TITLE XII
PUBLIC SAFETY AND WELFARE

CHAPTER 173-C
CONFIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN VICTIMS AND COUNSELORS

Section 173-C:1

    173-C:1 Definitions. –
In this chapter:
I. "Confidential communication" means information transmitted between a victim, as defined in paragraph VI, of an alleged sexual assault, alleged domestic abuse, alleged sexual harassment, or alleged stalking, and a sexual assault or domestic violence counselor in the course of that relationship and in confidence by means which, so far as the victim is aware, does not disclose the information to a third person. The presence of an interpreter for the deaf or hard of hearing, a foreign language interpreter, or any other interpreter necessary for that communication to take place shall not affect the confidentiality of the communication nor shall it be deemed a waiver of the privilege. The term includes all information received by the sexual assault or domestic violence counselor in the course of that relationship.
II. "Domestic violence center" means any organization or agency which would qualify as a direct service grantee under RSA 173-B:21.
III. "Domestic violence counselor" means any person who is employed or appointed or who volunteers in a domestic violence center who renders support, counseling, or assistance to victims of domestic abuse or attempted domestic abuse, who has satisfactorily completed 30 hours of training in a bona fide program which has been developed by a center as defined in RSA 173-C:1, II.
IV. "Rape crisis center" means any public or private agency, office, or center that primarily offers assistance to victims of sexual assault and their families and provides all the following services:
(a) Crisis intervention to victims of sexual assault 24 hours per day.
(b) Support services to victims of sexual assault by trained volunteers during the hospital examination, police investigation, and court proceedings.
(c) Referral of victims of sexual assault to public and private agencies offering needed services.
(d) The establishment of peer counseling services for the victims of sexual assault.
(e) The development of training programs and the standardization of procedures for law enforcement, hospital, legal and social service personnel to enable them to respond appropriately to the needs of victims.
(f) The coordination of services which are being provided by existing agencies.
(g) Education of the public about the nature and scope of sexual assault and the services which are available.
(h) Development of services to meet the needs of special populations, for example, children, the elderly, and minorities.
(i) Court advocacy through the criminal justice system.
V. "Sexual assault counselor" means any person who is employed or appointed or who volunteers in a rape crisis center who renders support, counseling, or assistance to victims of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault, who has satisfactorily completed 30 hours of training in a bona fide program which has been developed by a rape crisis center as defined in RSA 173-C:1, IV.
VI. "Victim" means any person alleging sexual assault under RSA 632-A, domestic abuse as defined in RSA 173-B:1, stalking under RSA 633:3-a, or sexual harassment as defined under state or federal law, who consults a sexual assault counselor or a domestic violence counselor for the purpose of securing support, counseling or assistance concerning a mental, physical, emotional, legal, housing, medical, or financial problem caused by an alleged act of sexual assault or domestic abuse, stalking, or sexual harassment, or an alleged attempted sexual assault or domestic abuse.

Source. 1985, 98:1. 1990, 241:7. 1998, 345:1, 2. 1999, 240:4, eff. Jan. 1, 2000. 2018, 275:1, eff. Aug. 17, 2018.

Section 173-C:2

    173-C:2 Privilege. –
I. A victim has the privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent any other person from disclosing a confidential communication made by the victim to a sexual assault counselor or a domestic violence counselor, including any record made in the course of support, counseling, or assistance of the victim. Any confidential communication or record may be disclosed only with the prior written consent of the victim. This privilege terminates upon the death of the victim.
I-a. The privilege and confidentiality under paragraph I shall extend to:
(a) A third person present to assist communication with the victim.
(b) A third person present to assist a victim who is physically challenged.
(c) Co-participants in support group counseling of the victim.
II. Persons prevented from disclosing a confidential communication or record pursuant to paragraph I shall be exempt from the provisions of RSA 631:6.

Source. 1985, 98:1. 1990, 241:8. 1994, 259:10, eff. June 2, 1994.

Section 173-C:3

    173-C:3 Assertion or Waiver of Privilege. –
The privilege may be claimed or waived in all civil, administrative, and criminal legal proceedings, including discovery proceedings, by the following persons:
I. The victim or an attorney on the victim's behalf.
II. The guardian of the victim, if the victim has been found incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction.
III. A minor victim who is emancipated, married, or over the age of 15, unless, in the opinion of the court, the minor is incapable of knowingly waiving the privilege. A guardian ad litem shall be appointed in all cases in which there is a potential conflict of interest between a victim under the age of 18 and his parent or guardian.

Source. 1985, 98:1, eff. May 10, 1985.

Section 173-C:4

    173-C:4 Partial Waiver. – Waiver as to a specific portion of communication between the victim and the counselor shall not constitute a waiver of the privilege as to other portions of the confidential communication between victim and counselor, relating to the alleged crime.

Source. 1985, 98:1, eff. May 10, 1985.

Section 173-C:5

    173-C:5 Limitation on the Privilege; Criminal Proceedings. –
In criminal proceedings when a defendant seeks information privileged under this chapter in discovery or at trial, the procedure below shall be followed:
I. A written pretrial motion shall be made by the defendant to the court stating that the defendant seeks discovery of records of a rape crisis center or domestic violence center or testimony of a sexual assault counselor or domestic violence counselor. The written motion shall be accompanied by an affidavit setting forth specific grounds as to why discovery is requested and showing that there is a substantial likelihood that favorable and admissible information would be obtained through discovery or testimony. No discovery or hearing shall occur pursuant to the information sought to be disclosed for at least 3 business days after the filing of a motion for disclosure.
II. The only information subject to discovery from the records of a rape crisis center or a domestic violence center or which may be elicited during the testimony of a sexual assault or domestic violence counselor are those statements of the victim which relate to the alleged crime being prosecuted in the instant trial.
III. Prior to admission of information at deposition, trial, or other legal proceeding, when a claim of privilege has been asserted and whether or not the information was obtained through discovery, the burden of proof shall be upon the defendant to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that:
(a) The probative value of the information, in the context of the particular case, outweighs its prejudicial effect on the victim's emotional or physical recovery, privacy, or relationship with the counselor or the rape crisis or domestic violence center.
(b) That the information sought is unavailable from any other source.
(c) That there is a substantial probability that the failure to disclose that information will interfere with the defendant's right to confront the witnesses against him and his right to a fair trial.
IV. The trial court shall review each motion for disclosure of information on a case by case basis and determine on the totality of the circumstances that the information sought is or is not subject to the privilege established in RSA 173-C:2. In finding that the privilege shall not apply in a particular case, the trial court shall make written findings as to its reasons therefor.
V. The records and testimony of a rape crisis center or domestic violence center shall be disclosed solely to the trial judge to determine, as a matter of law, whether the information contained in the records or testimony is admissible under this chapter.
VI. That portion of any record and testimony of a rape crisis center or domestic violence center which is not disclosed to the defendant shall be preserved by the court under seal for appeal. For the purpose of preservation, a copy of the record shall be retained with the original released to the center. Costs of duplication shall be borne by the defendant.
VII. If, after disclosure of privileged information, the court upholds the privilege claim, the court shall impose a protective order against revealing any of the information without the consent of the person authorized to permit disclosure.

Source. 1985, 98:1, eff. May 10, 1985.

Section 173-C:6

    173-C:6 Locations of Centers Privileged. – Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, the location and the street address of a rape crisis center or domestic violence center are absolutely privileged.

Source. 1985, 98:1, eff. May 10, 1985.

Section 173-C:7

    173-C:7 Involuntary Waiver. – The privilege established by this chapter shall not apply when the sexual assault counselor or the domestic violence counselor has knowledge that the victim has given perjured testimony and when the defendant has made an offer of proof that there is probable cause to believe that perjury has been committed.

Source. 1985, 98:1, eff. May 10, 1985.

Section 173-C:8

    173-C:8 Failure to Testify. – Failure of any person to testify as a witness pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall not give rise to an inference unfavorable to the prosecution or the defense.

Source. 1985, 98:1, eff. May 10, 1985.

Section 173-C:9

    173-C:9 Appeal. – The victim shall have a right to interlocutory appeal to the supreme court from any decision by a court to require the disclosure of records or testimony of a rape crisis or domestic violence center or sexual assault or domestic violence counselor.

Source. 1985, 98:1, eff. May 10, 1985.

Section 173-C:10

    173-C:10 Counselor's Duty to Report Child Abuse. – The domestic violence or sexual assault counselor shall have the same reporting duties under RSA 169-C:29 as other professionals, providing that this duty shall not apply where a minor is seeking relief pursuant to RSA 173-B:3 for abuse by a spouse or former spouse of the minor, or by an intimate partner who is not related to the minor by consanguinity or affinity. As used in this section, "abuse" and "intimate partners" shall be as defined in RSA 173-B:1.

Source. 1985, 98:1. 1994, 259:11, eff. June 2, 1994.