HB130 (2005) Detail

Relative to limiting the length of involuntary commitment.






AN ACT relative to limiting the length of involuntary commitment.

SPONSORS: Rep. P. Katsakiores, Rock 5; Rep. Griffin, Rock 4; Rep. G. Katsakiores, Rock 5; Rep. Dowling, Rock 5

COMMITTEE: Judiciary


This bill changes the limit of an order for involuntary commitment from 5 years to one year.

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.




In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Five

AN ACT relative to limiting the length of involuntary commitment.

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

1 Involuntary Commitment; Limitation of Order. Amend RSA 135-C:46 to read as follows:

135-C:46 Limitation of Order. No order made pursuant to RSA 135-C:45 for involuntary admission or any other type of treatment shall be valid for longer than [5 years] one year. For the order to be renewed, another judicial hearing shall be held pursuant to RSA 135-C:34-54.

2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2006.





AN ACT relative to limiting the length of involuntary commitment.


      The Judicial Branch and Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services state this bill will increase state and county expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2006 and each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on state, county and local revenue or local expenditures.


      The Judicial Branch assumed this bill would not be retroactive, therefore, the new maximum period of one year will apply to cases processed after January 1, 2006. As a result, the first increase in the number of cases heard will occur in FY 2007. The Office indicated the full impact of this bill would take place in FY 2011, when the last of the five-year orders expires. The Office stated there were 400 involuntary commitments in calendar year 2003, 43% were dismissed or resulted in commitments of less than one year, and this bill would affect the remaining 57%. The Department assumed the cases will be spread evenly throughout the year, and estimated the following additional non-emergency involuntary commitment cases:

                      FY 2007 FY 2008 FY 2009 FY 2010 FY 2011

      Additional Cases 97 243 310 342 356

      The Office assumes each case will require additional clerical and judicial time and related expenditures as follows:

      Clerical cost:

    Court Assistant II for 1 hour $ 15.47

      Postage for 6 mailings per case 6 x $0.37 2.22

      Judicial cost:

      Judge time ¾ hour 69.60

      Judicial support costs:

      Court Monitor time ½ hour 10.67

      Bailiff time ½ hour 4.67

      Total Cost per Case $102.08

      The Office estimated the costs per year for additional cases to be:

        FY 2007 FY 2008 FY 2009 FY 2010 Future Years

          $9,902 $24,805 $31,645 $34,911 $36,340

      The Department of Justice states it presently handles five civil commitment cases involving people found incompetent to stand trial on homicide charges. The Department indicated, on average, one of these cases is processed each year. The Department assumes this bill would require it to process all five cases every year. Preparation and litigation in these cases requires an average of 4 full days of an attorney’s time. In addition, the Department assumed that, based on a Supreme Court decision, commitments of individuals found not guilty by reason of insanity under RSA 651:11-a, would also be reduced from five years to one year. The Department determined there are 26 individuals who have been committed under RSA 651:11-a. Eleven of these individuals were found to have committed murder, and the remaining 14 cases would be handled by the county attorneys. Recommittal in these cases can take up to two weeks of an attorney’s time. The Criminal Justice Bureau currently averages two or three hearings for these cases each year, and expects this bill will result in nine additional cases per year. These cases can take up to two weeks of an attorney’s time and could increase the workload by 18 weeks for a full-time attorney. Because of the nature of these crimes, the Department expects the recommital efforts will continue for years and do not anticipate a reduction in these cases. The Department estimated the fiscal impact of this bill as follows:

            Attorney Salary $65,000

          Benefits @40% 26,000


            Divided by 52 weeks = $1,750 per week

      4 additional civil involuntary

      commitments per year under RSA 135-C.

      16 days = 3.2 weeks x $1,750 $ 5,600

      9 additional commitments under

      RSA 651:11-a .

      18 weeks x $1,750 31,500

      Estimated Annual Cost: $37,100

      FY 2006 Estimated Cost (½ year): $18,550

      The Department assumed these costs would grow by 3% in the future years.

      The Department of Health and Human Services indicated there were 375 commitment hearings in FY 2004 and the average length of commitment was 2.04 years. The Department estimated the average cost per hearing to be $995, including the following:

      Court appointed psychiatrist: $560

      Court appointed defense lawyer: 315

      Department of Health and Human Services

      Paralegal, LG 16, to prepare and file petitions: 40

      Department of Health and Human Services

      Lawyer, LG21, to draft and prosecute the petition: 80

      Total Cost $995

The Department indicated that reducing the length of commitment to one year would increase the number of hearings. The Department is not able to determine the number of additional hearings, but stated the number could increase to 750 per year in the next four or five years. Such an increase could eventually result in additional state expenditures of up to $375,000 per year. The Department stated a reduction in the length of involuntary commitments would not decrease the cost of providing mental health care, since the majority of people served receive care voluntarily.


HB130 at GenCourtMobile

Action Dates

Date Body Type

Bill Text Revisions

HB130 Revision: 8623 Date: Jan. 21, 2010, midnight