AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE CRIMINAL CODE RECODIFICATION COMMISSION

Summary

A model policy to address the counterintuitive codification of criminal offenses at the state level by establishing a recodification commission to assemble, and present to the legislature for amendment and potential adoption, a single, comprehensive criminal code.

AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE CRIMINAL CODE RECODIFICATION COMMISSION

Summary: A model policy to address the counterintuitive codification of criminal offenses at the state level by establishing a recodification commission to assemble, and present to the legislature for amendment and potential adoption, a single, comprehensive criminal code.

SEC. 1 | COMMISSION ESTABLISHED
There is established the Criminal Code Recodification Commission (hereinafter “[the] Commission”) within the [state name] Judicial Department’s Office of Court Administration {or equivalent}.

SEC. 2 | COMPOSITION
The Commission shall be composed of twenty-one members to be appointed as follows {note: composition may vary based on state constitutional structure, statutory schemes, or political realities}:

1. Four members of the Senate appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. At least one Senate member must be a member of the minority party at the time of the Commission’s creation.

A. Senate members may designate a member of their staff to represent them at meetings of the Commission, but the ability to vote on any matters before the Commission shall be reserved to appointed members.

2. Four members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. At least one House member must be a member of the minority party at the time of the Commission’s creation.

A. House members may designate a member of their staff to represent them at meetings of the Commission, but the ability to vote on any matters before the Commission shall be reserved to appointed members.

3. Two members appointed by the Governor.

4. The Lieutenant Governor, or the Lieutenant Governor’s designee, and one additional member appointed by the Lieutenant Governor.

5. Two sitting sheriffs or police department chiefs, of which one shall be appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the other appointed by the Speaker of the House.

6. Seven members appointed by the Chief Justice of the [state name] Supreme Court as follows:

A. A sitting superior court judge

B. A sitting intermediate appellate court judge

C. Two state penitentiary wardens

D. A sitting district attorney

E. A sitting public defender

F. A member of the private criminal defense bar

7. The Chair of the Commission will be selected by the Governor from among the appointed members.

SEC. 3 | DELIVERABLES OF THE COMMISSION
The Commission shall produce the following:

1. Within eighteen months from the effective date of this Act, a fully drafted, new, streamlined, comprehensive, orderly, and principled criminal code.

2. Official commentary appended to the new code explaining how it will operate. Said commentary shall identify, explain, and provide justification for changes in current law.

3. An offense grading table appended to the new code grouping all offenses covered by the new code by offense grade. Offenses shall be graded within existing sentencing classes.

SEC. 4 | MANDATE OF THE COMMISSION
In producing deliverables outlined in Sec.’s 3(1)–(3), the Commission shall:

1. Incorporate into the new code all major criminal offenses contained in existing law that the Commission has not chosen to exclude.

2. Include necessary provisions not contained in the current code, such as default mental state requirements as an essential element of criminal liability, a listing of affirmative defenses and their elements, and definitions of offenses and key terminology with corresponding citations to governing precedent when applicable or deemed helpful by the Commission.

3. Exclude from the new code unnecessary, duplicative, inconsistent, or unlawful provisions of current law. Note in commentary whether criminally enforceable provisions of current law that have been excluded from the code should remain available for civil enforcement through the levying of fines, or repealed altogether.

4. Use language and syntactical structure to make the law easier to understand and apply.

5. Ensure that criminal offenses are cohesive, rational, and consistent with one another.

6. Make recommendations regarding whether, and if so, what, limitations should be placed on the ability of administrative boards, agencies, local governments, appointed commissioners, or of other persons or entities to enact rules that will, pursuant to the enabling statute, be eligible for criminal enforcement.

7. Address any other matter deemed necessary by the Commission to carry out its legislative mandate.