SB593 (2018) Detail

Relative to the penalty for capital murder.










AN ACT relative to the penalty for capital murder.


SPONSORS: Sen. Avard, Dist 12; Sen. Daniels, Dist 11; Sen. Ward, Dist 8; Sen. Giuda, Dist 2; Sen. French, Dist 7; Sen. Woodburn, Dist 1; Sen. Watters, Dist 4; Sen. Fuller Clark, Dist 21; Sen. Feltes, Dist 15; Sen. Soucy, Dist 18; Sen. Hennessey, Dist 5; Sen. Kahn, Dist 10; Sen. Lasky, Dist 13; Rep. McGuire, Merr. 29; Rep. O'Leary, Hills. 13; Rep. Cushing, Rock. 21; Rep. Kotowski, Merr. 24; Rep. Souza, Hills. 43


COMMITTEE: Judiciary






This bill changes the penalty for capital murder to life imprisonment without the possibility for parole.


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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.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


AN ACT relative to the penalty for capital murder.


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


1  Homicide; Capital Murder.  Amend RSA 630:1, III to read as follows:

III.  A person convicted of a capital murder [may be punished by death] shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life without the possibility for parole.

2  Applicability.  Section 1 of this act shall apply to persons convicted of capital murder on or after the effective date of this act.  

3  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect January 1, 2019.

VETOED June 21, 2018








AN ACT relative to the penalty for capital murder.


FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [    ] County               [    ] Local              [    ] None




Estimated Increase / (Decrease)


FY 2019

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022












Indeterminable Decrease

Indeterminable Decrease

Indeterminable Decrease

Indeterminable Decrease

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [    ] Other







This bill would change the death penalty for capital murder from the death penalty to a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.


The Judicial Branch states this bill could reduce expenditures for the Branch because there would be no penalty phase trial which is required in a death penalty case and because life in prison cases are less hard-fought, usually resulting in shorter trials than in cases in which the death penalty is a possible outcome.  The Branch indicates there have been only two death penalty cases prosecuted to conclusion in the past decade and, over the years, New Hampshire has seen so few capital murder indictments that potential savings would be unquantifiable and sporadic.  Currently, no capital murder cases are pending trial.


The Judicial Council indicates there have been two capital cases handled by the indigent defense delivery system in the last 20 years.  One case was handled by the Public Defender without the need for an additional appropriation because the defended  pleaded  guilty early in the case in order to avoid the death  penalty.  The second case has lasted nine years and the State has spent over $2.8 million in defense costs to date.  The Council indicates if the death penalty is repealed, it would not face the extraordinary expenditures necessary to provide representation to an indigent defendant in a capital case.


The Department of Justice states, as a general matter, capital murder cases in which the death


penalty is sought are more expensive to investigate and prosecute than non-death penalty cases.  The Department has prosecuted two death penalty cases; Stat e of N.H. vs Brooks and State of

N.H. vs Addison.  The cost of the Brooks case was $1.3 million and, to date, the cost to prosecute the Addison case has been $2.5 million.  The Addison case will continue for several more years resulting in additional costs.  The Department indicates the cost to prosecute a first or second degree murder, which would be the equivalent of a non-death penalty capital murder case, is wide ranging.  In the past three years, three homicide cases have gone through the trial and appellate process.  The cost of those cases ranged from $403,333 to $549,995. In the same period 13 homicide cases have been resolved by plea agreement.  The costs for those cases ranged from $16,350 to $174,298.  The Department states State expenditures would decrease as a result the bill, but it is not possible to estimate the amount.


The Department of Corrections is not able to determine the fiscal impact of the bill because it has no information that could be used to predict the number of individuals that would be subject to this legislation.  The average annual cost of incarcerating an individual in the general population was $36,960 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017 and the annual marginal cost of an additional prisoner in the general population is $4,555.  The average cost to supervise an individual by the Department's Division of Field Services for the year ending June 30, 2017 was



The New Hampshire Association of Counties states this bill would have no fiscal impact on county revenues or expenditures.



Departments of Justice and Corrections, Judicial Branch, Judicial Council and New Hampshire Association of Counties



SB593 at GenCourtMobile

Action Dates

Date Body Type
March 12, 2018 Senate Hearing
March 15, 2018 Senate Floor Vote
April 4, 2018 House Hearing
April 17, 2018 House Exec Session
House Floor Vote
April 26, 2018 House Floor Vote

Bill Text Revisions

SB593 Revision: 4234 Date: June 26, 2018, 10:02 a.m.
SB593 Revision: 3635 Date: April 27, 2018, 8:16 a.m.
SB593 Revision: 3094 Date: Feb. 21, 2018, 8:50 a.m.


Date Status
Feb. 15, 2018 Introduced 02/15/2018 and Referred to Judiciary; SJ 5
March 12, 2018 Hearing: 03/12/2018, Room 100, SH, 01:00 PM; SC 10A
March 15, 2018 Committee Report: Ought to Pass, 03/15/2018; SC 12A
March 15, 2018 Ought to Pass: RC 14Y-10N, MA; OT3rdg; 03/15/2018; SJ 8
March 15, 2018 Introduced 03/15/2018 and referred to Criminal Justice and Public Safety HJ 8 P. 71
April 4, 2018 ==ROOM CHANGE== Public Hearing: 04/04/2018 10:00 AM LOB 210-211
April 17, 2018 Executive Session: 04/17/2018 LOB 204
Majority Committee Report: Ought to Pass (Vote 12-6; RC)
April 26, 2018 Majority Committee Report: Ought to Pass for 04/26/2018 (Vote 12-6; RC) HC 16 P. 10
Minority Committee Report: Inexpedient to Legislate
April 26, 2018 Ought to Pass: MA RC 223-116 04/26/2018
May 3, 2018 Enrolled 05/03/2018
May 3, 2018 Enrolled (In recess 05/03/2018); SJ 17
June 21, 2018 Vetoed by Governor 06/21/2018 SC 27