Fiscal Note & Local Impact Statement

123 rd General Assembly of Ohio

Ohio Legislative Budget Office: a nonpartisan agency providing fiscal research for the Ohio General Assembly

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E-mail: BudgetOffice@LBO.STATE.OH.US ² Internet Web Site:http://www.lbo.state.oh.us/

BILL:

Sub. H.B. 350 (LSC 123 0749-1)

DATE:

March 14, 2000

STATUS:

In House Criminal Justice

SPONSOR:

Rep. Olman

LOCAL IMPACT STATEMENT REQUIRED:

No —

Minimal cost

 


CONTENTS:

Prohibits a person from surgically silencing a dog known to be vicious or from possessing a vicious dog if the person has reason to believe the dog was surgically silenced

 

State Fiscal Highlights

 

STATE FUND

FY 2001

FY 2002

FUTURE YEARS

General Revenue Fund

     Revenues

Potential negligible gain

Potential negligible gain

Potential negligible gain

     Expenditures

Potential minimal increase

Potential minimal increase

Potential minimal increase

Reparations Fund

Revenues

Potential negligible gain

Potential negligible gain

Potential negligible gain

Expenditures

- 0 -

- 0 -

- 0 -

Note: The state fiscal year is July 1 through June 30. For example, FY 2001 is July 1, 2000 – June 30, 2001.

 

·        This bill could lead to a minimal annual increase in the costs of incarceration and post-release control incurred by the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for any individuals sent to prison for violating the prohibitions stipulated in the bill. The increased costs would stem both from the possibility that a few offenders would receive longer prison terms and a few additional offenders may be sent to prison who might not otherwise under current law.

·        An extremely small amount of locally collected court cost revenue may be generated annually for the state GRF and the Reparations Fund, a.k.a. Victims of Crime Fund.

Local Fiscal Highlights

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

FY 2000

FY 2001

FUTURE YEARS

Counties

     Revenues

Potential minimal gain

Potential minimal gain

Potential minimal gain

     Expenditures

Potential minimal increase

Potential minimal increase

Potential minimal increase

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

 

·        Counties may realize at most minimal annual gains in fine and court cost revenues collected from convictions arising out of the new third and fourth degree felony offenses created by the bill.

·        Counties may also incur additional minimal costs associated with the prosecution, adjudication, and sanctioning of the few criminal matters that will be affected or created by the bill’s dog silencing and dog-fighting provisions.


 

Detailed Fiscal Analysis

 

This bill criminalizes the procedure of surgically silencing or debarking a vicious dog as well as the possession of a vicious dog, which there is reason to believe has been silenced. Any violation would be a fourth degree felony. The bill also expands the definition of “deadly weapon” to include vicious dogs that have been debarked and expands the penalty for dog-fighting offenses. Dog-fighting is already a fourth degree felony in Ohio regardless of the number of convictions. This bill will make each offense, subsequent to a first conviction, a third degree felony.

 

  Currently in the State of Ohio, surgically silencing a dog does not violate any law or canon of ethics governing doctors of veterinary medicine (DVM). Some of the DVMs comprising the Ohio Veterinary Medical Board (OVMB) relate that debarking is a very infrequent procedure involving perhaps less than one tenth of one percent of all dogs seen during office visits. Most requests for this procedure involve dogs that bark incessantly thereby bothering neighbors or from laboratories utilizing dogs in research. Even though the requests for the debarking procedures are rare, in these instances the dogs are noisy and not necessarily vicious. Many DVMs refuse to perform this procedure citing cruelty and other effective means to curtail barking. Additionally, the bill creates an affirmative defense for DVMs facing prosecution. If, prior to the procedure, they obtain a signed waiver from the dog’s owner attesting that the dog is not vicious, the waiver is an acceptable defense. This does not apply to Pit Bulls, which are considered vicious by law. These factors, along with the likely deterrent effect of felony sanctions, tend to confirm that the likely number of prosecutions for performing such a silencing procedure, on vicious dogs, will be very small.

 

More prosecutions will likely arise from the possession of a vicious dog that is known by the owner to have been silenced. Such dogs are utilized as sentries on premises where illegal activities are conducted, and are sometimes encountered by police as a hazard to the performance of their duties. If police raids lead to multiple count indictments for drugs, weapons or other serious infractions, the presence of silenced vicious dogs could be added to the list of charges. In these cases, however, violations of the prohibitions in this bill would not create new criminal cases for which the local criminal justice system would incur prosecution and adjudication costs. The silenced dog infraction would actually be one of several likely charges, thus it is very difficult to estimate any isolated cost imposed by just this one charge.

 

Silenced vicious dogs are also likely to be associated with dog-fighting activities. Debarked fighting dogs can be surreptitiously penned in locations otherwise unavailable should barking reveal their presence. Dog-fighting is currently a fourth degree felony on Ohio and to the extent that arrests are made, additional charges may emerge if silenced dogs are found. According to Lucas County Dog Warden Tom Skeldon, an authority in this area, silenced fighting dogs are occasionally discovered by accident across Ohio. Given the current paucity of arrests and convictions for dog-fighting, the number of new arrests and prosecutions for possession of silenced dogs will likely be small.

 

Effect on State Revenues and Expenditures 

 

In terms of the state’s GRF, when an individual is convicted of or pleads guilty to a felony, the court is generally required to collect an additional $11 in court costs (in addition to local court costs set by the local jurisdictions), which is paid to the state.  This GRF money has generally been used to assist public defender offices with indigent defense costs. If, as we previously alluded, there are very few additional criminal cases created as a result of this bill, then the amount of additional annual revenue generated for the state will be extremely small.

 

In terms of the Reparations Fund, when an individual is convicted of or pleads guilty to a felony, the court is generally required to collect an additional $30 in court costs, which is then paid into the Reparations Fund, a.k.a. Victims of Crime Fund. As previously mentioned, if there are very few additional criminal cases created as a result of this bill, then the amount of additional annual revenue generated for the Reparations Fund will be extremely small.

 

            As a result of the bill, a few individuals convicted of offenses outlined in the bill may be incarcerated in the state prison system and a few offenders currently receiving prison terms may experience longer lengths of stay. Those convicted of a fourth degree felony could receive a prison term of between 6 and 18 months to be specifically determined by the court. A third degree felony conviction for repeated dog-fighting offenses could yield a sentence of between 1 and 5 years. Given the fact that the number of affected prison-bound offenders will in all likelihood be very small, any additional annual incarceration and post-release control costs incurred by the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) are likely to be minimal at most. For those few receiving prison time, the daily cost to the state is $53.36 per prisoner. Upon release from prison, all of these offenders would then be subject to a period of post-release control, which can last up to one year for a fourth degree felon and up to three years for a third degree felon.

 

Effect on Local Revenues and Expenditures

 

                Additional court cost and fine revenue may be generated for the counties, but as there will most likely be very few additional criminal cases created by the bill, the amount of revenue generated annually will likely be very small. Since the expected number of new criminal cases generated or affected by the bill will be fairly small, there should be very little in the way of additional annual fiscal burdens placed on county criminal justice systems (law enforcement, courts, prosecutors, public defenders, and jails).


 

Synopsis of Fiscal Changes

 

The two key differences in the fiscal effects of the current version of the bill and its preceding version (As Introduced) are bulleted below.

 

DVM Prosecutions

·        The As Introduced version of this bill may have resulted in more prosecutions of DVMs for surgically silencing vicious dogs. There was no provision for a waiver that could be signed by the dog’s owner attesting that the dog is not vicious. Absent such an affirmative defense, more DVMs could have faced arrest and prosecution, thus negligibly increasing county criminal justice system costs and raising the possibility that offending DVMs could face a prison term. Counties may also, as a result, have collected a bit more fine and court cost revenue, and the state may have collected a negligible amount of additional court cost revenue as well.

 

Dog-fighting Convictions

·        In the As Introduced version of the bill, repeated dog-fighting convictions remain a fourth degree felony as stipulated on ORC 959.99. As a practical matter, this meant that existing cases would have been unaffected and, as a result, county and state revenues and expenditures would have been unaffected as well. The substitute bill would make subsequent dog-fighting convictions a third degree felony, which would increase county criminal justice processing costs and send a few more offenders to the state prison system thereby increasing annual incarceration costs. Enhancing the penalty also raises the possibility of generating greater annual fine revenue for counties.

 

 

 

 

 

q LBO staff:  Joseph W. Rogers, Budget/Policy Analyst

 

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