a child in prostitution should be viewed as human trafficking. The measure also increases the penalty for people who knowingly rent space used for prostitution.
HB 7071 - This law is intended to ease the legal threshold to prosecute officials involved in public corruption. Rather than proving an official acted "with corrupt intent," prosecutors will need to show the person "knowingly and intentionally" engaged in the corrupt act.
Bill descriptions excerpted from reports by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida. Used with permission.