Bill Details - HB705 (2019)

HB 705-FN - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2019 SESSION

19-0074

04/05

 

HOUSE BILL 705-FN

 

AN ACT increasing the cap on assistance for victims of crime and relative to the rights of victims of crime.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Cushing, Rock. 21; Rep. T. Smith, Hills. 17; Rep. Sykes, Graf. 13

 

COMMITTEE: Criminal Justice and Public Safety

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill increases the maximum recovery for crime victims from the victims' compensation fund.  The bill also expands the offenses covered by the crime victims' bill of rights, expands the rights available to crime victims, requires the department of justice to develop a crime victims' rights card and code of professional ethics for crime victims assistance providers, and requires the department of justice to establish an administrative authority to receive and investigate complaints relating to the rights of crime victims.

 

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

19-0074

04/05

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nineteen

 

AN ACT increasing the cap on assistance for victims of crime and relative to the rights of victims of crime.

 

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

 

1  Department of Justice; Office of Victim/Witness Assistance.  Amend RSA 21-M:8-b, IV to read as follows:

IV.  The office of victim/witness assistance shall develop a crime victims’ rights card that describes in clear fashion a summary of the rights of crime victims under New Hampshire victims rights laws and other information helpful to victims of crime.  The office shall oversee the printing and the distribution of the card to first responders to provide to victims at the scene of a crime.

V.  The office of victim/witness assistance shall develop and publish a code of professional ethics for victims assistance providers in the state of New Hampshire.

VI.  Notwithstanding RSA 9:17-c, salary and benefits moneys from any existing vacancy in the department of justice may be used to fund the positions in the office of victim/witness assistance.

2  Department of Justice; Claimant Eligibility and Compensation.  Amend RSA 21-M:8-h, V to read as follows:

V.  The claimant may be reimbursed for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, medical expenses, funeral expenses, counseling expenses, rehabilitative expenses, expenses associated with the victim's participation in post-conviction proceedings and victim-offender dialogue programs or other restorative justice programs, and lost wages directly resulting from the crime.  Claimants eligible under subparagraph I(a)(4) may be reimbursed for the costs of removing the tattoo with an identifying mark.  No reimbursement shall be paid unless the claimant has incurred reimbursable expenses of at least $100.  There shall be a [$30,000] $50,000 maximum recovery per claimant per incident.  If expenses paid through the victims' assistance program fund are later covered by insurance settlements, civil suit settlements, or restitution, or through any other source, the claimant shall reimburse the fund for the amount of expenses recovered.

3  New Paragraph; Crime Victim; Claimant Eligibility.  Amend RSA 21-M:8-h by inserting after paragraph XI the following new paragraph:

XII.  Notwithstanding paragraph II, any person who was a child victim of physical or sexual abuse shall be eligible for victims compensation regardless of the date of the crime.  Compensation under this paragraph shall be limited to counseling expenses and expenses associated with the victim's participation in pre- and post-conviction proceedings incurred after the effective date of this paragraph.

4  Department of Justice; Rights of Crime Victims.  Amend RSA 21-M:8-k to read as follows:

21-M:8-k  Rights of Crime Victims.  

I.  As used in this section:

(a)  "Victim" means a person who suffers direct or threatened physical, emotional, psychological or financial harm as a result of the commission or the attempted commission of a crime.  "Victim" also includes the immediate family of any victim who is a minor or who is incompetent, or the immediate family of a homicide victim, or the surviving partner in a civil union.

(b)  "Crime" means a violation of a penal law of this state for which the offender, upon conviction, may be punished by imprisonment for more than one year or an offense expressly designated by law to be a felony; a misdemeanor sexual offense; an offense listed in RSA 173-B:1, I; a violation of a protective order under RSA 458:16, III; or after arraignment, a violation of a protective order issued under RSA 173-B.

II.  To the extent that they [can be reasonably guaranteed by the courts and by law enforcement and correctional authorities, and] are not inconsistent with the constitutional or statutory rights of the accused, crime victims are entitled to the following rights:

(a)  The right to be treated with fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice process.

(b)  The right to be informed about the criminal justice process and how it progresses.

(c)  The right to be free from intimidation and to be reasonably protected from the accused throughout the criminal justice process.

(d)  The right to be notified of all court proceedings.

(e)  The right to attend trial and all other court proceedings the accused has the right to attend.

(f)  The right to confer with the prosecution and to be consulted about the disposition of the case, including plea bargaining.

(g)  The right to have inconveniences associated with participation in the criminal justice process minimized.

(h)  The right to be notified if presence in court is not required.

(i)  The right to be informed about available resources, financial assistance, and social services.

(j)  The right to restitution, as granted under RSA 651:62-67 or any other applicable state law, or victim's compensation, under RSA 21-M:8-h or any other applicable state law, for their losses.

(k)  The right to be provided a secure, but not necessarily separate, waiting area during court proceedings.

(l)  The right to be advised of case progress and final disposition.

(m)  The right of confidentiality of the victim's address, place of employment, and other personal information.

(n)  The right to the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence.

(o)  The right to have input in the probation presentence report impact statement.

(p)  The right to appear and make a written or oral victim impact statement at the sentencing of the defendant or, in the case of a plea bargain, prior to any plea bargain agreement.  No victim shall be subject to questioning by counsel when giving an impact statement.

(q)  The right to be notified of an appeal, an explanation of the appeal process, the time, place and result of the appeal, and the right to attend the appeal hearing.

(r)  The right to be notified of, to attend, and to make a written or oral victim impact statement at the sentence review hearings and sentence reduction hearings.  No victim shall be subject to questioning by counsel when giving an impact statement.

(s)  The right to be notified of any change of status such as prison release, permanent interstate transfer, or escape, and the date of the parole board hearing, when requested by the victim through the victim advocate.

(t)  The right to address or submit a written statement for consideration by the parole board on the defendant's release and to be notified of the decision of the board, when requested by the victim through the victim advocate.

(u)  The right to all federal and state constitutional rights guaranteed to all victims of crime on an equal basis, and notwithstanding the provisions of any laws on capital punishment, the right not to be discriminated against or have their rights as a victim denied, diminished, expanded, or enhanced on the basis of the victim's support for, opposition to, or neutrality on the death penalty.

(v)  The right to access to restorative justice programs, including victim-initiated victim-offender dialogue programs offered through the department of corrections.

(w)  The right to be informed of the filing of a petition for post-conviction DNA testing under RSA 651-D.

(x)  The right to file a complaint with the administrative authority pursuant to paragraph IV if a law enforcement agency or prosecutor’s office fails notify the victim of or comply with his or her rights as described in this section.

(y)  The right to petition for a writ of mandamus pursuant to paragraph III to require compliance with this section.

(z)  The right to have the prosecuting attorney notify the victim's employer, if requested by the victim, of the necessity of the victim's cooperation and testimony in a court proceeding that may necessitate the absence of the victim from work for good cause.

II-a.(a)  In any case where the victim informs the court that he or she requires assistance in making an oral or written impact statement permitted under this section, the court shall allow the victim to designate a representative to write or speak on the victim's behalf.

(b)  The victim's impact statement shall not be limited to the injuries, harm, or damages noted in the information or indictment, but may include all injuries, harm, and damages suffered as a result of the commission or attempted commission of the crime whether or not the injuries, harm, or damages were fully determined or discovered at the time the information or indictment was filed.

III.(a)  The rights created in paragraph I may be subject to a writ of mandamus, to be issued by either the supreme court or superior court to require compliance by any court, public employee, public agency, the state, or any agency responsible for the enforcement of the rights and provisions in paragraph I.  Any person who willfully fails to comply with a writ of mandamus by any state or public agency or its employee shall be subject to contempt of court and a fine of up to $1,000.

(b)  Except as provided in subparagraph (a), nothing in this section shall be construed as creating a cause of action against the state, a county or municipality, or any of their agencies, instrumentalities, or employees.  Except as provided in subparagraph (a), nothing in this section shall be construed as creating any new cause of action or new remedy or right for a criminal defendant.

IV.(a)  Not later than 6 months after the effective date of this paragraph, the department of justice shall designate an administrative authority within the department to receive and investigate complaints relating to the provision or violation of the rights of a crime victim.  The authority shall develop a complaint form and distribute it to every police agency and prosecutor’s office in the state.  The form shall also be made publicly available in an appropriate manner.  Every police agency and prosecutor’s office in the state shall distribute the complaint form to any victim as described in this section and make such form available on its website.  

(b)  The authority shall compile an annual report of the number and nature of the complaints received, including identification of the public agency that is the subject of the complaint, the actions taken regarding those complaints, and the outcome of those complaints.  The annual report shall be publicly available on the department's website and shall be provided to the chairpersons of the house criminal justice and public safety committee and the senate judiciary committee.

V.(a)  No employer of a victim shall discharge, discipline, or otherwise retaliate against the victim, a member of the victim's family, or a victim's representative for participating, at the prosecutor's request, in preparation for a criminal justice proceeding or for attendance, pursuant to a subpoena, at a criminal justice proceeding if the attendance is reasonably necessary to protect the interests of the victim.  An employer who knowingly violates this section shall be in contempt of court.

(b)  The prosecuting attorney, upon request of the victim, shall notify the victim's employer of the necessity of the victim's cooperation and testimony in a court proceeding that may require the absence of the victim from work for good cause.

5  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

 

LBAO

19-0074

Revised 1/31/19

 

HB 705-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT increasing the cap on assistance for victims of crime and relative to the rights of victims of crime.

 

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

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Potential Increase of $466,000+

Potential Increase of $482,000+

Potential Increase of $500,000+

Potential Increase of $522,000+

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [ X ] Other - Victims' Assistance Fund

 

 

 

 

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill increases the maximum recovery for crime victims from the victims' compensation fund from $30,000 to $50,000.  The bill also expands the offenses covered by the crime victims' bill of rights, expands the rights available to crime victims.  The Department of Justice would be required to develop a crime victims' rights card and code of professional ethics for crime victims assistance providers, and establish an administrative authority to receive and investigate complaints relating to the rights of crime victims.

 

The Department of Justice indicates it would develop a complaint form to be distributed to every police agency and prosecutor's office, and compile an annual report to be made public and provided to the legislature.  The Department assumes it would need to hire two victim/witness advocates, a full time attorney, a full time investigator and a full time legal assistant to receive and investigate complaints relating to violation of the rights of a crime victim.  While the overall fiscal impact of the bill cannot be determined, the Department calculated the following costs for the additional staff salaries and benefits:

 

 

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

2 Victim Witness Advocates

$182,000

$188,000

$196,000

$206,000

Attorney

$107,000

$110,000

$111,000

$113,000

Investigator

$101,000

$105,000

$111,000

$117,000

Legal Assistant

$76,000

$79,000

$82,000

$86,000

Total:

$466,000

$482,000

$500,000

$522,000

 

Regarding Victims' Assistance Fund, the Department indicates it is difficult to predict the number of cases and/or the amount of revenue that will be received.  However, the Department reports the following five-year average of revenue into the fund at funds paid out at the current $30,000 cap.

 

5 Year Average: FY 2014 through FY 2018

Revenue:

$715,525

Expenditures:

$668,160

Balance:

$47,365

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Department of Justice

 

Docket

Date Status
Jan. 3, 2019 Introduced 01/03/2019 and referred to Criminal Justice and Public Safety HJ 3 P. 27
Feb. 20, 2019 Public Hearing: 02/20/2019 01:30 pm LOB 204
Feb. 21, 2019 ==TIME CHANGE== Executive Session: 02/21/2019 11:00 am LOB 204
Retained in Committee
June 26, 2019 Subcommittee Work Session: 06/26/2019 10:00 am LOB 204

Action Dates

Date Body Type
Feb. 20, 2019 House Hearing
Feb. 21, 2019 House Exec Session

Bill Text Revisions

HB705 Revision: 5051 Date: Feb. 1, 2019, 1:13 p.m.