502-A:19-b Pleas By Mail; Procedure
Last revised 1975 § 1 Comment
In any case in which a defendant may, pursuant to RSA 149-M:17, II, RSA 206:34, RSA 262:44, RSA 270:11-a, or RSA 227-G:5-a, enter a plea by mail in a district or municipal court, the following procedure shall be followed:
I. Such defendant shall receive, in addition to his or her summons, a uniform fine schedule which shall contain:
- (a) The usual fines for violations of the provisions of RSA 270, 270-A, and 270-E, excluding any offense which is a misdemeanor or felony;
- (b) The usual fines for violations of the provisions of title XVIII on fish and game laws, excluding any offense which is a misdemeanor or felony;
- (c) The usual fines for violations of title XXI on motor vehicle laws, excluding any offense which is a misdemeanor or felony or is excluded under RSA 262:44; or
- (d) The usual fines for violations of the provisions of title XIX-A on forestry laws, excluding any offense which is a misdemeanor or felony.
I-a. The defendant shall be given a notice of fine indicating the amount of the fine plus penalty assessment at the time the summons is issued; except, if, for cause, the summoning authority wishes the defendant to appear personally. Defendants summoned to appear personally must do so on the arraignment date specified in the summons, unless otherwise ordered by the court. Defendants who are issued a summons and notice of fine and who wish to plead guilty or nolo contendere shall enter their plea on the summons and return it with payment of the fine plus penalty assessment to the division of motor vehicles within 30 days of the date of summons. Defendants in violation of the provisions of title XVIII shall be subject to the provisions of RSA 207:18 and RSA 214:19.
II. (a) Whenever a defendant does not enter a plea by mail prior to the arraignment day or does not appear personally or by counsel on or before that date or move for a continuance, the defendant shall be defaulted and the court shall determine what the fine would be upon a plea of guilty or nolo contendere and shall impose an administrative processing fee in addition to the fine and penalty assessment, and in the case of violations of title XXI, the defendant’s driving privileges shall be suspended as provided in RSA 263:56-a. The provisions of RSA 207:18 and RSA 214:19, as applicable, shall apply to a defendant in violation of the provisions of title XVIII.
- (b) Whenever a defendant otherwise fails to appear for a scheduled court appearance in connection with a summons for any violation level offense set forth in titles XIX-A, XVIII, XXI or XXII, the court shall proceed to hear the state’s evidence, by offer of proof or otherwise, and enter a finding in accordance therewith. In the event a finding of guilty is made, the court shall set the fine, and the clerk shall forthwith mail or deliver to the defendant at the defendant’s last known mailing address a notice of finding and imposition of fine form approved by the administrative judge of the district court, appointed pursuant to supreme court rule. Payment of the fine in full shall be required no later than 30 days from the date of said notice. Upon the failure of any defendant to remit said payment, the procedure required by subparagraph II(a) shall be followed by the court. No finding made by the court under this section shall be set aside except for good cause shown.
- (c) In defaulted cases of violations of title XXI or title XVIII, the court shall notify the director of the division of motor vehicles of the defendant’s default of a title XXI violation, or the executive director of the department of fish and game of the defendant’s default of a title XVIII violation, and the amounts of the fine and other penalties on a form prescribed by the director of the division of motor vehicles or the executive director of the department of fish and game, as appropriate. The amount of the administrative processing fee shall be determined by the New Hampshire supreme court in accordance with the provisions of paragraph V of this section.
III. (a) The commissioner of safety may notify, by electronic means, the administrative judge or the administrative judge’s designee of all defendants who have failed to comply under RSA 502-A:19-b, II(a). The commissioner shall certify that the defendants are in default, have been notified, and have failed to respond. The court may, in its discretion, find the defendant administratively guilty. No such finding shall be vacated, except for good cause shown. If the court finds the defendant administratively guilty, the court shall issue an electronic civil bench warrant within 30 days. In addition, the court may issue an electronic warrant for the arrest of any defendant who:
- (1) Is defaulted in accordance with the provisions of RSA 502-A:19-b, II;
- (2) Fails to pay a fine or other penalty imposed or issues a bad check in payment of a fine or other penalty; or
- (3) Fails to comply with a similar order of the director or a court on any matter within the director’s or court’s jurisdiction.
III-a. Fines and fees owed pursuant to this section may be paid through the bail commissioner or court by credit card in accordance with procedures set forth by the district court administrative judge, or through the division of motor vehicles by credit card in accordance with procedures established by the director of the division of motor vehicles.
IV. For cause, the court in its discretion may refuse to accept a plea by mail and may impose a fine other than that prescribed by the uniform fine schedule. The court may order the defendant to appear personally in court for the disposition of his case.
V. The uniform fine schedule and administrative processing fee referred to in paragraphs I and II, developed and promulgated by the New Hampshire supreme court after approval by the legislative fiscal committee, shall, on and after January 1, 2005, be changed only by statute.
VI. The administrative processing fee provided for in paragraph II shall be retained by the court for the benefit of the state.
1975, 116:2. 1981, 146:5, XXIII. 1983, 382:9; 383:38. 1985, 341:3. 1987, 239:3. 1989, 114:2. 1990, 229:24. 1992, 232:2, eff. Jan. 1, 1993; 257:28; 284:39, eff. Jan. 1, 1993. 1996, 182:2, eff. June 3, 1996; 251:23, eff. Aug. 9, 1996. 1998, 288:1, 11, eff. Jan. 1 , 1999; 288:2; 288:3, eff. June 26, 1998. 2002, 231:1, eff. May 17, 2002. 2003, 43:3-6, eff. May 6, 2003. 2004, 183:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2005. 2006, 260:30, eff. Jan. 1, 2007. 2007, 54:1, eff. July 1, 2007.
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