Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

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On a map of the United States that marks in red the states in which the death penalty is legal, New Hampshire appears as though a solitary island of red amid a sea of blue (indicating non-death penalty states.) The Granite State is one of just 19 states (and the only state northeast of West Virginia) to employ the death penalty. At present just one person sits on death row in New Hampshire, a man by the name of Michael Addison, who was sentenced after killing a police officer in 2008. There is no execution facility in the state. Despite having been on the books for decades, no one has been executed in the state since 1939. deathpenalty38-300x169

A 2008 poll in the Monitor found that at least 57% of those polled were in support of the death penalty. Thirty-nine percent were in favor of life imprisonment without parole while 4% remained uncertain. Despite being little more than a theoretical deterrent than an actual, frequently sentenced penalty, New Hampshire lawmakers are trying once again to repeal the death penalty in the state. The repeal may prove more symbolic as its tangible results will be largely imperceptible to the public – the one man who currently awaits execution would still be executed even if it is repealed. At the very least, it may engender at least some peace of mind for those accused of crimes in New Hampshire and who are currently eligible for the death penalty.

Two previous efforts to repeal the penalty have failed with a tied Senate vote each time.“On average, it costs about $5 million to do a total death penalty appeals process and all the stuff that goes with it,” said Representative Bob Giuda, a sponsor of the bill. “That’s one significant reason.” Senate Bill 593 appears it will make it through the Senate this time; it has the support of 13 out of 24 senators.

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Last month, a limited legalization bill was passed in New Hampshire, allowing adults to possess up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana. The bill also permitted the cultivation of up to six marijuana plants, three of which could be mature. It would be legal to possess an amount of marijuana in excess of the allotted three quarters so long as it was stored with the plant that produced it. This bill, passed in a 207-139 vote, overturned the decision of a House committee that had recommended against its passage last November. The bill had since been amended and subsequently passed. A commission is still weighing the possibility of legalizing retail sales of the substance. The University of New Hampshire published four consecutive polls that showed at least 60% of state residents were in favor of legalization.Marijuana-PotPenalties-300x197 Continue reading →

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Negligent Driving also known as Jessica’s law in NH

Let it snow , let it snow, let it snow…….But don’t you dare drive with that snow on your car or truck or you could be facing a $1000 fine, a 30 day loss of License and a 6 point major moving violation conviction….all under a charge known as Negligent Driving. NH RSA 265-79-b, also known as “Jessica’s Law”, requires motorists to remove snow and ice from their vehicles.  Failure to do so can result in some hefty penalties and consequences.Snow-on-Their-Cars-004-300x217

Jessica’s Law was passed into law by the New Hampshire legislature in 2001 ( subsequently amended in 2005)  in response to the death of Jessica Smith, a 20 year old woman who was killed when snow and ice flew off the top of a large truck and hit a second truck, resulting in a head-on collision with Jessica’s car.

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A Merrimack, New Hampshire woman has been charged after lying to police about an alleged crime. Thirty-three year old Kristin Miller told officers that she was stabbed by an unknown assailant while at her mailbox last month. After police uncovered evidence that Miller’s story was fabricated, she was charged with a class A misdemeanor of giving a false report to law enforcement — the penalty for which is up to one year in jail. Miller’s stab wounds were reportedly self-inflicted.falsereport-300x225

Medical personnel, fire and law enforcement were called to Miller’s home after the January 27th incident, where she recounted how a man had attacked her. She later received treatment, including surgery, at St. Joseph Hospital while police searched for a now at-large assailant. In the course of the investigation, police stopped vehicles and k-9 units tracked footprints in the snow.

“The information [given by Miller] was later discovered by investigators to be false… based on evidence recovered by said investigators.” It is yet unclear how investigators came to the determination that Miller’s story was fabricated and what the evidence is that induced that determination. It is clear that an arrest warrant was issued, and Miller was arrested and subsequently released on $1,000 personal recognizance. Arraignment is scheduled for February 22, 2018.

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A New Hampshire man on parole was recently arrested, charged with breaking into two businesses on Province Road in Laconia on Sunday. Police responded to a phone call reporting a burglary at one of the two locations, AKA Tools. The caller explained that the person in question fled while being confronted.parole848-300x200

Laconia police teamed with units of the New Hampshire state police, Belmont police and Gilford police to track and ultimately detain the suspect, near NH Electric Motors just after 10pm. The man, who fit the description given to police by multple witnesses, was identified as William Lee, 39, of Concord. According to officers, Lee explained that his presence inside the buildings of the businesses was authorized, but admitted to taking keys and a credit card. According to police, items from AKA Tools were found at NH Electric Motors. Someone from NH Electric Motors told authorities that a toilet had been ripped from the wall causing significant water damage.

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The New Hampshire court system has begun reassessing the sentences of so-called ‘juvenile lifers,’ those who have received life in prison without parole for crimes committed in adolescence. Many have contested the notion of condemning teens to life in prison. Research has shown their reasoning faculties are not on par with those of adults, and their pre-frontal cortex is not yet fully developed. This makes teens far more susceptible to acting on emotional impulse rather than reason. In 2012, the Supreme Court issued a ruling which made it unconstitutional to impose mandatory life sentencing without parole for juveniles, precisely because of their tendency towards recklessness and impulse.lifeinprison1

For the eligible group of NH juvenile lifers, the first resentencing has been handed down to one Eduardo Lopez, Jr. Lopez is 43 and serving life in prison for the murder of a Nashua resident while on a robbery spree in 1991, when he was 17 years old. Per the ruling of Judge Larry Smukler, Lopez will now be eligible for parole when he is 62.

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New Hampshire is taking steps toward reforming certain aspects of its criminal justice system. Victims’ rights advocates are spearheading these efforts, although the changes stand to have an equal and opposite effect on the accused/convicted. According to the Concord Monitor,”New Hampshire is one of 15 states that does not extend enumerated rights to victims of crime.” There is an implication that lawmakers were more concerned with putting provisions in place to protect criminal defendants, while failing to provide alleged crime victims with ‘parallel’ rights, if you will. As the movement gains traction, the chief concern of criminal defense advocates is that the new victim-serving provisions do not in turn infringe on the rights of criminal defendants.marsyslawac-300x195 Continue reading →

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In order to function effectively, the law must be a paradigm of impartiality. When any aspect of the law begins to act on emotional responses, they cease to be a fair and effective tool of justice. As New Hampshire publication Union Leader puts it, “Over the past few decades, some of New Hampshire’s most horrific crimes were committed by minors.” Almost all of these minors were tried as adults. Many were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole due to the gravity of the crime they committed. But this begs the question, why should children be tried as adults? The severity of a crime does not mean their mental faculties were any more developed than a child who commits a lesser crime.juvenile-300x198

Teens & the Ability to Reason vs. Feel

These decisions, sentencing minors to life without parole, fly in the face of the fact that adolescence is a time of neurological transition, with mountains of scientific evidence to support the notion that teens are subject to substantial limitations in judgement and maturity. These limitations persist until around the age of 25, when the pre-frontal cortex is fully developed. Until this time, teens use the comparatively “emotional” amygdala–part of the brain involved in experienced emotions–to process information and assess consequences.

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New Hampshire House Bill HB 1752-FN would require local law enforcement to obtain a warrant before having access to blood taken from a person being investigated for a DUI offense. House Speaker Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, said he and several colleagues are opposed to how the bill is written.  “There might be some way to make it more palatable,” said Chandler. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee are scheduled to discuss the bill in a public hearing.

A copy of the Bill is reproduced below. housebill-300x204

https://legiscan.com/NH/text/HB1752/id/1657953

 

HB 1752-FN – AS INTRODUCED

2018 SESSION

18-2669

01/04

 

HOUSE BILL 1752-FN

 

AN ACT requiring a search warrant to obtain blood samples.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Hynes, Hills. 21; Rep. Zaricki, Hills. 6; Rep. Ferreira, Hills. 28

 

COMMITTEE: Criminal Justice and Public Safety

 

—————————————————————–

 

ANALYSIS

 

This bill requires a search warrant to obtain certain blood samples.

 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

 

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.

18-2669

01/04

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eighteen

 

AN ACT requiring a search warrant to obtain blood samples.

 

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

 

1  Physicians and Surgeons; Confidential Communications.  Amend RSA 329:26 to read as follows:

329:26  Confidential Communications.  The confidential relations and communications between a physician or surgeon licensed under provisions of this chapter and the patient of such physician or surgeon are placed on the same basis as those provided by law between attorney and client, and, except as otherwise provided by law, no such physician or surgeon shall be required to disclose such privileged communications.  Confidential relations and communications between a patient and any person working under the supervision of a physician or surgeon that are customary and necessary for diagnosis and treatment are privileged to the same extent as though those relations or communications were with such supervising physician or surgeon.  This section shall not apply to investigations and hearings conducted by the board of medicine under RSA 329, any other statutorily created health occupational licensing or certifying board conducting licensing, certifying, or disciplinary proceedings or hearings conducted pursuant to RSA 135-C:27-54 or RSA 464-A.  This section shall also not apply to the release of blood or urine samples and the results of laboratory tests for drugs or blood alcohol content taken from a person for purposes of diagnosis and treatment in connection with the incident giving rise to the investigation for driving a motor vehicle while such person was under the influence of intoxicating liquors or controlled drugs unless compelled to disclose through a search warrant.  The use and disclosure of such information shall be limited to the official criminal proceedings.

2  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect January 1, 2019.

 

LBAO

18-2669

11/17/17

 

HB 1752-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT requiring a search warrant to obtain blood samples.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [    ] County               [    ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2019

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [ X ] Highway           [ X ] Other – Turnpike Fund

 

 

 

 

 

METHODOLOGY:

Based on the title and analysis of the bill, it appears the intent is to require a search warrant for the release of blood or urine samples and the results of laboratory tests for drugs or blood alcohol content taken from a person for purposes of diagnosis and treatment in connection with the incident giving rise to the investigation for driving a motor vehicle while such person was under the influence of intoxicating liquors or controlled drugs.  However, as drafted, the bill is unclear.

 

Assuming the bill would require a search warrant to obtain blood samples, the Judicial Branch provided the following fiscal information.  The Branch has no information on which to estimate how many warrants would be sought in the circuit and superior courts.  The cost of an average warrant request in the circuit court will be $72 in FY 2019 and $73 in FY 2020.  In the superior court the cost will be $279 in FY 2019 and $284 in FY 2020.  It should be noted that average case cost estimates for FY 2019 and FY 2020 are based on data that is more than ten years old and does not reflect changes to the courts over that same period of time or the impact these changes may have on processing the various case types.

 

The Department of Safety, assuming the bill requires a warrant to obtain blood samples, indicates the number of crashes a year where operators would be under investigation for operating under the influence is unknown therefore the potential increase in expenditures cannot be determined.  The Department assumes there would be no impact on state revenues.

 

The New Hampshire Municipal Association states this bill would not impact municipal revenues or expenditures.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Judicial Branch, Department of Safety, and New Hampshire Municipal Associatio

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The attorney general’s office is investigating the fatal shooting of an unarmed New Hampshire man by a New Hampshire state trooper. The shooting took place on the evening before Christmas eve, at the junction of Route 4 and Switch Road in the town of Canaan. Victim Jesse Champney, 26, was accompanied by his fiancée Saeti Tobin, 23, who was unharmed but shaken by the experience. The pair have both “had run-ins with the police” in the past, according to local news reports.policelinedownload-1-300x168

Enfield Man Shot By State Trooper After Crashing Into Field

State Trooper Christopher O’Toole, accompanied by fellow trooper Samuel Provenza, was following Champney’s vehicle for unknown reasons; Champney allegedly tried to evade the officer for fear he would be arrested on an outstanding warrant. After an attempted turn, Champney’s vehicle crashed but neither him nor his fiancée were injured. While Tobin remained in the vehicle, Champney fled into a nearby field while the trooper continued his pursuit. The trooper proceeded to fire four gun shots in Champney’s direction, all of which struck him and he was killed. Provenza did not discharge his firearm during the incident. Tobin, who has since spoken with reporters about the incident, insists Champney was unarmed and had no drugs in his possession, lamenting that Champney “just wanted to be with his family for the holidays.”

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