SEVERAL 2014 LEGISLATIVE BILLS SEEK TO AMEND ALABAMA CRIMINAL LAW

The 2014 Legislature Is Considering A Number Of Bills Affecting Alabama Criminal Law

Increased Penalties for Gambling Crimes

Under this proposed bill a number of gambling crimes, as defined in Alabama criminal law, which presently are considered class a misdemeanors will be amended to make the crimes class C felonies. The specific crimes included in the bill are those of promoting gambling, conspiracy to promote gambling,  and possession of a gambling device.

Senate Bill 109

Possession of Marijuana for Personal Use

Under existing Alabama criminal law, possession of marijuana for personal use is a class a misdemeanor, punishable by jail time of not more than one year and/or a fine of not more than $6000.00.    The present Alabama statute does not define by quantity how much a person may possess for personal use. The determination of whether marijuana is for personal use is a subjective one based upon the totality of circumstances. Nevertheless, in many cases the determination is made simply by looking at the amount of marijuana possessed. Under this proposed bill will always now defined unlawful possession of marijuana in the first-degree as possession of over 1 ounce of marijuana, and unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree as possession of 1 ounce of marijuana or less.

The first offense for unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree would be made in violation, as opposed to a misdemeanor, under the statute. This means that a first offense for unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree would be punishable by fine only, and no jail time. The bill also proposes that any conviction for unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree shall not appear a person’s criminal record.

House Bill 76

Regulation of Traffic Schools / Defensive Driving Schools

Under present Alabama law there is little or no regulation or oversight for defensive driving school’s, otherwise known as traffic schools. This proposed bill provides for requirements oversight and approval of traffic schools by the Administrative Office of Courts.   Presently each jurisdiction has its own requirements as to whether or not someone receiving a traffic ticket may attend a defensive driving school and have the ticket dismissed. In most cases, where the person has a clean driving history and has never gone to a defensive driving school in the past, they are allowed an opportunity to attend defensive driving school and have ticket dismissed. Under the new statute this would be regulated statewide. The statute provides that an order to be eligible for a defensive driving school disposition of the ticket person must have a valid  Alabama drivers license, have not been convicted of any traffic offense within the past three years and cannot have attended a defensive driving school in the past three years. Additionally the defendant  with a traffic ticket would have to sign an affidavit stating that it is their first conviction more than three years and that they are not in the process of taking a defensive driving course.   Under the proposed law the defendant be required to pay all costs and fees otherwise associated with conviction on traffic ticket, but would also have to pay an additional fee to the Administrative Office of Courts.

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