Topic:
RAPE; SENTENCING;
Location:
RAPE;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report


The Connecticut General Assembly

OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH




September 20, 1996 96-R-1233

TO:

FROM: George Coppolo, Chief Attorney

RE: Sentence for Statutory Rape

You asked whether it is possible for a person sentenced for statutory rape to five years, suspended after three, to be made eligible for early release by a judge after serving only 10 months in prison.

SUMMARY

It is possible for a person sentenced to three years in prison for “statutory rape” to be made eligible for early release by a judge after serving only 10 months in prison. But it is very unusual.

Normally a person sentenced to three years in prison would be eligible to ask for early release on parole after serving 50% of the sentence in prison. Persons imprisoned for statutory rape are eligible for parole release, and because force is not an element of or involved in a statutory rape, the recently enacted law requiring violent offenders to serve at least 85% of their sentences behind bars would not apply.

STATUTORY RAPE

We do not have an offense called “statutory rape. ” But apparently the person you asked about was convicted of violating CGS 53a-71. A person commits this offense when he engages in sexual intercourse with another person who is 13 years old or older but under 16 years of age. There is no requirement that the offense involve force, compulsion, or threat of force. This offense is a class C felony. It requires the court to impose a mandatory minimum prison term of nine months. Beyond the mandatory minimum sentence, the offense carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, or a fine of up to $ 10,000, or both.

EARLY RELEASE

Normally, a person sentenced to a prison term of over two years can only be released before the end of his term by the parole board under parole board supervision (CGS 54-125a). But to be eligible for release on parole, an inmate must first serve at least half of his sentence in prison. Thus, a person sentenced to three years in prison would not be eligible to be considered for release on parole until he served at least 18 months in prison.

A person is not entitled to parole release. Rather he is eligible to ask the parole board, in its discretion, to release him from prison. The board may release an inmate only if it appears there is a reasonable probability that he will not commit another crime and the release is compatible with the welfare of society (CGS 54-125a).

But there is one way an inmate can get out of prison before serving at least 50% of his original sentence behind bars. The sentencing judge or court has the statutory authority to modify a sentence of three years or less at any time during the sentence's term (CGS 53a-39). This statute allows the sentencing court or judge, after a hearing and for good cause shown, to reduce the sentence, order the defendant discharged, or order the defendant discharged on probation for a period not to exceed the period to which he could have been originally sentenced.

Thus, the sentencing judge or court could order the immediate release of a person sentenced to three years for statutory rape after he served only 10 months. The release could be either with or without probation supervision. Or, the court could effectuate the early release of such an inmate in another way. Instead of ordering his release, the court could reduce his sentence to under two years. By law, the corrections commissioner is authorized to release inmates sentenced to less than two years in prison after they have served at least half of their sentence minus any good time they have earned (CGS 18-100c). Thus, if the court reduced the inmate's sentence to 20 months, he would immediately be eligible for release either to his home or to a halfway house or other similar program.

Even if the court reduced the inmate's sentence so that it was more than 20 months, he still might be eligible for release by the commissioner after only serving 10 months because: (1) an inmate's sentence is reduced by the amount of time spent in confinement prior to the trial and sentencing; and (2) a prisoner can earn good conduct credit (10 days for month served) toward satisfying his 50% requirement on a sentence of two years or less (CGS 18-98d; 18-7a, and 18-100d).

GC: pa