HB 506-FN – AS INTRODUCED
HOUSE BILL 506-FN
This bill establishes a criminal penalty for knowingly making a false allegation of abuse or neglect.
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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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.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 Eleven
AN ACT relative to false allegations of child abuse.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
1 Determination of Parental Rights and Responsibilities. Amend RSA 461-A:6 by inserting after paragraph VII the following new paragraph:
VIII. If the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a parent has knowingly made false statements of child abuse as defined by RSA 169-C:3, II against the other parent to the department of health and human services, to the court, to any law enforcement agency, to any social services agency, or to any mandatory reporter of suspected child abuse as defined by RSA 169-C:29, then the accusing parent shall not be awarded primary residential custody of the children. This provision shall apply so long as the accused parent:
(a) Has never been convicted of any crime perpetrated against a child;
(b) Has no criminal convictions in the past 5 years for either alcohol abuse or the abuse of a controlled substance; and
(c) Has no criminal convictions for the trafficking of a controlled substance.
2 Child Protection Act; Penalty for False Swearing. Amend RSA 169-C:31 to read as follows:
169-C:31 Immunity From Liability; Penalty for False Swearing.
I. Anyone participating in good faith in the making of a report pursuant to this chapter is immune from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed. Any such participant has the same immunity with respect to participation in any investigation by the department or judicial proceeding resulting from such report.
II. It shall be a misdemeanor to knowingly make false statements of suspected child abuse as defined by RSA 169-C:3, II to the department, to any court, to any law enforcement agency, to any social services agency, or to any mandatory reporter of suspected child abuse as defined by RSA 169-C:29. The first offense shall be punishable by no less than 6 months probation and one year of mandatory counseling. Subsequent offenses shall be punishable by imprisonment for a period of 6 months.
3 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2012.
HB 506 FISCAL NOTE
AN ACT relative to false allegations of child abuse.
The Judicial Branch, Judicial Council, and New Hampshire Association of Counties state this bill will increase state and county expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2012 and in each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on local expenditures or on state, county and local revenue.
The Judicial Branch states the proposed bill would add RSA 461-A:6,VIII providing that a parent falsely accusing the other parent of child abuse shall not be awarded primary residential custody. The bill also adds RSA 169-C:31,II making false statements of suspected child abuse an unspecified misdemeanor. The Branch does not expect the addition of RSA 461-A:6, VIII to increase the number of cases in the courts, but it may add contentious issues to existing cases increasing the hearing time. The Branch cannot estimate how often these issues may arise or how many additional hours will result, but states the cost per hour of a judge is projected to be $112.02 in FY 2012 and $112.96 in FY 2013. The Branch has no information to estimate how many new class A or class B misdemeanors would be brought as a result of RSA 169-C:31,II. The Judicial Branch does, however, have information on the average cost of processing a class A or class B misdemeanor in the district court. The Branch states the average cost to the Branch of an average class A misdemeanor will be $60.03 in FY 2012 and $60.88 in FY 2013 and each year thereafter. The Branch states the average cost to the Branch of an average class B misdemeanor will be $43.58 in FY 2012 and $44.34 in FY 2013. However, the Branch notes the possibility of appeals increases the likelihood that the fiscal impact on the Branch will exceed $10,000.
The Judicial Council states this bill may result in an increase in state general fund expenditures for cases involving subsequent offenses. The Council states if an individual is found to be indigent, the flat fee of $275 per misdemeanor is charged by a public defender or contract attorney. If an assigned counsel attorney is used the fee is $60 per hour with a cap of $1,400 for a misdemeanor charge. The Council also states additional costs could be incurred if an appeal is filed. The public defender, contract attorney and assigned counsel rates for Supreme Court appeals is $2,000 per case, with many assigned counsel attorneys seeking permission to exceed the fee cap. Requests to exceed the fee cap are seldom granted. Finally, expenditures would increase if services other than counsel are requested and approved by the court during the defense of a case or during an appeal.
The New Hampshire Association of Counties states the average annual cost of incarceration in a county correctional facility is approximately $35,000. County expenditures would increase for any individuals convicted and sentenced to incarceration under this bill. The Association is unable to determine the number of individuals who might be sentenced and therefore cannot estimate the additional cost.
The Department of Health and Human Services stated the litigation of the truth or falsity of information provided would occur in the marital or criminal courts and the Department anticipates it would have limited involvement. The Department states this bill should have limited or no fiscal impact on the Department.