Report asks legislature to update criminal codes and statutes

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With nearly 1,500 statutes in the state criminal code that requires a felony criminal penalty, about 30 percent of them haven’t led to an arrest in over 15 years, according to a new report by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission.

Created in 1982, the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission brings together criminal justice practitioners across the state to help coordinate the justice system. Currently, about 32 of the 49 sections of criminal code have a penalty attached to them that relates to a felony.

Director of the commission Andrew LeFevre explains that there has been a shift away from what is known as common law which includes felonies like theft, robbery, murder and bribery. What’s focused on in this report are crimes dealing with areas like licensing and the environment that have penalties attached.

“There are 30 clean air statutes that haven’t been charged in the last 15 years,” LeFevre says. “We’re hoping this report will spar a dialogue at the legislature with policymakers and those folks who are familiar with this area. [They can] sit back down and look. This may have been necessary at some point, but do we still really need them or is there something else we should be doing?”

Bribery is a common penalty that is spread throughout the criminal codes, LeFevre explains. While bribery as a whole should be kept in, there are some areas where it hasn’t been used for over a decade like bribing racing officials. On the other hand, those who are involved in sporting events and they are guilt of bribery are going against Title XIII which is something that is more regularly used.

Why should the statutes be removed if it’s not hurting anyone for being in there? It’s additional information for prosecutors to memorize on top of the federal criminal codes they have to know as well.

“There’s an interest in this from prosecutors,” LeFevre says. “They want to have a clean criminal code that they can utilize. It’s not very reasonable to have a person walk own a street and keep in mind 1500 felonies that they may break which is just the state level, not the federal on top of it.”

The report has been released to everyone in the legislature, and the commission has plans on discussing it with them with hopes of something being passed in the the interim of this year and the next.

Andrew LeFevre: Director, Arizona Criminal Justice Commission

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