Bill Text: NH SB237 | 2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Relative to the office of cost containment.

Spectrum: Moderate Partisan Bill (Democrat 9-1)

Status: (Engrossed) 2019-09-18 - Subcommittee Work Session: 10/03/2019 01:00 pm Legislative Office Building 208 [SB237 Detail]

Download: New_Hampshire-2019-SB237-Introduced.html

SB 237-FN - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2019 SESSION

19-0947

04/06

 

SENATE BILL 237-FN

 

AN ACT relative to the office of cost containment.

 

SPONSORS: Sen. Chandley, Dist 11; Sen. Rosenwald, Dist 13; Sen. Hennessey, Dist 5; Sen. Levesque, Dist 12; Sen. Cavanaugh, Dist 16; Sen. French, Dist 7; Sen. Feltes, Dist 15; Rep. M. Murray, Hills. 22; Rep. Rodd, Merr. 6; Rep. Radhakrishman, Hills. 22

 

COMMITTEE: Judiciary

 

─────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────

 

ANALYSIS

 

This bill amends the procedure for determining an indigent defendant's ability to pay for services rendered by court-appointed counsel in a criminal case and provides that a repayment obligation shall only apply to a defendant who has been convicted or a juvenile who has been found delinquent.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

19-0947

04/06

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nineteen

 

AN ACT relative to the office of cost containment.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  Adequate Representation for Indigent Defendants in Criminal Cases; Repayment.  RSA 604-A:9, I, I-a, I-b, and I-c are repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

I.(a)  Any adult defendant or juvenile respondent who has been assigned counsel or a public defender shall be subject to an order by the court, pursuant to this section, regarding payment to the state for counsel fees and expenses paid by the state on behalf of the defendant or juvenile, and regarding payment of an administrative service assessment.  Any payment obligation shall apply only to a defendant who has been convicted or a juvenile who has been found delinquent.

(b)  Upon entering a judgment of conviction or a finding of delinquency, and the issuance of sentence or disposition, the court shall enter a separate written order setting forth the reasons for the court's conclusion regarding the financial ability of the defendant or the juvenile, including any person liable for the support of the juvenile pursuant to RSA 604-A:2-a, to make payment of counsel fees and expenses, and administrative service assessment.  In its discretion, the court may conduct an ability-to-pay hearing to assist in its determination.  If the court finds that there is an ability to pay some or all of the counsel fees and expenses and the assessment, either presently or in the future, it shall order payment in such amounts and upon such terms and conditions it finds equitable; any payment obligation shall not commence until the conviction and sentence or the finding of delinquency and disposition has become final.  If the court finds that there is no such ability to pay, it shall so order, and any payment obligation shall terminate.

(c)  In assessing ability to pay upon or after the entering of a judgment of conviction and the issuance of a sentence, neither the court nor the office of cost containment shall consider income that is exempt from execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process under any state or federal law, and shall be reduced only by the amount of expenses which are reasonably necessary for the maintenance of the defendant and his dependents.

(d)  If the court determines that the defendant is financially unable to repay any fees and expenses to the state, the repayment obligation shall be waived.  A copy of each order finding that the defendant has an ability to pay fees and assessments shall be forwarded to the commissioner of the department of administrative services and the office of cost containment.  An order waiving the repayment obligation shall not be forwarded.  Neither the commissioner of the department of administrative services nor the office of cost containment shall have the authority to alter the court's determination that a repayment obligation is waived.

(e)  After the judgment of conviction is entered and a repayment order is issued, a defendant subject to a repayment order under this section may, if his or her circumstances have changed since the date of the court's order, petition the court for relief from the obligation imposed by this section, which may be granted upon a finding that the defendant is unable to comply with the terms of the court's order or any modification of the order by the court.

(f)  The maximum payment amount for counsel fees and expenses shall be according to a schedule established by the administrator of the office of cost containment with the approval of the administrative justices of the courts.  Any payment obligation for fees and expenses shall not exceed the amount of the state's flat rate payable to a contract attorney as established pursuant to RSA 604-B.  The administrative service assessment shall not exceed 10 percent of the counsel fees and expenses.  Payment shall be made to the office of cost containment unless the defendant or juvenile is placed on probation or sentenced to a period of conditional discharge, in which case repayment shall be made to the state through the department of corrections.  Any payment obligation attributable to a juvenile shall terminate when the juvenile reaches the age of majority, except when the juvenile has been certified and tried as an adult.

(g)  In a case where counsel has been appointed, and a repayment order issued, the defendant shall be required to notify the clerk of the court and the office of cost containment of each change of mail address and actual street address.  Whenever notice to the defendant is required, notice to the last mail address on file shall be deemed notice to and binding on the defendant.

2  Adequate Representation for Indigent Defendants in Criminal Cases; Repayment.  Amend RSA 604-A:9, II to read as follows:

II.  All petitions for court appointed counsel shall bear the following words in capital letters:

I UNDERSTAND THAT I MAY BE REQUIRED TO REPAY THE SERVICES PROVIDED TO ME BY COURT APPOINTED COUNSEL IF I AM CONVICTED UNLESS THE COURT FINDS THAT I AM OR WILL BE FINANCIALLY UNABLE TO PAY.

3  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

 

LBAO

19-0947

1/22/19

 

SB 237-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT relative to the office of cost containment.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [    ] County               [    ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

 Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

Potential Decrease of $2,000,000

Potential Decrease of $2,000,000

Potential Decrease of $2,000,000

Potential Decrease of $2,000,000

  Expenditures

$0

$0

$0

$0

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [    ] Other

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill repeals and reenacts provisions relative to adult criminal defendants or juvenile respondents reimbursing the costs of representation by appointed public defenders or assigned counsel. Such repayment obligation shall now apply only to a defendant who has been convicted or a juvenile who has been found delinquent.

 

The Department of Administrative Services Office of Cost Containment (OCC) states this bill will decrease revenue received by the OCC and deposited into the general fund by an indeterminable amount. OCC indicates it does not have information on the number or percentage of cases resulting in acquittal versus conviction.  OCC forecasts the resulting unknown decreased payments or cases to be processed or administered will not eliminate the administrative requirements of the agency to process transactions.  The following data was provided:

  • The OCC collected and processed $2.2 million in FY 2017 and $2.1 million in 2018.
  • Caseloads are approximately 20,000 per year or 1,600 per month.
  • Approximately 200 payments of varying amounts each day are processed.

 

The Judicial Branch estimates the fiscal impact to the Branch would be less than $10,000  per year as a result of this bill.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Department of Administrative Services and Judicial Branch

feedback