Office Of Cost Containment
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
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 dont know if or what they
can repay. Each plan may be different as each case
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.
following are frequently asked questions that we
hear nearly every day.
Q. I have heard on TV that the police
will say "If you cant afford a lawyer,
one will be provided to you free." Is that true in NH?
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.
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.
I am found eligible, why doesnt that show I can't repay?
A. Eligibility is based on an ability to pay an attorneys 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.
What if I dont 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.
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.
What should I do when I get a letter from OCC
asking that I set
up a payment plan and I know I cant?
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.
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.
Q. Is the material
I give to OCC, or OCC finds out about me considered private?
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
Q. How can I contact OCC?
You may write:OCC, 25 Capitol Street, Concord NH
Or, you can telephone (603) 271- 1416.
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