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:

H.B. 259

DATE:

June 14, 2005

STATUS:

As Introduced

SPONSOR:

Rep. Wagner

LOCAL IMPACT STATEMENT REQUIRED:

No —

Minimal cost

 


CONTENTS:

Prohibits a person, with intent to harass, annoy, threaten, or alarm a law enforcement officer, from causing or attempting to cause the law enforcement officer to come into contact with a bodily substance

 

State Fiscal Highlights

 

STATE FUND

FY 2006

FY 2007

FUTURE YEARS

General Revenue Fund (GRF)

     Revenues

- 0 -

- 0 -

- 0 -

     Expenditures

Potential incarceration cost increase, likely to be minimal at most

Potential incarceration cost increase, likely to be minimal at most

Potential incarceration cost increase, likely to be
minimal at most

Victims of Crime/Reparations Fund (Fund 402)

     Revenues

Potential negligible gain in court cost revenues

Potential negligible gain in court cost revenues

Potential negligible gain in court cost revenues

     Expenditures

- 0 -

- 0 -

- 0 -

Note:  The state fiscal year is July 1 through June 30.  For example, FY 2006 is July 1, 2005 – June 30, 2006.

 

·        Incarceration expenditures.  It is also possible as a result of the bill that, in the future:  (1) offenders that might not otherwise have been prison-bound under current law and sentencing practices may be sentenced to a prison term, and (2) offenders that would have been prison-bound under current law and sentencing practices may be sentenced to a longer prison term.  Assuming all other conditions remain the same, either outcome theoretically at least increases the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's (DRC's) GRF-funded incarceration costs.  As the number of offenders that might be affected in either manner annually appears likely to be relatively small, any related increase in DRC's annual incarceration costs would be minimal at most.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, minimal means an estimated cost of less than $100,000 per year for the state.

·        Court cost revenues.  If, as a result of the bill, an offender is convicted of a felony offense rather than a misdemeanor offense, then the state may gain locally collected court cost revenues that are deposited to the credit of the Victims of Crime/Reparations Fund (Fund 402).  As the number of offenders that could be affected in this manner appears likely to be relatively small, the amount of court cost money that Fund 402 will gain annually is likely to be negligible.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, “negligible” means an estimated revenue gain of less than $1,000 per year.  It is also important to note that collecting court costs and fines from certain offenders can be problematic, especially in light of the fact that many are indigent.


Local Fiscal Highlights

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

FY 2005

FY 2006

FUTURE YEARS

Counties

     Revenues

Potential gain in court costs and fines, likely to be no more than minimal

Potential gain in court
costs and fines, likely to
be no more than minimal

Potential gain in court
costs and fines, likely to
be no more than minimal

     Expenditures

Potential criminal justice system cost increase, not likely to exceed minimal

Potential criminal justice system cost increase, not likely to exceed minimal

Potential criminal justice system cost increase, not likely to exceed minimal

Municipalities

     Revenues

Potential loss in court costs and fines, likely to be no more than minimal

Potential loss in court
costs and fines, likely to
be no more than minimal

Potential loss in court
costs and fines, likely to
be no more than minimal

     Expenditures

Potential criminal justice system cost decrease, not likely to exceed minimal

Potential criminal justice system cost decrease, not likely to exceed minimal

Potential criminal justice system cost decrease, not likely to exceed minimal

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

 

·        County criminal justice system expenditures.  The bill could increase a given county criminal justice system's costs related to investigating, prosecuting, adjudicating, defending (if the offender is indigent), and subsequent sanctioning of certain offenders, as such offenders may work harder to avoid the imposition of a term, or a longer term, of incarceration in jail or prison.  As the number of criminal cases likely to be affected by the bill appears to be relatively small, then any potential increase in any given county criminal justice system's expenditures seems unlikely to exceed minimal on an ongoing basis.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, a minimal expenditure increase means an estimated cost of no more than $5,000 per year for any affected county criminal justice system.

·        Municipal criminal justice system expenditures.  One notable local effect of the bill may be to shift criminal cases that would have been handled by municipal courts and county courts as misdemeanors under existing law to courts of common pleas where they will be handled as felonies and offenders could be subjected to more serious sanctions.  As a result, municipalities may shed some of their annual criminal justice system expenditures related to investigating, adjudicating, prosecuting, defending (if indigent), and sanctioning certain offenders.  The number of offenders, however, that could be affected in this manner in any given municipal criminal justice system annually appears likely to be relatively small.  Assuming that were true, then any decrease in the annual operating costs of any given municipal criminal justice system seems unlikely to exceed minimal.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, a minimal expenditure decrease means an estimated annual reduction of no more than $5,000 for any affected municipal criminal justice system.

·        Court cost and fine revenues.  As noted, the bill may shift certain cases handled by county courts and municipal courts (which handle misdemeanors) into courts of common pleas (which handle felonies), which creates a potential loss of court cost and fine revenue for municipalities.  Conversely, it creates the possibility that counties may gain court cost and fine revenue.  It is also possible that offenders may be convicted of a more serious felony offense and subsequently fined higher amounts than would otherwise have been the case under current law and sentencing practices.  As the number of affected criminal cases appears likely to be relatively small, the amount of annual court cost and fine revenue that municipalities might lose and counties might gain would be no more than minimal.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, minimal in the context of revenues means an estimated gain or loss of no more than $5,000 per year for any affect local jurisdiction.

·        Testing for specified contagious diseases.  It appears that law enforcement officers who have incidents such as those that would be covered by the bill are already being tested for contagious diseases.  Thus, the bill should not result in new expenditures for any local jurisdictions that would be involved with paying for these tests.

 


 

Detailed Fiscal Analysis

 

Overview of the bill

 

For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, the bill most notably:

 

·        Expands the existing offense of "harassment by an inmate," which it renames "harassment with a bodily substance," to additionally prohibit a person, with intent to harass, annoy, threaten, or alarm a law enforcement officer, from causing or attempting to cause the law enforcement officer to come into contact with a bodily substance.

 

Sentences and fines

 

Table 1 below summarizes the existing sentences and fines, unchanged by the bill, for violating certain felony offense levels generally.  Under current law, depending upon the circumstances, a violation of the existing harassment prohibition is either a felony of the third or fifth degree.  Under the bill, depending upon the circumstances, a violation of the additional prohibitions is either a felony of the third or fifth degree.

 

Table 1

Existing Sentences and Fines for Felonies Generally

Offense Level

Maximum Fine

Prison Term

Felony of the 3rd degree

$10,000

1-5 years definite

Felony of the 5th degree

$2,500

6-12 months definite

 

Charging with harassment with a bodily substance

 

Based on LSC fiscal staff's research, it seems most likely that a violation of one of the prohibitions added by the bill would most likely occur under a circumstance in which an individual was already facing arrest and prosecution, including for, at a minimum, an offense against the public peace or against justice and administration, for example, for the offense of disorderly conduct or resisting arrest.  Although generally a minor misdemeanor, in this context, the penalty for disorderly conduct is likely to enhance to a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.  Violating the prohibition against resisting arrest is either a misdemeanor of the second degree, a misdemeanor of the first degree, or a felony of the fourth degree.

 

Thus, rather than creating new criminal cases, arguably, the prohibitions added by the bill will primarily permit a prosecuting attorney to stack more charges against an individual and possibly secure a more serious punishment than might otherwise have occurred under current law.

 

Local fiscal effects

 

Criminal cases generally

 

The bill will affect county and municipal criminal justice systems in at least two ways.  First, some persons whose criminal conduct would have been processed as a misdemeanor case may face the possibility that a similar case in the future could be processed as a felony case.  Second, some offenders who would likely have been prosecuted and sanctioned under existing law for a felony offense will face a potentially more serious punishment resulting from the bill’s additional prohibitions.  As of this writing, it appears that the number of affected criminal cases in any given local criminal justice system annually will be relatively small. 

 

Criminal justice system expenditures

 

One notable local effect of the bill may be to shift criminal cases that would have been handled by municipal courts and county courts as misdemeanors under existing law to courts of common pleas where they will be handled as felonies and offenders could be subjected to more serious sanctions.  As a result, municipalities may shed some of their annual criminal justice system expenditures related to investigating, adjudicating, prosecuting, defending (if indigent), and sanctioning certain offenders.  Conversely, counties could experience an increase in their annual criminal justice system expenditures, as felonies are typically more time-consuming and expensive to resolve and the local sanctioning costs can be higher as well.

 

The number of offenders, however, that could be affected in this manner in any given county or municipal criminal justice system annually appears likely to be relatively small.  Assuming that were true, then any decrease in the annual operating costs of any given municipal criminal justice system and any related increase in the annual operating costs of any given county criminal justice system seems unlikely to exceed minimal.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, a minimal expenditure increase or decrease means an estimated annual cost or reduction of no more than $5,000 for any affected county or municipal criminal justice system.

 

Court cost and fine revenues

 

As noted, one effect of the bill may be to shift certain cases handled by county courts and municipal courts (which handle misdemeanors) into courts of common pleas (which handle felonies), which creates a potential loss of court cost and fine revenue for municipalities.  Conversely, it creates the possibility that counties may gain court cost and fine revenue.  It is also possible that offenders may be convicted of a more serious felony offense and subsequently fined higher amounts than would otherwise have been the case under current law and sentencing practices.  As the number of affected criminal cases appears likely to be relatively small, the amount of annual court cost and fine revenue that municipalities might lose and counties might gain would be no more than minimal.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, minimal in the context of revenues means an estimated gain or loss of no more than $5,000 per year for any affected local jurisdiction.

 

Testing for specified contagious disease

It appears that law enforcement officers who have incidents such as those that would be covered by the bill are already being tested for contagious diseases.  Thus, the bill should not result in new expenditures for any local jurisdictions that would be involved with paying for these tests.

 

State fiscal effects

 

Incarceration expenditures

It is also possible as a result of the bill that, in the future:  (1) offenders that might not otherwise have been prison-bound under current law and sentencing practices may be sentenced to a prison term, and (2) offenders that would have been prison-bound under current law and sentencing practices may be sentenced to a longer prison term.  Assuming all other conditions remain the same, either outcome theoretically at least increases the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's (DRC's) GRF-funded incarceration costs.  As the number of offenders that might be affected in either manner annually appears likely to be relatively small, any related increase in DRC's annual incarceration costs would be minimal at most.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, minimal means an estimated cost of less than $100,000 per year for the state.

Court cost revenues

If, as a result of the bill, an offender is convicted of a felony offense rather than a misdemeanor offense, then the state may gain locally collected court cost revenues that are deposited to the credit of the Victims of Crime/Reparations Fund (Fund 402).  As the number of offenders that could be affected in this manner appears likely to be relatively small, the amount of court cost money that Fund 402 will gain annually is likely to be negligible.  For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, “negligible” means an estimated revenue gain of less than $1,000 per year.  It is also important to note that collecting court costs and fines from certain offenders can be problematic, especially in light of the fact that many are indigent.

 

 

 

LSC fiscal staff:  Laura A. Potts, Budget Analyst

 

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