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Office Of Cost Containment

Indigent Defense:

The indigent defense section is in charge of determining eligibility for court appointed counsel in criminal matters. This is done using a table and a set of procedures in the court to ensure that everyone is considered equally.

It is also responsible for determining defendants ability to repay the state, either in a lump sum payment or with weekly or monthly payments. These determinations are made individually with people who don’t know if or what they can repay. Each plan may be different as each case is different.

The law insures that everyone is treated equally on the amount of their liability which is based on the crime with which a defendant is charged, not the time spent or the outcome of the case.

The following are frequently asked questions that we hear nearly every day.

Q. I have heard on TV that the police will say "If you can’t afford a lawyer, one will be provided to you free." Is that true in NH?

A. Yes and no. If you are charged with a crime for which you could be incarcerated (in the County House of Correction or NH State Prison), you are entitled to be represented. If you can't afford to hire your own lawyer one will be provided to you. However, a defendant who has any ability to repay the state is required to set up a repayment plan with OCC.


Q. Do I just have to say "I can't afford a lawyer" and one will be provided?
A. No. You must complete a financial affidavit showing all income that is used to pay household expenses. Any remaining income is a factor in determining an eligibility for defense services.


Q. If I am found eligible, why doesn’t that show I can't repay?

A. Eligibility is based on an ability to pay an attorney’s retainer which can be substantial, depending on the crime for which you are charged. Even though you may not be able to pay a retainer, you may still be able to make payments over time on a regular basis.


Q. What if I don’t tell the truth on my financial statement?

A. You sign the affidavit under the penalty of perjury. Conviction for perjury can result in years in prison. At the time you sign a Financial Affidavit (F/A) you authorize OCC to investigate whether your statements are true.


Q. What if I feel I can't pay and OCC says I can..is there a right to appeal?

A. Yes, but you must prove that OCC rules should not apply to your case.


Q. What should I do when I get a letter from OCC asking that I set up a payment plan and I know I can’t?

A. Get in touch with OCC immediately. The case technicians are able to discuss reasonable repayment methods with you and are very experienced in working with people with genuine financial problems.If you ignore the letters or the original court orders, you could have your wages attached. You could have your drivers or professional license suspended. You might not be able to renew your auto registration, or worse, you could be charged with contempt and potentially sent to jail.


Q. If I want to read the law for myself, where can I find it?

A. The Laws called NH Revised Statutes can be found in the reference room of most libraries. They also may be found on the State of NH Home page under NH Revised Statutes. The specific law that applies to indigent defense cases is RSA 604-A.

The rules that apply to this statute can also be found on the State of NH Home Page under Legislature then Administrative Rules.

RSA Button  Rules button

Q. Is the material I give to OCC, or OCC finds out about me considered private?

A. Absolutely! While court records are considered public documents, we, at OCC know we are dealing with a lot of information which could never be called "public" We adhere to the State privacy policy published on "nh.gov" .


Q. How can I contact OCC?

A. You may write:OCC, 25 Capitol Street, Concord NH 03301-6324.

Or, you can telephone (603) 271- 1436.
We also have a walk-up window
25 Capitol Street, Room 400(4th floor)
The window is open M-F from 8 AM to 4 PM.

Contact the Office of Cost Containment.

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