Thank You SB 91 - From a Convict

Contributed by Anonymous

Thank you SB 91… 

As a convict, I want to thank you especially for Sections 23 and 24 of the latest version offered on April 29, 2016.  

Thank you SB 91… 
Thank you that violating my bail conditions will no longer be a crime punishable by jail time once you become law in the near future. Violating my bail conditions will be a violation, a minor offense, similar to a speeding ticket. I will have much less to worry about when I’m caught breaking my bail conditions. If they can even catch me at all.

Right now if I’m on bail conditions in a felony case and I violate one of the conditions imposed by the judge, the maximum time I can be sentenced to if convicted of Violation of Condition of Release (VCR) per Alaska Statute 11.56.757(a)(1) is one year in jail. If I’m on bail conditions in a misdemeanor case, the maximum I face if the State files a VCR charge is 90 days and 6 months if the Municipality of Anchorage files the charge. There is no minimum mandatory jail time for VCR under State statute or MOA ordinance. 

But soon after you are passed, I will be getting no jail time for intentionally violating my bail conditions. Instead, the maximum penalty I will be given will be a $1000 fine; probably meaning I’ll be fined somewhere between $100 and $500 for my first two or three violations. Even better, I’m hopeful that police will not even take the time to give me a citation for this violation as their time will be better spent fighting crimes that are actually crimes.      

Let’s say I’m charged with misdemeanor assault for punching my spouse in the face because I got into an argument after having a bit too much to drink. Right now, the judge would probably give some bail conditions like these: No consumption or possession of alcohol or drugs, no bars, no liquor stores, no contact (direct or indirect) with the victim, and no going back to the residence of the victim. 

Thanks to SB 91, I can do all of these things and not get charged with a separate crime. Yes if the police catch me, I can be taken to jail on my assault case; but prosecutors will no longer be able to charge me with the separate crime of VCR.    

Thank you SB 91 …
For weakening the position of prosecutors. Right now if I violate my bail conditions prosecutors can charge me with an additional crime, giving them more leverage to force me to take a deal from them.  By a deal, I mean a plea and sentencing agreement where I give up my trial and appellate rights on one or more charges in exchange for a specific amount of jail time related to those charges. 

But when you are signed into law, neither me nor my defense attorney will have to negotiate this charge with prosecutors any longer since prosecutors will not be resolving Violation of Condition of Release charges any longer. Instead this will likely be left in the hands of the police for the most part, just like traffic tickets.       

Thank you SB 91… 
For making it very tough for judges and prosecutors to be able to get an accurate picture of how often I will violate my bail conditions in the future. Violation of Condition of Release will soon be a violation, a minor offense. APSIN, the Alaska Public Safety Information Network, is used by State Troopers and other law enforcement officers across Alaska, including prosecutors, to run criminal background checks on suspects and defendants. 

APSIN shows prior criminal convictions within the State as well as arrests for crimes. APSIN access can also be used to access Alaska driving records. Minor offenses are not typically tracked by APSIN unless they are driving-related. So it appears unlikely that APSIN will track convictions of Violation of Condition of Release once you transition it to a minor offense.  

In other words, five years from now at my arraignment on a new felony offense, if I have accumulated 10 convictions of the minor offense of Violation of Condition of Release between now and then, the judge and the prosecutor are likely to never know.   

Thank you Senate Bill 91!


Convict Conn (pseudonym for an attorney practicing criminal law writing as a private citizen)