HB1520 (2012) Detail

Prohibiting law enforcement officers from failing to investigate criminal complaints against public servants.


HB 1520-FN – AS INTRODUCED

2012 SESSION

12-2628

09/04

HOUSE BILL 1520-FN

AN ACT prohibiting law enforcement officers from failing to investigate criminal complaints against public servants.

SPONSORS: Rep. Comerford, Rock 9; Rep. Cohn, Merr 6; Rep. Watrous, Merr 12; Rep. L. Jones, Straf 1; Rep. Itse, Rock 9

COMMITTEE: Criminal Justice and Public Safety

ANALYSIS

This bill makes it a misdemeanor for a law enforcement officer to fail to investigate a criminal complaint against a public servant.

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

12-2628

09/04

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twelve

AN ACT prohibiting law enforcement officers from failing to investigate criminal complaints against public servants.

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

1 Official Oppression; Failure to Investigate Criminal Complaints Against Public Servants. Amend RSA 643:1 to read as follows:

643:1 Official Oppression. A public servant, as defined in RSA 640:2, II, is guilty of a misdemeanor if, with a purpose to benefit himself or another or to harm another, he knowingly commits an unauthorized act which purports to be an act of his office; or knowingly refrains from performing a duty imposed on him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office; or, if a law enforcement officer, fails to investigate a criminal complaint against a public servant.

2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2013.

LBAO

12-2628

12/06/11

HB 1520-FN - FISCAL NOTE

AN ACT prohibiting law enforcement officers from failing to investigate criminal complaints against public servants.

FISCAL IMPACT:

      The Judicial Branch, Judicial Council, Department of Justice, Department of Safety, New Hampshire Association of Counties and New Hampshire Municipal Association state this bill may increase state, county and local expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2013 and each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on state, county, and local revenue.

METHODOLOGY:

    The Judicial Branch states this bill amends the official oppression statute to add to the offense of official oppression the failure of a law enforcement officer to investigate a criminal complaint against a public servant. This failure would be a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor can be either class A or class B, with the presumption being a class B misdemeanor. The Branch has no information to estimate how many charges would be brought as a result of the changes contained in the bill to determine the fiscal impact on expenditures. The Branch states a class A misdemeanor will cost $59.11 per case in FY 2013 and $61.31 per case in FY 2014 and each year thereafter, and a class B misdemeanor will cost $43.19 per case in FY 2013 and $44.54 per case in FY 2014 and each year thereafter based on case weight information from the last needs assessment completed in 2005. The possibility of appeals increases the likelihood the fiscal impact on the Branch will exceed $10,000.

    The Judicial Council states to the extent an unspecified misdemeanor results in a misdemeanor offense where the right to counsel exists this bill may result in an indeterminable increase in general fund expenditures. 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 capped at $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 Department of Justice states this bill would increase the workload of the Department’s public integrity unit which investigates and prosecutes crimes committed by public officials in their official capacity. The Department regularly receives complaints of alleged criminal acts by public officials, the content of which do not describe conduct amounting to a crime. The Department does not investigate those complaints. The Department also receives complaints that it refers elsewhere for investigation. This bill could be interpreted as imposing an affirmative duty to investigate those complaints. Additionally, the Department anticipates this bill will generate a substantial increase in the number of complaints against law enforcement officials for failure to investigate criminal complaints against public servants. The Department estimates it will need to add two full-time investigators and one part-time secretary (29 hours a week) to address the increased workload. The estimated cost for the additional personnel is:

     

    FY 2013

    FY 2014

    FY 2015

    FY 2016

    Investigators (2 full-time positions)

    $50,668

    $107,946

    $114,556

    $121,166

    Secretary (1 part-time position)

    11,076

    22,153

    22,982

    22,982

    Benefits

    27,120

    58,846

    63,858

    69,181

    Equipment

    9,000

    0

    0

    0

    Current Expenses

    1,500

    1,500

    1,500

    1,500

    Technology - Software

    3,600

    0

    0

    0

    Total

    $102,964

    $190,445

    $202,896

    $214,829

    This bill does not authorize or provide an additional appropriation for a position.

    The Department of Safety states this bill will result in indeterminable increased costs to a law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the location where the alleged crime occurred. The Department states the state police will be impacted as additional trooper time will be spent investigating allegations of crimes against public servants.

    The New Hampshire Association of Counties states to the extent more individuals are charged, convicted, and sentenced to incarceration in a county correctional facility, the counties may have increased expenditures. The Association is unable to determine the number of individuals who might be charged, convicted or incarcerated as a result of this bill to determine an exact fiscal impact. The average annual cost to incarcerate an individual in a county correctional facility is approximately $35,000. There is no impact on county revenue.

    The New Hampshire Municipal Association states this bill will increase local expenditures by an indeterminable amount. The Association states the number of investigations conducted by local law enforcement officers may increase, regardless of merit. The Association does not have any information to determine how many additional investigations would be performed to provide the exact fiscal impact of this bill.

Links

HB1520 at GenCourtMobile

Action Dates

Date Body Type

Bill Text Revisions

HB1520 Revision: 21542 Date: Dec. 14, 2011, midnight

Docket