Many of the people who get arrested for a crime in New Hampshire every day have never been arrested before. Having never been thrown into the criminal justice system, these people do not fully know what to expect, beyond what they may have seen on TV shows or in the movies. Unfortunately, the media does not often portray the criminal justice system correctly, taking huge liberties to make things seem more dramatic than they really are.
One of the most cited and celebrated rights in the United States of America is the right to a trial decided upon by a jury of one’s peers. When a person is facing criminal charges, they can elect to have a trial by jury, and their lawyer will defend them in court. While this is supposed to be a guaranteed right, oftentimes, many cases are resolved through plea bargaining with the prosecutor. Plea bargaining is basically a negotiation between defendant and prosecutor to work out a deal where the defendant accepts certain charges and their consequences, while the prosecutor offers to drop others. While plea bargaining can sometimes be the best case scenario, the New York Times has pointed out recently that overall, trials by jury are on the decline, and instead, most cases nowadays are being resolved through striking deals with the prosecutor, “behind closed doors,” as the article ominously suggests. The Times reported that in 1984 there were over 4,000 verdicts served by juries, and in 2015, that numbers has dwindled to fewer than half.
A Decline In Jury Trials
If the disproportionate divide between jury trials and plea deals is so large, what could have caused it? Where do these disparities come from? Supposedly fewer Americans are willing to serve on juries, and some New York judges are getting just a handful of criminal law trials in a year. In an article by Slate, it is also suggested that another issue that contributes to this decline in jury trials is heavy-handed prosecution. With so many statutes with just vague enough language, prosecutors can quite literally throw the book at defendants when it comes to determining charges. This means that the defendant, faced with an overwhelming number of charges, will be forced to choose between taking a plea deal that seems favorable compared to generate enough reasonable doubt in court for a multitude of charges. Trials are also presented to defendants as though they are gambles and last resorts, but only because trials are actually slowly starting to become those things themselves.
The Connecticut-based company, Purdue Pharma, has refused to comply with a subpoena for documents that detail its marketing practices in New Hampshire, arguing that the government’s use of a private law firm for the case is illegal.
Last year, Purdue was one of five drug companies subpoenaed by the attorney general’s office for illegal marketing practices. All of the companies refused to comply with the subpoena on the grounds that the government illegally used a private law firm to issue the subpoena. The private firm was set to gain financially from any payout the companies would have been required to pay.
But this spring, a judge ruled that the Attorney General could hire the firm for a flat fee. Purdue has continued to resist the subpoena.
This would not be the first time OxyContin was sued for marketing practices. In 2007 the company paid $630 in a settlement after being found guilty of misleading doctors and patients about the risks associated with the drugs.
Washington State has legalized recreational marijuana for those over the age of 21. Residents can obtain marijuana, legally, at their local dispensary without facing prosecution or charges for possession or purchase. However, some prefer to have their drug of choice delivered to them, which circumvents the protocols the state has put into place requiring that consumers present proper identification to verify their age. How can they do this? Some Washington residents have taken to one particularly clever method of gaming the dispensary. A recent trend that has popped up in Seattle is hiring delivery services to purchase marijuana from a dispensary and bring it to the client. Police caught wind of this trend, and began a sting operation to put it to an end.
Seattle Police Department set up a sting, posing as buyers and asking for pot delivered to a motel room. Officers made several arrests over the course of one day. Fortunately for their suspects, the police faced a point of contention with the prosecutor. The prosecutor declined to prosecute, citing that the activity from the sting was “unwarranted” and “disproportionate to the harm caused” and overall “would have little or no impact on the delivery business in Seattle.” The suspects of the marijuana delivery sting would have faced felony charges, had they been prosecuted.
Seattle Discusses Solutions
Heroin Addiction in New Hampshire – Heroin Epidemic in NH
There’s a disturbing trend going on in the Granite State, and has exceeded the fatality rate over traffic accident related deaths. According to latest statistics, heroin and other addictive substances killed about 300 people last year. Out of those deaths, 97 were caused by heroin addiction or its variants and combinations.
Even in a small town like Dover, there have been seven drug-related deaths in the last six months, averaging about two overdoses a week.
Several possible factors account for the heroin epidemic, such as the recession which causes depression enough for people to turn to drugs for comfort. The state also seems wanting in terms of state resources for prevention and treatment education, as well as imposition of tighter measures on heroin prescriptions. According to some sources, the drug is quite easy to manufacture in clandestine laboratories. Implementation of drug laws in the state didn’t seem adequate to curtail drug abuse.
Heroin Users & Stereotypes
New Domestic Violence Law in New Hampshire as of January 2015 – Joshua’s Law
A new law has recently been passed in New Hampshire that will provide greater protection for those who are victims of domestic violence. This New Hampshire law also known as Joshua’s Law was named after a young victim that passed away due to an abusive father. This radical new law will allow domestic violence to be placed in a category all of its own. In the past, the state of NH charged people who commend domestic violence with assault.
This change in the way domestic violence is categorized will allow the people who perpetrate these crimes to be better tracked. If someone in the future has one or more domestic violence charges on their record, a red flag is going to be sent out to both the police and the courts. This will keep them from falling into the cracks, and this also allows child protective services to better judge a home life situation.
A recent local news story concerning New Hampshire Motor Speedway general manager Jerry Gappens centers around NH’s public indecency and lewdness statute, RSA 645:1. As reported, Mr. Gappens was arrested last week and charged with lewdness after police allegedly spotted him engaged in sexual activity with a woman in the back seat of his Toyota Sequoya SUV. Detectives from the Manchester Police Street Crime Unit were monitoring illicit activities at around 5:45 p.m. near Lincoln and Manchester streets when they spotted a woman enter the passenger side of an SUV, which then drove toward Hanover Street, the police said. Manchester police officers followed the SUV into a parking lot where they say they “observed an act of lewdness take place in the vehicle.”Mr. Gappens, 53, along with Kendra Johnson, 19 was charged with a misdemeanor level offense.
Public Indecency and Lewdness in NH is defined as:
NH RSA 645:1 Indecent Exposure and Lewdness.
I. A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if such person fornicates, exposes his or her genitals, or performs any other act of gross lewdness under circumstances which he or she should know will likely cause affront or alarm.
II. A person is guilty of a class B felony if:
(a) Such person purposely performs any act of sexual penetration or sexual contact on himself or herself or another in the presence of a child who is less than 16 years of age.
(b) Such person purposely transmits to a child who is less than 16 years of age, or an individual whom the actor reasonably believes is a child who is less than 16 years of age, an image of himself or herself fornicating, exposing his or her genitals, or performing any other act of gross lewdness.
(c) Having previously been convicted of an offense under paragraph I, or of an offense that includes the same conduct under any other jurisdiction, the person subsequently commits an offense under paragraph I.
III. A person shall be guilty of a class A felony if having previously been convicted of 2 or more offenses under paragraph II, or a reasonably equivalent statute in another state, the person subsequently commits an offense under this section. Continue reading →
Last week New Hampshire State Police arrested two motorcyclists who were reported to have been driving at least 125 miles an hour in a 55 mile an hour area. The arrest was made on I-93 coming off of Route 101. State police say they had received complaint calls about the two, Rembert Zambrana, 34, and Erin Crete, 31, both of Litchfield, and were able to catch up with them about twenty minutes after the first complaint.
Zambrana and Crete are charged with reckless operation as well as transportation of marijuana, which the troopers say they found in the motorcycles. Reckless driving is defined as driving that would puts the lives or safety of the public in danger.
As you may recall, in mid-July, 2014 the NH Legislature recently amended reckless driving to include a set speed of 100 MPH or greater. Now driving faster than 100 miles an hour fits that classification. The result of this charge is much more serious than a standard speeding ticket and can include a fine of at least $500 and 60-day license revocation.
100 M.P.H. is Reckless Driving in New Hampshire
Driving faster than 100 miles an hour is not only breaking the speed limit in New Hampshire, it is now classified as reckless driving. And a driver pulled over going that fast will likely face a hefty fine and mandatory loss of license.
The state house and senate recently passed SB 246 making driving a vehicle at a speed of 100 miles per hour or greater reckless driving. It was a bill that the department of safety requested and went to the full house and senate tagged “ought to pass” with bipartisan support.
In NH, Reckless driving is much more serious than a standard speeding ticket. A reckless driving fine is at least $500 and includes a 60-day license revocation. Additionally, a second offense results in a $750 fine and a loss of license between 60 days and one (1) full year. Because of the manner in which reckless driving is classified, a convicted driver receives six demerit points on their motor vehicle record. These points stay on a driver’s record for five years. Receiving demerit points can also result in higher automobile insurance rates. It can also lead to being classified as a habitual offender, which could result in a jail sentence.
Believe it or not, what you post on Facebook is likely to stay online forever and what you post today can have an effect on you years down the road. The ubiquitous nature of social media has made it an unrivaled source of evidence that can be used against you in a criminal case. If you have been arrested for a crime and the postings on your social media sites are relevant to your alleged criminal activity, it can be brought up in a court case. and may assist the prosecution in obtaining a conviction. It would be wise to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer who is familiar with the laws on social media data and electronically stored information (ESI).
A judge or a jury only has to take one look at damaging photos or post that you willingly made on Facebook to determine what kind of person they think you are. Even if this isn’t your everyday normal behavior, just one photo of you doing something unethical can land you in hot water. So why take the chance when it comes to posting negative things on the largest social network in the world?
Big brother just might be watching you.
Doing something illegal and then posting a picture of the crime on Facebook is a sure way to land you in jail. Local authorities are getting wise to looking at the Internet and Facebook for subjective behavior. These agencies along with state and federal authorities often monitor Facebook, for acts of crime caught in a screen shot or a picture. Continue reading →