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Technical Flaw Dooms N.H. Bill Aimed at Extending Statute of Limitations for Minor Victims

State House of New Hampshire
Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu on Tuesday vetoed a bill aimed at extending the statute of limitations for certain crimes involving minors due to a drafting error.

The legislation, HB 239, intended to give minor victims of first- or second-degree assault more time to come forward with allegations or participate in prosecutions by pausing the start of the six-year statute of limitations until the victim was 18 years old. In practice, this would have meant minor victims could have brought forward allegations up until they turned 24 years old.

However, the bill, which had bipartisan support, failed to include clear language that the additional time was for victims of crime who were under the age of 18.

“And with that omission, it then therefore could be applied to any victim of first-degree assault,” Geoff Ward, senior assistant attorney general said. “In essence, it would create an absolute cap of age 24 for any victim of first degree assault. A 23 year old would have a very short statute of limitations, and a 25 year old, you couldn't go forward on that case at all.”

The Attorney General, along with all ten County Attorneys, submitted a letter to Sununu explaining the bill’s error, prompting his veto.

The letter includes model language for the legislature to consider at a future date.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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