Date Requested: February 08, 2017
Time Requested: 05:06 PM
Agency: Public Defender Services
CBD Number: Version: Bill Number: Resolution Number:
1515 Introduced HB2099
CBD Subject:


FUND(S):

0226

Sources of Revenue:

General Fund

Legislation creates:

Neither Program nor Fund



Fiscal Note Summary


Effect this measure will have on costs and revenues of state government.


    
     The potential increase in a fiscal year for payments made from revenue appropriated for the payment of court appointed counsel is calculated to be Fifty Thousand Sixty-two Dollars and Twenty Cents ($50,062.20).



Fiscal Note Detail


Effect of Proposal Fiscal Year
2017
Increase/Decrease
(use"-")
2018
Increase/Decrease
(use"-")
Fiscal Year
(Upon Full
Implementation)
1. Estmated Total Cost 50,062 50,062 50,062
Personal Services 50,062 50,062 50,062
Current Expenses 0 0 0
Repairs and Alterations 0 0 0
Assets 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0
2. Estimated Total Revenues 0 0 0


Explanation of above estimates (including long-range effect):


     The legislation increases the seriousness of the offense to be charged when a driver of a vehicle that is involved in a crash that causes serious bodily injury leaves the scene of the accident without giving reasonable assistance to the person as required by the provisions of Section 3 of Article 4 of Chapter 17C of the West Virginia Code, W. Va. Code §17C-4-3.
     Currently, this offense is charged as a misdemeanor with a fine and imprisonment up to a year. “Leaving the scene of the accident” is only a felony when a death occurs in the crash.
     The agency compiles statistics on the charges of “leaving the scene of an accident” without regard to whether the charge was a misdemeanor or a felony. However, the agency believes that the number of felonies is very low due to the requirement that a death occur. The agency has no information about whether the misdemeanor charges involved accidents that resulted in serious bodily injury.
     In Fiscal Year 2016, the agency received forty-nine (49) claims for compensation of attorneys’ fees or reimbursement of expenses in the total amount of Twenty-three Thousand Three Hundred Ninety-three Dollars and Fifty-five Cents ($23,393.55). See Public Defender Services, Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2016, p. 93. In Fiscal Year 2015, sixty-four (64) claims were received in the total amount of Twenty Thousand Nine Hundred Fifty-four Dollars and Fifty Cents ($20,954.50). See Public Defender Services, Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2015, p. 86. In Fiscal Year 2014, forty-three (43) claims were received in the total amount of Seventeen Thousand Three Hundred Thirty-two Dollars and Seven Cents ($17,332.07). See Public Defender Services, Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2014, p. 91.
     Again, the agency does not know how many of the claims involved death, but the assumption is that very few did so. Accordingly, most of the claims were made as the result of defending misdemeanor charges.
     In Fiscal Year 2016, the average cost of defending a misdemeanor charge by court-appointed private counsel was Three Hundred Eighty-one Dollars and Fifty-seven Cents ($381.57). See Public Defender Services, Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2016, p. 91. The average cost of defending a felony charge was One Thousand One Hundred Seventy-nine Dollars and Seventy-seven Cents ($1,179.77). Id. The average cost of defending a felony charge was, therefore, 3.14 times the average cost of defending a misdemeanor charge.
     Again, the assumption is that almost all claims received in Fiscal Year 2016 were related to misdemeanor charges because no death was involved. If the assumption is made that all these claims involved accidents in which serious bodily injury occurred, then the increased cost to the agency would be Fifty Thousand Sixty-two Dollars and Twenty Cents ($50,062.20). The calculation is: (i) the current cost of such claims, $23,393.55, multiplied by (ii) 3.14, which is the average increase in cost between misdemeanor and felony charges, less (iii) the current costs of such claims, $23,393.55. The actual increase would be presumably less in that not all the claims would involve serious bodily injury and would still be charged as a misdemeanor.
    



Memorandum


     The analysis was complicated by the fact that the agency does not currently distinguish whether a charge of "leaving the scene of an accident" is a felony or a misdemeanor. The agency could not find information that would permit the agency to determine whether the claims submitted in FY2016 were for charges that were a felony, when death was involved, and a misdemeanor, which would be all other charges. The agency had no means by which to determine what misdemeanor charges, if any, involved a serious bodily injury as distinguished from non-serious bodily injury or just property damage.



    Person submitting Fiscal Note: Dana F. Eddy
    Email Address: Dana.F.Eddy@wv.gov