9Apr2021... 1285EBA







AN ACT relative to post-conviction DNA testing.


SPONSORS: Rep. Conley, Straf. 13; Rep. Schapiro, Ches. 16; Rep. Moran, Hills. 34; Rep. Cushing, Rock. 21


COMMITTEE: Criminal Justice and Public Safety






This bill amends the statute governing post-conviction DNA testing procedures.


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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

9Apr2021... 1285EBA 21-0075





In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty One


AN ACT relative to post-conviction DNA testing.


Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:


49:1  Post-Conviction DNA Testing of Biological Material.  Amend RSA 651-D:2 to read as follows:

651-D:2  Post-Conviction DNA Testing of Biological Material.  

I.  A person in custody, on probation or parole, or whose liberty is otherwise restrained as a result of a conviction or adjudication as a delinquent pursuant to the judgment of the court may, notwithstanding RSA 526:4, at any time after conviction or adjudication as a delinquent, petition the superior court in the county of conviction for forensic DNA testing of any biological material.  The petition shall, under penalty of perjury:

(a)  Explain why the identity of the petitioner was or should have been a significant issue during court proceedings notwithstanding the fact that the petitioner may have pled guilty or nolo contendere, or made or is alleged to have made an incriminating statement or admission as to identity.

(b)  Explain why, in light of all the circumstances, the requested DNA testing will exonerate the petitioner and demonstrate his or her innocence by proving that the petitioner has been misidentified as the perpetrator of, or accomplice to, the crime for which the petitioner was convicted.

(c)  Make every reasonable attempt to identify [both] the evidence that should be tested [and the specific type of DNA testing which is sought].

(d)  Explain why the evidence sought to be tested by the petitioner was not previously subjected to DNA testing, or explain how the evidence can be subjected to retesting with different DNA techniques that provide a reasonable probability of reliable and probative results.

I-a.  If the superior court determines that an indigent petitioner has met the requirements of paragraph I, it shall appoint counsel to represent such petitioner in any further proceedings under this section.

II.  The court shall notify the office of the attorney general, or the county attorney who prosecuted the case, of a petition made under this section and shall afford an opportunity to respond.  Upon receiving notice of a petition made under this section, the attorney general, or county attorney who prosecuted the case, shall take such steps as are necessary to ensure that any remaining biological material obtained in connection with the case or investigation is preserved pending the completion of proceedings under this section and shall inform the petitioner regarding the location and condition of evidence in their possession that was obtained in relation to the underlying case, regardless of whether it was introduced at trial.  Items discoverable at trial under the New Hampshire rules of criminal procedure shall be made available to the petitioner.  

III.  After a hearing, the court [may] shall order DNA testing pursuant to an application made under this section upon finding that the petitioner has established each of the following factors by [clear and convincing] a preponderance of the evidence:

(a)  The evidence to be tested was secured in relation to the investigation or prosecution that resulted in the petitioner's conviction or sentence, and is available and in a condition that would permit the DNA testing that is requested in the motion.

(b)  The evidence to be tested has been subject to a chain of custody sufficient to establish it has not been substituted, tampered with, replaced, or altered in any material aspect.

(c)  The evidence sought to be tested is material to the issue of the petitioner's identity as the perpetrator of, or accomplice to, the crime.

(d)  DNA results of the evidence sought to be tested would be material to the issue of the petitioner's identity as the perpetrator of, or accomplice to, the crime that resulted in his or her conviction or sentence.

(e)  If the requested DNA testing produces exculpatory results, the testing will constitute new, noncumulative material evidence that [will exonerate the petitioner by establishing that he or she was misidentified as the perpetrator or accomplice to the crime] there is a reasonable probability the petitioner would not have been convicted.

(f)  The evidence sought to be tested was not previously tested using DNA technology or the [technology requested was not available at the time of trial] type of testing sought is capable of producing new or more informative results.

(g)  If DNA or other forensic testing previously was done in connection with the case, the requested DNA test would provide results that are new or [significantly] more [discriminating] informative and probative on a material issue of identity, and would have a reasonable probability of contradicting prior test results.

(h)  The testing requested employs a method generally accepted within the relevant scientific community.

[(i)  The motion is timely and not unreasonably delayed.]

IV.  If the court grants the motion for DNA testing, the court's order shall:

(a)  Identify the specific evidence to be tested and the DNA technology to be used.

(b)  If the court ordered different testing than requested by the petitioner, the court shall explain why the different test was ordered.

(c)  Designate the New Hampshire state police forensic laboratory to conduct the test.  However, the court, upon a showing of good cause, may order testing by another laboratory or agency [accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) or the National Forensic Science Training Center] that conforms to the current version of ISO/IEC 17025 requirements, the appropriate quality assurance standards required by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and to forensic-specific requirements, and is accredited by an organization that is a signatory to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation Mutual Recognition Arrangements for Testing Laboratories, if requested by the petitioner.  The laboratory shall give equal access to its personnel, opinions, conclusions, reports, and other documentation to the prosecuting attorney and the petitioner.  Consumptive testing shall not occur except upon written permission by both the prosecutor and petitioner or by a specific order of the court.

(d)  [Repealed.]

V.  The cost of DNA testing ordered under this section shall be paid by the petitioner, or by the state, if the petitioner is indigent as determined by the court.  [The court may appoint counsel for an indigent petitioner under this section.]

VI.(a)  If the results of DNA testing conducted under this section are unfavorable to the petitioner, the court shall dismiss the application and in cases where the petitioner was convicted of a sexual offense, the court shall forward the test results to the New Hampshire state prison, sex offender program.

(b)  In addition to any other substantive or procedural remedies provided by applicable law, if the results of DNA testing conducted under this section are favorable to the petitioner, and notwithstanding RSA 526:4, the court shall order a hearing and shall enter any order that serves the interests of justice, including an order vacating and setting aside the judgment, discharging the petitioner if the petitioner is in custody, resentencing the petitioner, or granting a new trial.

VII.  Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit the circumstances under which a person may obtain DNA testing or other post-conviction relief under any other provision of state or federal law.

49:2  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.


Approved: May 25, 2021

Effective Date: July 24, 2021