Sentencing bill closer to passage

A key Senate panel Wednesday approved legislation that would give more flexibility to the state’s strict sentencing laws and help district attorneys prosecute child molestation cases.

The Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee unanimously approved House Bill 349, which has widespread support, after hearing from Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, the bill’s lead sponsor.

HB 349 would give judges limited discretion to depart from Georgia’s mandatory-minimum sentences, provided certain conditions are met in drug-trafficking cases and when prosecutors and defense attorneys reach agreements in serious felony cases. The bill also would allow certain child hearsay testimony to be presented in molestation trials.

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