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SB 966 would amend the Alcoholic Beverage Code to create a defense to prosecution for an offense of minor consumption or possession of an alcoholic beverage if the individual is reporting the sexual assault of the minor or another person, or is the victim of a sexual assault reported by another person. A floor amendment in the Senate clarified that a minor would only be able to raise this defense if they were actually in violation at the time the of the alleged sexual assault which they report or are a victim of. This would prevent a minor from raising the defense to prosecution for a subsequent violation of alcohol laws at a time other than when they witnessed or were victim of a sexual assault.
The bill would also stipulate that a minor who commits a sexual assault that is reported under this new subsection is not entitled to its protections.
We understand that this bill is aimed at clearing up a potential barrier to reporting a sexual assault by making it possible for a person who is a victim of an assault, or who witnesses an assault, to report without fear of being prosecuted for underage drinking even though they may be in violation of underage drinking laws at the time. This supports personal responsibility by making it easier for a person to report a sexual assault. On the other hand this offends personal responsibility by allowing a person to get off the hook for breaking one law by virtue of reporting that someone else broke another law, regardless of the veracity of the report. For these reasons we remain neutral.
We would support an amendment to stipulate that a person is not entitled to raise the defense provided under this legislation if it turns out they made a false report.