Fiscal Note & Local Impact Statement

126 th General Assembly of Ohio

Ohio Legislative Service Commission

77 South High Street, 9th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215-6136 Phone: (614) 466-3615

Internet Web Site: http://www.lsc.state.oh.us/

BILL:

Sub. H.B. 29

DATE:

April 27, 2005

STATUS:

As Reported by House Judiciary

SPONSOR:

Rep. Raussen

LOCAL IMPACT STATEMENT REQUIRED:

Yes

Corrected after initial review; additional research suggests certain local jurisdictions may experience more than minimal expenditure increase (over $5,000 annual cost)

 


CONTENTS:

Requires a court to consider certain factors before setting bail for a person if the person is charged with an offense of violence involving a victim who is a family or household member and the court is aware of certain information accompanying the complaint and generally requires the person to appear before the court before the court sets bail for that person

 

State Fiscal Highlights

 

        The bill is not expected to have any direct fiscal impact on the state.

Local Fiscal Highlights

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

FY 2005

FY 2006

FUTURE YEARS

Counties and Municipalities

Revenues

Potential gain, likely to be

no more than minimal

Potential gain, likely to be no more than minimal

Potential gain, likely to be

no more than minimal

Expenditures

Potential increase,

possibly exceeding minimal in certain jurisdictions

Potential increase,

possibly exceeding minimal in certain jurisdictions

Potential increase,

possibly exceeding minimal in certain jurisdictions

Note: For most local governments, the fiscal year is the calendar year. The school district fiscal year is July 1 through June 30.

 

        Municipal and county court expenditures. For the more populous cities in Ohio, it appears that the bill's bail setting provisions would codify current practice of the municipal and county courts with territorial and subject matter jurisdiction over such matters. Thus, as of this writing, it would appear that the "court appearance" provision will have little, or no, visible effect on the dockets and annual operating expenses of those courts. In the case of municipal and county courts who are not currently requiring a court appearance in such matters; however, especially a court that may only have one judge, who may be part-time, this provision of the bill may produce more than a minimal effect on the court's docket and annual operating expenses. For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, more than "minimal" means an estimated annual cost in excess of $5,000. From information that LSC fiscal staff has gathered to date, it would appear that, by and large, these municipal and county courts would have territorial jurisdictions in areas that are relatively rural or sparsely populated.

        County sheriff expenditures. The bill is likely to increase the expenditures of the county sheriff in any county that is not already requiring a court appearance for certain persons charged with an offense of violence against a family or household member before the setting of bail. These expenditures will largely fall into the categories of: (1) incarceration costs incurred as certain persons remain confined for longer periods of time, and (2) transportation and staff costs incurred in moving certain persons between the jail and the courthouse. As of this writing, it is unclear what the magnitude of those costs might be in any affected local jurisdictions.

        Bond revenues. If the bill results in an increase in the amount certain persons must pay to secure their release from jail from what that amount might otherwise have been under current law and practice, then, theoretically at least, counties and municipalities could potentially gain revenue. Unless, as a result of the bill, bail amounts noticeably increase, it seems unlikely that the gain in local revenues will be more than minimal. For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, a minimal gain would be an increase in revenue estimated at no more than $5,000 per year.


 


 

Detailed Fiscal Analysis

 

Fiscally notable provisions

 

For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, the bill contains the following notable provisions related to the setting of bail:

 

        Requires, to the extent that certain information is available, the court to consider certain factors before setting bail for a person charged with an offense of violence against a family or household member; and

        Requires the person to appear before the court before the court sets bail for that person when certain factors apply.

 

Caveat

 

There are provisions that have been removed, altered, or added to the substitute bill relative to the As Introduced version that LSC fiscal staff has not had an adequate opportunity to examine for their effects, if any, for the revenues and expenditures of the state or its political subdivisions. Thus, this fiscal analysis reflects LSC fiscal staff's preliminary review of the substitute bill and its varied provisions.

 

State fiscal effects

 

The bill is not expected to have any direct fiscal impact on the state.

 

Local fiscal effects: expenditures

 

Setting bail

 

Under current law, a set of risk factors is considered when setting bail for a person charged with a domestic violence offense only when that person: (1) is already the subject of a domestic violence protection order, or (2) has a previous conviction for certain domestic violence offenses or the violation of a domestic violence protection order. Under the bill, this set of risk factors will be considered before setting bail for "any person" charged with an offense of violence against a family or household member.

 

There are at least two factors that create significant uncertainty with regard to the local effect of this bail setting provision. These two factors can best be posed in the form of the following questions:

 

(1)   How much will the consideration of these factors affect the amount of bail an arrestee is required to post?

(2)   If, as a result of the bill, the amount of bail that certain arrestees must post in order to obtain pre-trial release increases, how many of these arrestees will be unable to pay that amount and remain locally incarcerated for a longer period of time than might otherwise have been the case under current law and practice?

 

If a large number of arrestees are unable to make the necessary bail, or it takes longer to arrange their bail, and as a result, these arrestees remain locally incarcerated for a longer period of time than might otherwise have been the case under current law and practice, local incarceration expenditures would in all likelihood increase.

 

Misdemeanor domestic violence charges are relatively common. As noted in Table 1 immediately below, in calendar year 2003, the Franklin County Municipal Court reported 5,335 misdemeanor domestic violence charges filed. If, for the purposes of this fiscal analysis, one does a simple population-based extrapolation from the Franklin County Municipal Court's experience, this would mean that roughly 55,290 misdemeanor domestic violence charges were filed annually statewide in calendar year 2003.

 

Table 1

Domestic Violence Charges Filed in Franklin County Municipal Court in 2003

Type of Offense

Number of Charges Filed

Domestic violence, misdemeanor

5,335

Domestic violence, felony

392

Violation of protection order

580

 

For charges related to felony domestic violence or violation of a protection order, the considerations for establishing bail being modified by the bill would already be considered. This is because, under current law, these considerations are already being used for arrestees who: (1) are already the subject of a domestic violence protection order, or (2) have a previous conviction for certain domestic violence offenses or the violation of a domestic violence protection order.

 

At this time, LSC fiscal staff has uncovered no information to indicate that the bill will radically modify the bail requirements for a large number of cases in such a way as to create a significant increase in annual local incarceration expenditures.

 

Court appearance

 

The bill creates the requirement that arrestees must appear before a court to have their bail set for an offense of violence against a family or household member if the arresting officer documents one or more of the following factors with regard to the case:

 

(1)   There is evidence of physical harm to the victim;

(2)   There is evidence of the offender being in possession of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance; or

(3)   The offender presents a credible threat of serious physical harm to the victim or any other person if the offender is released on bail before trial.

 

The bill also permits the court to: (1) hold the bail hearing via video conferencing equipment, and (2) waive the bail hearing for a person charged with a misdemeanor if the court believes the appearance before the court to be impracticable.

 

As the prior "caveat" noted, LSC fiscal staff has not had an opportunity to research the fiscal ramifications of this substitute version relative to what the local fiscal effects might have been under the As Introduced version of the bill. A review of the substitute bill suggests that some of its provisions provide the court with more discretion or flexibility than would have been permitted under the As Introduced version. If that were in fact true, then the magnitude of the potential impact on the operations and expenditures of certain courts would in all likelihood be lessened to some degree from what might otherwise have occurred subsequent to enactment of the As Introduced version of the bill. As LSC fiscal staff has not had time to assess that possibility, and in order to provide the reader with some context for the local fiscal issues raised by the court appearance provisions, we have included background information from the fiscal note for the As Introduced version of the bill in the paragraphs that immediately follow.

 

Impact of court appearance provisions in As Introduced version. For the more populous cities in Ohio, it appears that the As Introduced version of the bill would codify current practice of the municipal and county courts with territorial and subject matter jurisdiction over such matters. For those courts, it would appear that the "court appearance" provision will have little, or no, visible effect on the dockets and annual operating expenses of those courts.

 

In the case of municipal and county courts who are not currently requiring a court appearance in such matters, however, especially a court that may only have one judge, who may be part-time, the As Introduced version of the bill may produce more than a minimal effect on the court's docket and annual operating expenses. For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, more than "minimal" means an estimated annual cost in excess of $5,000. From information that LSC fiscal staff has gathered to date, it would appear that, by and large, these municipal and county courts would have territorial jurisdictions in areas that are relatively rural or sparsely populated.

 

A representative of ACTION Ohio, a domestic violence advocacy group, relayed to LSC fiscal staff, that, based on their informal conversations with a handful of counties, the changes that would have to be instituted in most of these rural counties, as a result of the As Introduced version of the bill, compared to their current bail setting practices in such matters could range anywhere from minor to significant.

 

Based on LSC fiscal staff's research, it appears that, currently, jurisdictions that are not having an arrestee appear before a judge take one of two approaches to bail decisions in cases of domestic violence: (1) a bond schedule is created by rule allowing an arrestee to immediately post bond for a particular offense, or (2) a judge performs a paper review of the pertinent information regarding the case in question to decide questions of bail.

 

For jurisdictions not currently requiring court appearances for bail determinations in cases of domestic violence, there are several potential costs associated with the As Introduced version of the bill. The first of these costs would involve potentially longer stays in jail for the arrestee. This increase in expenditures would impact the county sheriffs who are almost exclusively responsible for the running of full-service jails (i.e., those that can hold offenders for 120 hours). The second cost area also affecting county sheriffs involves transportation and staff costs incurred in moving certain persons between the jail and the courthouse. The third area of cost for these jurisdictions is the costs to the courts. Such costs would be a function of increased backlogs and reduced administrative efficiency, possibly requiring more involvement by judges, bailiffs, court reporters, prosecutors, and public defenders (if the defendant is indigent). It is not clear if the As Introduced version of the bill would create the need for additional staff, although this appears unlikely at this time.

 

A few local jurisdictions have reported that arrestees have been appearing before a magistrate rather than the judge. The language in the As Introduced version of the bill may curtail this practice, which likely would mean more work for a judge in those local jurisdictions. In these jurisdictions, the expenditures related to the As Introduced version of the bill could be more problematic.

 

Local fiscal effects: revenues

 

There are a number of different types of bonds that may be used, but only in the case of appearance bonds do local jurisdictions always retain some portion of collected revenue. In any situation where the person to be bailed is posting an appearance bond, counties and municipalities collect revenue. Appearance bonds require that the person pay 10% of their total bond. If the person makes all of their scheduled court appearances, 90% of that total is refunded.

 

Table 2 immediately below presents an example of how appearance bonds work. If the bill results in an increase in the amount a person must pay to secure their release from jail from what that amount might otherwise have been under current law and practice, then, theoretically at least, counties and municipalities could gain revenue. Unless, as a result of the bill, bail amounts noticeably increase, it seems unlikely that the gain in local revenues will be more than minimal. For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, a minimal gain would be an increase in revenue estimated at no more than $5,000 per year.

 

Table 2

Appearance Bonds: An Example

Bond Component

Amount

Total amount of bond

$20,000

10% required to obtain release

$2,000

Amount refunded if all court appearances are made

$1,800

Amount retained by court

$200

 

 

 

LSC fiscal staff: Laura A. Potts, Budget Analyst

 

HB0029HR.doc/lb