Although criminal defendants are generally processed the same way in all fifty states, there are some state-to-state differences in criminal procedure that those accused of a crime in New Hampshire should be aware of.
It is imperative for someone facing possible criminal charges in New Hampshire to know as much as possible about the criminal statute itself and any of the crime's associated penalties. Questions related to what the sentence is and whether there are any legal defenses to the charge are important to know.
A plea bargain is an agreement "between a criminal defendant and the prosecutor where the defendant agrees to plead guilty to some or all of the charges against him or her in exchange for concessions from the prosecutor," as stated by the Legal Information Institute, Cornell University.
NH Rev Stat Ann §625:8 provides a summary of the statute of limitations for criminal cases in the state of New Hampshire. Statutes of limitations prescribe periods of limitations for the bringing of certain kinds of legal action. With NH Rev Stat Ann §625:8, the statute of limitations applies to criminal cases. As a result of these set limitations, if the state of New Hampshire attempts to bring an action against an individual after the applicable time period has passed, that individual can have the case dismissed.
In a unanimous landmark decision regarding the search of cell phones, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the police must obtain warrants before searching suspects' cell phones in almost all situations. The decision acknowledged that the ruling could make law enforcement more difficult, but recognized privacy ought to respected, stating warrantless searches of cell phones is a violation of the Fourth Amendment that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. To read the entire ruling, visit the Supreme Court's opinion here.
Starting January 1, 2015, all trial attorneys in the state of New Hampshire will have the right to question panels of prospective jurors as part of jury selection. Civil attorneys have been able to conduct panel voir dire since 2005. By signing the bill into law in June, Governor Maggie Hassan has extended the right to criminal attorneys.
Contempt is "an offense at common law, a specific and substantive offense" that is separate and distinct from the matter in litigation out of which the contempt arose. Town of Nottingham v. Cedar Waters, 118 N.H. 282, 285 (1978) (quoting State v. Towle, 42 N.H. 540, 544 (1861)). The character and purpose of the punishment distinguishes the two classes of contempt. Id. In civil contempt, the punishment is remedial, coercive, and for the benefit of the complainant. Id. Civil contempt proceedings may result in money fines payable to the complainant or an indeterminate jail sentence until the contemnor complies with the court order. Id. Upon compliance with the court's order, the contemnor is released. State v. Wallace, 136 N.H. 267, 269 (1992). Thus, "the contemnor is said to carry the keys to the jail in his pocket and stands committed until he performs the affirmative act required by the court." Nottingham, 118 N.H. at 282. (quoting Gompers v. Buck Stove & Range Co., 221 U.S. 418 (1911)). In contrast, the purpose for punishing for criminal contempt is to vindicate the dignity of the court. Id. The sentence is punitive and determinate, and no amount of repentance will remit it. Id. (citing Stern v. Chandler, 134 A.2d 550 (Me. 1957)).