April 06, 2012

The System




The following legislation has been edited in terms of both its original content and formatting.


HB 1531-FN – AS INTRODUCED

2012 SESSION

12-2108

04/09

HOUSE BILL 1531-FN

AN ACT relative to prosecution for victimless crimes.

SPONSORS: Rep. Lambert, Hills 27; Rep. Warden, Hills 7; Rep. Manuse, Rock 5

COMMITTEE: Criminal Justice and Public Safety

ANALYSIS

This bill creates an affirmative defense to any felony or misdemeanor if there was no victim of the crime.

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[. . . .]

12-2108

04/09

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twelve

AN ACT relative to prosecution for victimless crimes.

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

1 New Paragraph; General Requirements of Culpability. Amend RSA 626:2 by inserting after paragraph V the following new paragraph:

VI. It shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution for any felony or misdemeanor charged under the laws of this state that there was no victim of the crime. In this paragraph, “victim” means any 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.

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

LBAO

12-2108

12/09/11

HB 1531-FN - FISCAL NOTE

AN ACT relative to prosecution for victimless crimes.

FISCAL IMPACT:

The Judicial Branch states this bill will have an indeterminable fiscal impact on state expenditures in FY 2012 and each year thereafter. The Judicial Council states this bill may decrease state expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2012 and each year thereafter. The New Hampshire Association of Counties states this bill may decrease county expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2012 and each year thereafter. There is no fiscal impact on local expenditures, or state, county and local revenue.

METHODOLOGY:

The Judicial Branch states this bill adds a new section to RSA 626:2 to provide an affirmative defense to the prosecution of any felony or misdemeanor were there is no victim of the crime. The bill does not add or remove any felony or misdemeanor prosecutions to or from the caseload of the Branch. The Branch states the fiscal impact of this bill on expenditures is indeterminable. Establishing an affirmative defense may result in longer trials where there may be a dispute on whether a particular crime was victimless or not, increasing costs. However, the possibility exists that fewer prosecutions would occur as law enforcement and prosecutors no longer bring charges in so-called victimless crimes.

The Judicial Council states to the extent a felony or misdemeanor is not prosecuted as a result of this bill, there may be a decrease in indigent costs. The Council states if an individual is found to be indigent, the flat fee of $275 per misdemeanor and $756.24 per felony 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 and $4,100 for a felony charge. The Council also states there may not be additional costs associated with appeals.

The New Hampshire Association of Counties states to the extent less individuals are charged, convicted, and sentenced to incarceration in a county correctional facility, the counties may have decreased expenditures. The Association is unable to determine the number of individuals who may not 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 Department of Justice states this bill, in effect, would legalize all crimes currently defined by statute that do not impact a victim directly or by threats. The type of crimes would include the majority of violations of the controlled drug act and certain public corruption offenses. The Department states the drug task force would essentially become obsolete and be disbanded because much of the street level drug trafficking offenses investigated by the task force would not involve a victim as defined in this bill. Elimination of the task force would involve the elimination of six federally funded positions as the federal funds would be redirected to other investigative activities. Additionally, there are six general funded positions that spend a portion of their time investigating and prosecuting public corruption crimes that would be refocused on other public integrity matters and economic crimes. Because of the redirection of the federal funds and job responsibilities of the general funded positions, there is no fiscal impact on state expenditures.

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