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Criminal Law in New Hampshire

We’ll go ahead and provide you with helpful educational information about New Hampshire criminal law; however each criminal case is unique. Your individual situation must be fully analyzed by a New Hampshire criminal defense lawyer to determine the best strategy for an effective defense.

The bottom line of this article is that it’s imperative that you consult with a New Hampshire criminal defense attorney if you have been arrested for a New Hampshire crime.

In this New Hampshire specific article, we’ll discuss:

  • New Hampshire criminal laws;
  • What you need to know about criminal defense in New Hampshire; and
  • How to work with your New Hampshire criminal defense attorney.

New Hampshire Criminal Laws

New Hampshire criminal laws are found in the New Hampshire Criminal Code, which is Title LXII of the New Hampshire Statutes. Criminal law designates certain actions or inactions as crimes to protect society and individuals.

There are hundreds of crimes listed in the New Hampshire Criminal Code. Examples include disorderly conduct,drug possession, child abuse, cruelty to animals, kidnapping, elder abuse, credit card crimes, incest, bigamy, trespass, arson, lewdness, indecent exposure, traffic offenses, DUI, computer stalking, domestic abuse, perjury, defamation, theft, shoplifting, criminal mischief, and indecent exposure.

Statute of Limitations
In general, criminal charges must be filed against you within a certain period of time.

For example, the New Hampshire statute of limitations for:

  • Assault is 1 or 6 years, depending on the facts of the case (N.H. Rev. Stat. В§ 625:8(I)(a) or (b) or (c)).
  • Capital murder, first-degree murder, or second-degree murder is unlimited (N.H. Rev. Stat. В§ 625:8(II)).
  • Theft is 1 or 6 years, depending on the facts of the case (N.H. Rev. Stat. В§ 625:8(I)(a) or (b) or (c)).

New Hampshire has the death penalty, but no one has been executed since 1939. However, technically, you can be sentenced to death for murder.

Punishment such as probation, education, counseling, community service, fines, restitution, jail, and capital punishment are used to deter future criminal behavior, provide restitution, protect society, and encourage rehabilitation.

New Hampshire has sentencing guidelines that provide a standard range of punishments. Judges base punishment on these guidelines as well as that totality of the circumstances. They analyze:

  • What is the previous criminal history of the individual convicted?
  • What are the circumstances surrounding the crime?
  • Was violence part of the crime?
  • How serious is the victim’s injury?
  • Where any other additional criminal offenses were committed?

Here is a sampling of sentences from the New Hampshire sentencing guidelines:

  • A first-offense possession of cocaine or heroin has a maximum penalty of 7 years in jail plus fines. This is a Class B felony in New Hampshire.
  • If it’s your second offense, punishment starts at 7 years in jail, plus fines and it’s considered to be a Class A felony.
  • Traffic offenses are punishable by fines, but not jail time; however, DUI is not a traffic offense and is punishable by fines, jail, suspension of driver’s license, educational class, and a treatment program.

What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense

Your life, liberty, and money – your entire future – may be at risk. If you have been arrested for a crime in New Hampshire, seek legal counsel.

This is what you need to know about criminal defense:

  • Attorneys are not all the same. You need a qualified New Hampshire criminal defense lawyer and you need one immediately.
  • What you say to your attorney is confidential. You need to be completely honest and open with your attorney. Lying or leaving facts out may land you in jail.
  • What you say can and will be used against you. Do not make a statement to police, other than to ask for an attorney.

How to Work with a New Hampshire Criminal Defense Lawyer

Your defense depends upon your cooperation, good sense, and patience. Criminal defense is not a spectator sport; you need to do your part for your own defense.

This, in addition to whatever your criminal defense attorney tells you, is what you need to do:

  • Take all advice proffered by your attorney. You’re paying for legal advice.
  • Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it. Tell your defense attorney exactly what happened.
  • Return all law firm phone calls promptly.
  • Provide all information requested by your law firm in a timely manner.
  • Make sure the criminal defense law office has your current address and phone number.
  • Be patient.
    • Your attorney may ask you hard questions or make you angry. This is normal and an important part of the development of your defense.
    • If your defense attorney says something or asks something, it’s important.
    • Your attorney will likely be polite and cooperative with police officers, witnesses, the alleged victims, investigators, and the prosecutor. This is normal, professional, and an important part of the development of your defense

Bottom Line: Qualified criminal defense attorneys know criminal law, understand the criminal charges against you, and know how to best put forward a strong and strategic defense. To find a New Hampshire Criminal Defense Attorney, search our website,, or ask the bar association or friends for referrals. Do not hesitate.

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