Bill Text: NH HB188 | 2021 | Regular Session | Introduced

Bill Title: Relative to appointment of counsel in juvenile court proceedings.

Spectrum: Slight Partisan Bill (Democrat 5-3)

Status: (Introduced) 2021-02-24 - Lay on Table (Rep. Rice): Motion Adopted DV 201-149 02/24/2021 House Journal 3 P. 22 [HB188 Detail]

Download: New_Hampshire-2021-HB188-Introduced.html










AN ACT relative to appointment of counsel in juvenile court proceedings.


SPONSORS: Rep. Berch, Ches. 1; Rep. M. Smith, Straf. 6; Rep. Gordon, Graf. 9; Rep. Belanger, Rock. 9; Rep. Walz, Merr. 23; Rep. Levesque, Straf. 4; Rep. Salloway, Straf. 5; Rep. Rouillard, Hills. 6


COMMITTEE: Children and Family Law






This bill directs the court to appoint counsel for a minor when the juvenile delinquency petition is filed or the summons issued.  The bill also provides that a confession or statement from an unrepresented minor shall not be used in any judicial proceeding.


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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.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


AN ACT relative to appointment of counsel in juvenile court proceedings.


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


1  Statement of Findings.  

I.  The United States Supreme Court has found that “[a] lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility are found in youth more often than in adults and are more understandable among the young. These qualities often result in impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions.” It has further found that “juveniles are more vulnerable or susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, including peer pressure…[Y]outh is more than a chronological fact. It is a time and condition of life when a person may be most susceptible to influence and to psychological damage. This is explained in part by the prevailing circumstance that juveniles have less control, or less experience with control, over their own environment.”

II.  Children need access to counsel when they come in contact with the juvenile justice system.

III.  The role of the juvenile defender is complex and reflects the unique status of childhood in terms of immaturity, disability, and trauma. The juvenile defender must be knowledgeable as to legal jurisprudence relating to the representation of children, including child development, capacity to participate in legal proceedings, methods and effectiveness and availability of treatment and dispositional alternatives.

IV.  Juvenile defenders play a critical role in the fair administration of justice for children, including both legal and extralegal processes.

V.  Counsel must receive appropriate training in juvenile justice law and statutes; services for children; communication with children in a developmentally appropriate and effective manner; effective interviewing techniques involving children and to recognize how trauma, disability and immaturity affect the behavior and relationships of young people.

VI.  Effective representation of youth requires consultation and advocacy at the earliest stage possible and until the child is no longer subject to the juvenile justice system.

VII.  The courts have long noted that young persons are more susceptible to police coercion and in more need of counsel when facing police questioning. Special protection is particularly necessary in the context of affording young persons their Miranda rights, as they are less capable of comprehending such warnings than adults. The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that the age of the suspect can determine whether a person is in custody for purposes of Miranda. "It is beyond dispute that children will often feel bound to submit to police questioning when an adult in the same circumstances would feel free to leave.”

2  Delinquent Children; Issuance of Summons and Notice; Appointment of Counsel.  Amend the section heading of RSA 169-B:7 to read as follows:

169-B:7  Issuance of Summons and Notice; Appointment of Counsel.

3  Delinquency Children; Issuance of Summons and Notice; Appointment of Counsel.  RSA 169-B:7, III is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:

III.  The court shall appoint counsel for the minor upon receipt of the petition.  Such appointment shall occur no later than the time the summons is issued.  The summons shall contain the contact information of the appointed counsel.  The appointment shall be made sufficiently before any hearing to allow for consultation between counsel and client, as well as for any appropriate investigation.  Notice of the appointment shall be provided to counsel and to the petitioner telephonically, electronically, or in some other manner that is calculated to provide actual notice on the same day as the appointment.

4  Appointment of Counsel; Waiver of Counsel.  Amend RSA 169-B:12, I and I-a to read as follows:

I.  [Absent a valid waiver, the court shall appoint counsel at the time of arraignment of an indigent minor, provided that an indigent minor detained pursuant to RSA 169-B:11, III, shall have counsel appointed upon the issuance of the detention order.] Absent a valid waiver, the court shall appoint counsel for an indigent minor pursuant to RSA 169-B:7, III.  For purposes of [the appointment of counsel under] this section, an indigent minor shall be a minor who satisfies the court, after appropriate inquiry, that the minor is financially unable to independently obtain counsel.  If the court has received information indicating that the minor has an intellectual, cognitive, emotional, learning, or sensory disability, the court shall require the minor to consult with counsel.

I-a.  When an attorney is appointed as counsel for a child, representation shall include counsel and investigative, expert, and other services, including process to compel the attendance of witnesses, as may be necessary to protect the rights of the child.  Representation also shall include representation in related proceedings when such matters are based on the same factual circumstances as the petition under this chapter.  Such appointment shall remain in effect until the court no longer has jurisdiction over the child pursuant to this chapter, except in situations where the only remaining issue involves the payment of costs and fees.

5  Waiver of Counsel.  Amend RSA 169-B:12, II-a to read as follows:

II-a.  If the minor and the parent, guardian, or custodian have not consulted with counsel about the possible consequences of the proposed waiver of the right to counsel, the court [may only accept a waiver pursuant to paragraph II after making case-specific written findings with regard to each of the required conditions for waiver] shall not accept a waiver of counsel pursuant to paragraph II.

6  New Section; Use of Statement or Confession from a Minor; Appointment of Counsel Required.  Amend RSA 169-B by inserting after section 12-a the following new section:

169-B:12-b  Use of Statement or Confession from a Minor.  No statement or confession from a person who was a minor at the time the statement or confession was made may be used against that person at any judicial proceeding unless the person was represented by counsel at the time the statement or confession was made and that the person had adequate time to consult with such counsel.  Any law enforcement agency may petition the court to appoint counsel for a minor that the agency wishes to question.  Upon receipt of such petition, the court shall follow the procedures under RSA 169-B:12, and if appointment is made, promptly notify the minor and appointed counsel.

7  Adequate Representation of Indigent Defendants in Criminal Cases; Contracts for Representation in Juvenile Delinquency Cases.  Amend RSA 604-A:2-b to read as follows:

604-A:2-b  Contract Attorneys.  The state of New Hampshire, by the judicial council and with the approval of governor and council, may, within the limits of available appropriations, contract with any qualified attorney in the state to provide for the representation of indigents in circumstances where, pursuant to RSA 604-B, the public defender program is unavailable to provide such representation.  The executive director of the judicial council shall authorize payments to contract attorneys provided for under this section.  All contracts providing for the representation of juveniles under RSA 169-B shall be based upon an hourly rate, set by the judicial branch.

8  Adequate Representation for Indigent Defendants in Criminal Cases.  Amend RSA 604-A:9, I(a) and (b) to read as follows:

I.(a)  Any adult defendant [or juvenile respondent] who has been assigned counsel or a public defender shall be subject to an order by the court, pursuant to this section, regarding payment to the state for counsel fees and expenses paid by the state on behalf of the defendant [or juvenile], and regarding payment of an administrative service assessment.  Any payment obligation shall apply only to a defendant who has been convicted [or a juvenile who has been found delinquent].  No payment obligation shall accrue to a juvenile, or the person legally liable for support of the juvenile, for the appointment of counsel under this chapter.

(b)  Upon entering a judgment of conviction [or a finding of delinquency], and the issuance of sentence or disposition, the court shall enter a separate written order setting forth the reasons for the court's conclusion regarding the financial ability of the defendant [or the juvenile, including any person liable for the support of the juvenile pursuant to RSA 604-A:2-a,] to make payment of counsel fees and expenses, and administrative service assessment.  In its discretion, the court may conduct an ability-to-pay hearing to assist in its determination.  If the court finds that there is an ability to pay some or all of the counsel fees and expenses and the assessment, either presently or in the future, it shall order payment in such amounts and upon such terms and conditions it finds equitable; any payment obligation shall not commence until the conviction and sentence [or the finding of delinquency and disposition] has become final.  If the court finds that there is no such ability to pay, it shall so order, and any payment obligation shall terminate.

9  Repeal.  RSA 169-B:12, I-b, relative to the appointment of counsel for consultation with an indigent minor, is repealed.

10  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect January 1, 2022.