SB351 (2006) Detail

Declaring drowning as cruelty to animals.


02/02/06 0470s





AN ACT declaring drowning as cruelty to animals.

SPONSORS: Sen. Roberge, Dist 9; Sen. Barnes, Dist 17; Sen. Estabrook, Dist 21; Rep. Marshall Quandt, Rock 13; Rep. B. Richardson, Ches 5; Rep. N. Johnson, Straf 3; Rep. Villeneuve, Hills 18

COMMITTEE: Environment and Wildlife


This bill declares that drowning an animal is cruelty to animals.

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

02/02/06 0470s




In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Six

AN ACT declaring drowning as cruelty to animals.

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

1 Cruelty to Animals; Drowning Added. Amend RSA 644:8, III(b) to read as follows:

(b) Negligently beats, cruelly whips, tortures, mutilates, drowns, or in any other manner mistreats or causes to be mistreated any animal;

2 Cruelty to Animals; Drowning Added. Amend RSA 644:8, III-a to read as follows:

III-a. A person is guilty of a class B felony who purposely beats, cruelly whips, tortures, drowns, or mutilates any animal or causes any animal to be beaten, cruelly whipped, tortured, drowned, or mutilated.

3 Applicability. This act shall not apply to trappers licensed under RSA 214.

4 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2007.





AN ACT declaring drowning as cruelty to animals.


The Judicial Branch, Judicial Council and Departments of Justice and Corrections have stated this bill may increase state and county expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2007 and each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on local expenditures or state, county and local revenue.


The Judicial Branch stated this bill intends to make drowning an animal a criminal offense. If done negligently, it is an unspecified misdemeanor for the first offense, and a class B felony for a subsequent. If done purposely, it is a class B felony. RSA 644:8, III, (b), which is the statute covering negligent cruelty, already covers “in any other manner mistreats any animal.” Thus, even without the addition of the word “drowns.” The action of drowning an animal could be charged under the quoted language. As a result, this bill is unlikely to add any negligent cruelty cases. As for the purposeful cruelty in RSA 644:8, III, (a), which is a class B felony, the statute does not contain the catch-all phrase language quoted above. Thus, the addition of “drowns” and “drowned” in the statute may add new cases in the superior court where felonies are heard. In the past five fiscal years, the number of cruelty to animals’ charges in the superior court has ranged from four in 2003 to forty seven in 2002, with an average of twenty one. Adding drowning to the cruelty statute may increase these numbers, although it is not expected to increase by many. The Branch estimates the cost to the Judicial Branch of an average class B felony case is $296.88 in trial court. This cost does not consider the cost of appeals. The Branch is not able to estimate how many, if any, additional cases may be generated. However, the Branch does not anticipate the fiscal impact to exceed $10,000.

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 $756.25 per class B 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 $275 per case through disposition, plus $206.25 for each and every review hearing following disposition. Assigned counsel will be at the $60 per hour rate with a fee cap of $1,200. The fee cap may be waived upon motion filed with the court and approved in advance. Any case where a defendant has been found guilty may also result in appeals to either the superior court or 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. However, the Council anticipates very few new cases will be brought.

The Department of Justice stated this bill will have no fiscal impact on the Department as the crime is one that is prosecuted by the county attorneys or district court prosecutors. There may be some fiscal impact on the Department in instances when an appeal would be taken to the NH Supreme Court. The Department is unable to estimate how many appeals may occur; therefore no fiscal impact can be projected under these circumstances.

The Department of Corrections is unable to estimate the fiscal impact on the Department. The number of individuals who would be guilty of a class B felony under this bill cannot be predicted. The average annual cost of incarcerating an individual in the general prison population for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2005 was $28,143.


SB351 at GenCourtMobile

Action Dates

Date Body Type

Bill Text Revisions

SB351 Revision: 10348 Date: Jan. 21, 2010, midnight