Legislative agenda for SC law enforcement officials includes Internet sweepstakes, bonds, life without parole sentencing

Priorities include ban on sweepstakes, changes in bonds and creating mail and wire fraud law

nophillips@thestate.comJanuary 17, 2013 

— Outrage over people committing crimes while on bond for other offenses has gotten the attention of the Legislature.

A bill has been filed that would make it easier for judges to revoke bond for people who commit violent crimes. It also would add penalties for people who commit crimes while on bond.

The bill is one of 10 announced Wednesday as part of the S.C. law enforcement legislative agenda. The agenda was developed by state Attorney General Alan Wilson, State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel and solicitors and sheriffs from across the state.

Those officials gathered at the State House to announce their agenda. Bills already have been filed for each item on the agenda. But they have a long road to travel through subcommittees, committees, the Senate and the House before they can become law.

Bonds: If a person commits a violent crime while on bond, then the next bond hearing would have to be held in circuit court. Criminals also would have to serve an additional five years in prison if they are convicted of a crime while on bond, and they would not be eligible for work release or parole.

Internet sweepstakes: A bill that specifically outlaws sweepstakes games appears to be on its way to approval in the Senate. A similar bill has been filed in the House.

Life without parole: This bill would allow solicitors to seek a life without parole penalty in murder cases with aggravated circumstances. Under current law, those cases must be tried as death penalty cases. Those are expensive to prosecute, so this would give prosecutors another option.

Jury strikes: South Carolina is one of five states where prosecutors and defense attorneys do not get an equal number of chances to strike people from juries. This bill would even those strikes for both sides. Currently, defense attorneys get 10 strikes and prosecutors get five.

Use of testimony: This bill would repeal a law that prohibits prosecutors from using incriminating testimony recorded in one trial against a defendant in a second trial.

Business records: If a prosecutor requests business records from another state to use in a trial, the state must pay for an expert witness to travel to the trial to testify that the documents are authentic. This bill would allow those records to be validated thought affidavits or video testimony so the expert could stay home.

Mail and wire fraud: The bill would develop a mail and wire fraud law that is similar to one in federal courts. It would outlaw using mail or electronic transfers to steal money or property.

Attempted murder: This bill would remove the words “intent to kill” from the attempted murder statute so police and prosecutors do not have to illustrate in a trial what a suspect’s intentions were.

Assault and battery: The phrase “moderate bodily injury” would be removed from the law that defines assault and battery.

Multijurisdictional agreements: The bill would smooth out agreements between law enforcement agencies who assign officers to task forces composed of people from different jurisdictions. Different jurisdictions no longer would be required to reimburse each other, and law enforcement agencies would have to notify their city and county councils when they sign these agreements.

Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.

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