NH Legislature moves to require counsel prior to fees/fines incarceration
While a state may have many statutes, court decisions, or court rules governing appointment of counsel for a particular subject area, a "Key Development" is a statute/decision/rule that prevails over the others (example: a state high court decision finding a categorical right to counsel in guardianships cases takes precedence over a statute saying appointment in guardianship cases is discretionary).
06/02/2017, Legislation, Incarceration for Fees/Fines (incomplete)
N.H. Stat. § 604-A:2-f(II), added in 2017 as the result of SB 200, addresses hearings regarding a defendant’s failure to pay court-ordered fines/fees or perform community service. It specifies that “Prior to conducting an ability to pay or ability to perform final hearing, the court shall: ... (c) Inform the defendant that he or she is entitled to counsel for the final hearing in which incarceration is a possible outcome and, if the defendant cannot afford one, the court will appoint one.” Moreover, N.H. Super. Ct. R. Rule 29(e)(4) specifies that “Conduct which the court finds is a willful failure to pay an assessment or to perform community service as ordered may be punishable as civil contempt of court subject to the provisions of RSA 618:9.” Thus, the combination of the statute and rule provide a right to counsel for civil contempt proceedings relating to failure to pay fines/fees.
This bill derived from a petition to the New Hampshire Supreme Court to create rules providing this right to counsel, but after the Court declined to do so (despite the recommendation of its own study committee), the bill followed.
If "yes", the established right to counsel or discretionary appointment of counsel is limited in some way, including any of: the only authority is a lower/intermediate court decision or a city council, not a high court or state legislature; there has been a subsequent case that has cast doubt; a statute is ambiguous; or the right or discretionary appointment is not for all types of individuals or proceedings within that category.
Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no
|The NCCRC gave input and support to the court rule petition that preceded this bill.|