Bar News - January 5, 2007
Sexual Predators Act Overview
The NHBA CLE seminar, “Understanding NH Sexual Predators Act,” held at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord on Dec. 8, 2006, provided an overview on the new law and rehabilitation treatment procedures related to the sexual predator cases.
Some highlights of the act, effective Jan. 1, 2007, include:
- 25-year mandatory minimum sentence for a first offense by those who sexually assault children under 13. Second-offender child rapists face life without parole and predators who murder children face 35-years-to-life.
- Justification by judges who impose a lesser sentence; they must provide reasons for the decision. And, the prosecution or defense can ask for review of a sentence by a special Sentence Review Division.
- Provision for a study on electronic monitoring of sex offenders
- Facilitation of procedure to keep violent offenders in a secure facility if they are found mentally incompetent or are considered dangerous upon release.
- Provision of discretion for a sentencing judge to order that a person register as a sexual offender and/or be listed on the public list if found to have committed a crime motivated by sexual gratification or sexual compulsion and protection of children would be accomplished by doing so.
- Provision for the court at the time of the dispositional hearing to require juvenile delinquents to register as sexual offenders until age 17 (or 21 if the district court exercises extended jurisdictional over the juvenile).
- Requirement of the Dept. of Safety to verify the addresses of convicted sexual offenders through certified mail (with a response required by the offender) or physically visiting the address. The act clarifies that offenders must register any temporary home they have lived in for more than five days.
- Prosecutors may elect to seek a mandatory life without parole sentence if the defendant has previously been incarcerated or subject to probation, parole or other supervised release, or has committed aggravated felonious sexual assault (AFSA) against a victim under the age of 13 while in the above statuses or while on bail or escape status.
- Provision for civil commitment of sexual offenders who have been convicted, found not guilty by reason of insanity, or incompetent to stand trial on a sexually violent offense and who have a mental abnormality that infringes upon the ability to control sexual behavior and who pose a danger to the public if released into society.
- Creation of Multidisciplinary Teams (MDTs) to evaluate whether persons convicted of a sexually violent offense who are eligible for release from total confinement meet the definition of “sexually violent predator.” The team is made up of two licensed psychiatrists/psychologists (specialized training in the area of treatment/diagnosis of sex offenders). The other members of the team are not currently defined or limited. The attorney general is legal counsel to the MDT.