Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

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A family in Johnson County, Kansas has opened a case in federal court against the County, its Sheriff and seven deputies after some stunning events in 2012. The Harte family had their home raided in the early hours of the morning by a SWAT team searching for marijuana. The raid had been orchestrated for over seven months after officers noted Robert Harte making a purchase from a hydroponics store. After searching through the Harte family’s trash and finding a substance they believed to be marijuana the officers put plans for the raid into motion, and raided the family’s house on April 20, 2012 at 7:30 in the morning as the family was preparing for work and school.swat7-300x169

The Harte Family’s Case

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Lancaster, Ohio has recently put a temporary halt on field testing for drugs when examining a crime scene. This is in response to an incident reported in Connecticut last September, where 11 SWAT officers were all sickened after conducting a raid on a home. The officers threw a “flash-bang” device with the intent to stun anyone inside of the home, but instead, the explosion caused a high degree of fentanyl on a nearby table to go airborne.fentanyl1-300x168

Fentanyl is described by the CDC as a “rapid-acting opioid” that can alleviate pain without causing a loss consciousness. The drug can depress the central nervous system as well as a person’s respiratory functions. It is considered to be 80 times more potent than morphine, which is used as a medical anesthetic, and at least 100 times more potent than heroin. The drug, however, is not classified as a having a medicinal use, and is known only as a drug of abuse. When ingested, the drug severely inhibits a person’s ability to function. Fentanyl can be particularly dangerous because it can be absorbed through a variety of ways, including inhalation, oral ingestion, and even skin contact. It is classified as a Schedule I drug on both the federal and New Hampshire Drug Schedules.

Limiting Officer Interaction With Fentanyl

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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.

A common source of confusion for people who have never been arrested before is how bail works, and why it exists.Bail-300x198

How Bail Works

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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.juryjpeg-300x207

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.

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A pharmaceutical company that produces OxyContin, a powerful opioid painkiller, is under investigation by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office for deceptive marketing practices. Oxycontinaddiction-300x200

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.

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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. marijuana_58003945

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

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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. Heroin

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

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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. shutterstock_39879043

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.

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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. lewdness

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 →

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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.speedometer

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.

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