SCS/SB 140 - Under this act, courts disposing of criminal nonsupport cases may be established by any circuit court. Such court shall have the authority to refer defendants to education, vocational or employment training, substance abuse treatment, or work programs. After successful completion of a court-ordered treatment or training program or commencement of support payments, the defendant may have the charges, petition, or penalty against him or her dismissed, reduced, or modified.
Each circuit shall establish conditions for referral to the court and each participant must be a nonviolent person. Any proceeding accepted by the court must be upon agreement of the parties. Any of the program's staff reports shall not be admissible as evidence in the underlying case; however, termination from the court program may be considered in sentencing or disposition of the case. Court staff shall be provided access to government records relevant to the participant's supervision.
An ten-member Criminal Nonsupport Courts Coordinating Commission shall be established to coordinate and allocate resources made available through the newly created Criminal Nonsupport Court Resources Fund.
Under this act, criminal nonsupport shall be a class A misdemeanor unless the total arrearage is in excess of an aggregate of twelve monthly payments, in which case, it is a class D felony. Currently, the crime is a class D felony if the person owes more than $5,000 or has failed to pay six months of payments within the last twelve-month period.
The crime of nonsupport shall apply whether a child's paternity has been established through an administrative order or judicial order. Inability to provide support for good cause shall be an affirmative defense that must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence.
If the defendant is placed on probation or parole, he or she may be ordered to begin payment of current support as well as satisfy the arrearages. If he or she fails to pay, probation or parole may be revoked and an appropriate sentence shall be imposed.
During any period that a nonviolent defendant is incarcerated for criminal nonsupport, the court, if the defendant is ready, willing, and able to be gainfully employed, may place the defendant on work release in order to satisfy the defendant's obligation to pay support if the person meets the criteria established by the department of corrections. The arrearages shall be satisfied as outlined in the collection agreement.
Beginning August 28, 2009, every nonviolent first and second-time offender currently incarcerated for criminal nonsupport, who has not previously been placed on probation or parole, may be considered for parole or work release.
This act is similar to HB 1652 (2006).
SUSAN HENDERSON MOORE