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Report finds rash of crimes on the books never charged.

Byline: Rachel Leingang

More than one-third of Arizona laws involving a felony penalty havent been used in the past 15 years, a new report from the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission found. While Arizonas criminal code is routinely used to charge people with felonies, there are felony penalties sprinkled throughout state statutes. The commission, state-level governmental group created by Arizona statute that serves criminal justice agencies, hopes the information on unused felonies may ignite a conversation on updating statutes to make it easier for citizens to understand the law. ACJC analyzed state statutes that include felony penalties against the Arizona Department of Public Safetys database of criminal charges, the Arizona Computerized Criminal History, from fiscal year 2002 to fiscal year 2016. Of the 1,47 individual statutes that include a criminal felony penalty, 500 of the statutes have no arrest charges over the past 15 years, ACJC found. Additionally, 7 of the statutes put in place since June 2011 havent had any arrest charges as of the end of fiscal year 2016. Some of the felony penalties found outside the criminal code may duplicate crimes found in the criminal code, ACJC said. Some of the statutory titles have a high percentage of felonies not charged in the last 15 years, the commission pointed out. For instance, Title 20 on insurance has 32 felony options, 23 of which have not been used. Title 41 on state government has 42 felonies, 2 of which havent been used. Title 49 on the environment has 54 potential felonies, 47 of which havent been used. The laws not charged in the past 15 years include things like filing a false bingo report, coerced manslaughter, various terrorism statutes, partial-birth abortion, child bigamy, multiple election fraud measures, selling unlawfully taken big game animals and auto glass fraud. There are statutes not charged in 15 years that relate to false statement to get workers compensation, maintaining private troops, evading motor vehicle taxes, various examples of operating without a medical license, illegal sale of body parts, public officials receiving bribes or hiding records, fraudulently altering a legislative bill after its passed but before its signed by the governor, and most of the felonies on water and air pollution violations. ACJC said there could be some limitations to its analysis. Data may be incomplete because its possible not all arresting agencies in Arizona are entering charges fully and correctly into the DPS database, though the commission notes all felonies and misdemeanor DUI, sexual and domestic violence offenses are mandated to be put into the database at the time of arrest. The commission reviewed only felonies because its not clear how many misdemeanor charges are added to the database since they arent mandated by law. Additionally, ACJC wrote, the agencies that make arrests may not always put charges into the database using the appropriate subsection of statute, meaning an arresting agency may use the overarching statute like 13-1203 instead of drilling down to the specific subset like 13-1203.A1. In the report, ACJC said it hopes the analysis will spark a dialogue by Arizonas legislators and policy makers about the increasingly complex landscape that has been created for Arizona citizens and law enforcement to navigate regarding illegal activities. The commission noted some possible outcomes based on the report, like bringing together stakeholders on specific issues to review felony penalties in their relevant statutes and determine if theyre still necessary. Additionally, the legislature could conduct a review to see if penalties are duplicated in other parts of statute. For instance, ACJC noted, a bribery of racing personnel felony charge exists under the gaming statutes, where it hasnt been used in 15 years, and in the criminal code, where it is used regularly. The commission said the legislature could also act to repeal statutes it has determined to be duplicative or unused over a long period of time.

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Publication:Arizona Capitol Times
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1U8AZ
Date:Mar 1, 2018
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