HB 667-FN – AS INTRODUCED
HOUSE BILL 667-FN
This bill amends the definition of reckless conduct and sets forth circumstances where a vehicle may be considered a deadly weapon.
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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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Five
AN ACT relative to reckless conduct.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
1 Assault and Related Offenses; Reckless Conduct. Amend RSA 631:3, II to read as follows:
II. Reckless conduct is a class B felony if the person knowingly uses a deadly weapon as defined in RSA 625:11, V. All other reckless conduct is a misdemeanor.
2 New Paragraph; Assault and Related Offenses; Reckless Conduct. Amend RSA 631:3 by inserting after paragraph II the following new paragraph:
III. For the purposes of this section, no vehicle shall be considered a deadly weapon as defined in RSA 625:11, V, unless such vehicle is being operated by a person who is:
(a) Under the influence of alcohol or an illegal controlled substance; or
(b) Attempting to avoid capture by police in a high speed pursuit; or
(c) Knowingly using such vehicle in an attempt to cause serious injury or death to another.
3 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2006.
HB 667-FN - FISCAL NOTE
AN ACT relative to reckless conduct.
The Judicial Council, Department of Corrections, and Association of Counties state this bill may increase state and county expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2006 and each year thereafter. The Judicial Branch states this bill may decrease state expenditures 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 states this bill would amend RSA 631:3, the reckless conduct statute. The amendment adds “knowingly” to felony reckless conduct, which involves use of a deadly weapon. It also adds to the statute a section III defining when a vehicle can be considered a deadly weapon. This bill would shift an undetermined number of felony reckless conduct charges from the superior court to misdemeanor reckless conduct charges in the district court due to the addition of the state of mind of “knowingly”, and the tighter definition of a vehicle as a deadly weapon. In the past few years, there have been approximately 750 reckless conduct charges brought into the courts annually. Of which roughly one-third were in the superior court and two-thirds were in the district court. Since on a per charge basis it is less costly to prosecute a matter in the district court, where there are no jury trials, than in the superior court, where there are jury trials and where the penalties for a conviction are much greater, this bill may result in fiscal savings to the Judicial Branch. The amount of savings depends on how many, if any, reckless conduct prosecutions that previously would have been brought in the superior court, are now brought in the district court.
The Judicial Council assumes that any cases arising from the enactment of this bill for which the Indigent Defense Fund may be liable will, in the first instance, be handled by the public defender or contract attorney who accepts these cases on a fixed fee basis of $687.50 per felony charged. If an assigned counsel attorney must be used, the hourly rate of $60 with a fee cap of $3,000 will apply. If a motion to exceed the fee cap is approved and/or “services other than counsel” are approved, these will also be chargeable to the Indigent Defense Fund. Any charge within the criminal justice system, committed by a juvenile, will be compensated within the flat fee contract system of $250 per case through disposition, plus $187.50 for each and every review
hearing following disposition. Any case where a defendant has been found guilty may also result in appeals to either the superior court or to the supreme court, which would have a cost implication for indigent defense expenditures made by the state. The Council is unable to predict the number of cases which may result from the passage of this bill, and are unable to determine the exact fiscal impact at this time.
The Department of Corrections states the number of individuals that will be sentenced under this bill cannot be predicted at this time. The average annual cost of incarcerating an individual in the general prison population for FY 2004 was $27,533.
The Association of Counties states to the extent individuals are prosecuted the county may incur the cost of pre-trial detainment at the county department of corrections, as well as the cost of sentenced inmates under the new law. The average annual cost for counties to incarcerate inmates is $21,633.55. The Association states the total exposure to the counties would be dependent on the number of individuals convicted and sentenced under the new law, which cannot be determined at this time.
The Department of Justice states this bill will have no fiscal impact on their department.