New Hampshire Court Records
What Do You Do if You Are on Trial for a Crime in New Hampshire?
When put on trial in New Hampshire, defendants have the opportunity to argue their case before a judge/jury. Many criminal cases handled by the state judiciary are settled by agreements between the state and the defendants. Usually, a plea negotiation involves the defendant entering a guilty plea to avoid the trial process. However, failure of both sides to strike a plea bargain leads to the commencement of trial procedures.
What Percentage of Criminal Cases go to Trial in New Hampshire?
A small percentage of criminal cases go to trial in New Hampshire. Typically, after a person is charged for a crime, the accused may either plead guilty or not guilty. Most times, accused persons enter plea deals with the prosecutors of their cases, where the accused pleads guilty in exchange for a lesser charge. Defendants that do not find the plea agreements favorable proceed to trial where the court decides the laws and facts of their case. Most criminal cases in New Hampshire end in plea deals, after which a sentencing hearing is scheduled.
When does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?
Article 14 of the Bill of Rights in the New Hampshire Constitution guarantees that every citizen of the state has a right to justice without any hindrances, delay, or denial. Defendants are entitled to impartial and speedy trials in New Hampshire regardless of the crimes they are accused of. A trial usually occurs after an indictment by a grand jury or if a probable cause was determined during the preliminary hearing.
What are the Stages of a Criminal Trial in New Hampshire?
- Jury Selection
- Opening Statements
- Order of Evidence and Testimony of Witnesses
- Closing Arguments
- Jury Instructions
- Jury Deliberation
How Long Does it take For a Case to Go to Trial in New Hampshire?
The length of time it takes for a case to go to trial in New Hampshire depends on the severity of the offense. Typically, the preliminary hearing to determine the probable cause is done ten days after arraignment if the defendant is in custody and twenty days after arraignment if the defendant is not in custody. The trial procedure ensues after a probable cause has been established successfully. Following the state’s Superior Court Speedy Trial Policy, the disposition of misdemeanor cases must occur within six months from the date of entry and felony cases within nine months from indictment. Failure to adhere to this may result in a hearing to decide if the case should be dismissed for lack of a speedy trial. Cases against incarcerated defendants are also expected to be disposed of within four months or it results in a possible violation of the speedy trial policy.
What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in New Hampshire?
Jury selection: While misdemeanor criminal cases in New Hampshire District Court are heard by a judge, a jury of twelve people hear trials on felonies in the Superior Court. The court must guarantee that each juror in the panel is qualified and just.
Opening Statements: Unlike the Superior Court, opening statements are usually not allowed in the Circuit Court except with the court’s permission for a good cause. The prosecutor makes their opening statements first, and the defense may follow immediately or wait till the prosecutor is done with the presentation of evidence. Opening statements are usually not argumentative and have a timeframe of thirty minutes.
Order of Evidence and Testimony of Witnesses: The prosecutor presents evidence in its case-in-chief and can introduce some evidence through witnesses. The defense follows suit after the prosecutor. The court allows an attorney from each side to examine and cross-examine witnesses presented by the opposing side. Witnesses are also subject to recall if the court permits.
Closing Arguments: Each side has an hour to present their arguments except as stated otherwise by the court. Upon the presentation of evidence and witnesses, the defense makes their closing arguments first and the prosecutor argues last. If an attorney wishes to read an excerpt of testimony prepared by the court reporter to the jury, they must provide a copy of the excerpt to the opposing side.
Jury Instructions: The judge reads a set of instructions to the jury and either party may request particular instructions with the consent of the court.
Jury Deliberation: The jury retires after receiving instructions to deliberate on the case and make a verdict.
Verdict: For non-jury trials, the court makes a verdict within a reasonable time after the trial. The verdict from a jury must be an undisputed decision, and it is delivered in open court.
Can you be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in New Hampshire?
No, individuals cannot be put at risk of being tried twice for the same crime in New Hampshire. Article 16 of the state’s Bill of Rights ensures that defendants are not liable to be tried for the same offense upon the acquittal of a crime. The state’s legislature cannot subject any citizen to a capital sentence without a trial by an impartial jury.
How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in New Hampshire?
Generally, individuals can obtain information on New Hampshire criminal cases at the court that the case was filed. Querying parties can contact the custodian of the court records and request the desired case if it is non-confidential. The state’s judiciary site provides a search tool that interested parties can use to find court locations and contact details of the court administrators. Alternatively, some third-party websites also provide access to criminal court cases in New Hampshire. Such websites may need some details on the case to retrieve more information.
How to Access Electronic Court Records in New Hampshire?
The New Hampshire Judiciary site provides access to electronic court records on its case information page. Interested persons can get available court records maintained by the state courts. However, the general public has limited access to court records on the case information page and may need to contact the custodian for more information.
How Do I Remove Public Court Records in New Hampshire?
To remove public court records in New Hampshire, interested persons can petition the appropriate court to have the desired records annulled if they are eligible under RSA 651:5. The steps involved in removing eligible court records include:
- Completing and filing the petition to annul records form
- A clerk issues an order of notice to all the parties involved within seven days of the filing. The concerned parties may respond within thirty days.
- Although a court may grant a petition without hearing, a hearing will be held if requested by the petitioner.
- Upon the issuance of annulment, the court maintaining the said records shall remove it from the public’s view. Petitioners may appeal dismissed petitions after three years.