Bill Text - HB1524 (2012)

Expanding the definition of official oppression.

Revision: Dec. 14, 2011, midnight






AN ACT expanding the definition of official oppression.

SPONSORS: Rep. L. Christiansen, Hills 27

COMMITTEE: Criminal Justice and Public Safety


This bill expands the definition of official oppression.

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.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

AN ACT expanding the definition of official oppression.

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

1 Purpose. The general court finds that part 1, article 8 of the New Hampshire constitution makes public officials at all times accountable to the people and mandates that “government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable and responsive.” The purpose of this act is to strengthen penalties for a public official who fails to respond to an affidavit, and refrains from performing an official duty.

2 Official Oppression. RSA 643:1 is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

643:1 Official Oppression.

I. A public servant, as defined in RSA 640:2, II, is guilty of a misdemeanor if such public servant:

(a) Commits or omits an undelegated act which purports to be an act of the office;

(b) Refrains, refuses, or omits to perform a duty imposed by law that is clearly inherent in the nature of the office; or

(c) Fails to respond to and rebut point for point an affidavit within 30 days of submission of the affidavit by any inhabitant, thus violating the accountability requirements mandated by part 1, article 8 of the New Hampshire constitution.

II. A public servant found guilty under paragraph I shall, in addition to the criminal penalties imposed for the misdemeanor under RSA 651:2, be removed ipso facto from public office with no right of appeal pursuant to RSA 92:2 and shall be prohibited from holding public office.

3 Effective Date. This act shall take effect upon its passage.





AN ACT expanding the definition of official oppression.


      The Judicial Branch, Judicial Council, Department of Justice, and New Hampshire Association of Counties state this bill may increase state and county expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2013 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 rewrites the official oppression statute. The Branch states this bill could result in additional misdemeanors being prosecuted. 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 the criminal offense created by the bill may increase the Department’s expenditures by an indeterminable amount. The Department states the proposed language could potentially cover a wide range of conduct which may increase the number of complaints that the Department will have to investigate and potentially prosecute.

    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.