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Accused Of Murder In New Hampshire—What Happens Next?

An accused man’s hands in handcuffs resting on a table

Being charged with murder can be terrifying. If convicted, the accused could face decades in prison. Even if the person is exonerated, his or her life may never go back to what it was before the charge. If you are facing criminal charges in New Hampshire, remember that you have rights, including the right to qualified legal representation and a fair trial. Consider contacting a criminal defense lawyer at Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC, who will work to protect your rights and fight for your freedom. Call (603) 707-4800 today to schedule a free case evaluation.

Murder, Manslaughter, and Homicide in New Hampshire—What Is the Difference?

The first step in understanding what comes next after being accused of murder is to determine what exactly you have been charged with. New Hampshire has several degrees of felony homicide charges that apply to someone accused of causing the death of another person. 

Negligent Homicide

According to Title LXII Section 626:2 of the New Hampshire Criminal Code, negligent homicide is the least serious charge. When someone negligently, unintentionally, causes the death of another person, the crime is considered negligent homicide. Under New Hampshire law, negligence is defined as a gross deviation from how a reasonable person would have acted given the same set of circumstances. The penalty for negligent homicide is 3.5 to 7 years in prison unless it was the result of a DWI or DUI charge. In that case, the sentence is 7.5 to 15 years in prison.

Manslaughter

Manslaughter charges, according to the New Hampshire Criminal Code Title LXII Section 630:2 are brought against someone who recklessly causes the death of another person. Manslaughter charges can also be brought against someone who was under extreme mental or emotional distress caused by provocation. This charge is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Murder

Murder is the most serious homicide charge. In New Hampshire, the charge of murder is divided into the following three degrees:

  • Second-degree murder is knowingly causing the death of another person or causing the death of another person through extreme reckless and gross lack of consideration for the life of another. This charge is punishable by up to life in prison, although the offender has a chance for parole.
  • First-degree murder is intentionally causing the death of another person. This charge also applies to knowingly causing a person’s death while committing robbery, burglary, or rape while armed with a deadly weapon. First-degree murder is punishable by life in prison without the chance of parole.
  • Capital murder, according to Title LXII Section 630:1 of the New Hampshire Criminal Code, is the most serious homicide charge in New Hampshire. This charge applies when someone intentionally causes the death of a judicial or law enforcement officer in the line of duty or during the commission of a burglary, a drug crime, rape, or kidnapping. Capital murder was formerly punishable with the death penalty, but since New Hampshire recently repealed the death penalty, a capital murder conviction results in life in prison without the chance of parole.

Your Rights After Being Accused of Murder

Even people who have been charged with capital murder still have rights, and a criminal defense lawyer from Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC, may be able to help protect them. The New Hampshire and United States Constitutions provide the following rights to those accused of murder:

  • The right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions from police officers if the answer could connect the person to criminal activity
  • The right to a speedy and public trial, either a bench trial before a judge or a jury trial
  • The right to a lawyer if the charge could result in prison time; the state will pay for one if the accused cannot afford an attorney
  • The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in court beyond a reasonable doubt
  • The right to change the location of the trial if a judge believes a fair trial is unlikely in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred
  • The right of the accused to testify in his or her own defense and the right to refuse to testify
  • The right to be present at all stages of the case
  • The right to cross-examine any witnesses testifying against the accused
  • The right to present witnesses
  • The right to present information to a judge at the time of sentencing to possibly mitigate the punishment
  • Protection from being prosecuted again for the same offense if initially acquitted (i.e., no “double jeopardy”)

The Criminal Process: What To Expect

Each murder case in New Hampshire has its own unique details. However, the process will generally proceed in the following manner:

  • Arrest: The warrant will be signed by a judge.
  • Arraignment in District Court: Arraignments usually take place within 24 hours of arrest. In the arraignment, the accused may enter a plea of not guilty, have an attorney appointed if needed, and set a date for the Probable Cause hearing
  • Probable Cause Hearing: These will be held before a District Court judge. The prosecutor must present enough evidence to show reasonable grounds that the accused committed the crime. The defense attorney may cross-examine witnesses and present evidence showing that probable cause does not exist.
  • Grand Jury: A grand jury evaluates the evidence and determines if there is enough to formally charge (indict) the accused with the crime.
  • Superior Court Arraignment: This form of arraignment serves the accused with the grand jury’s indictment. The accused can enter a plea, and the trial will be scheduled if the plea is not guilty. At this time, the accused may petition for bail.
  • Pre-Trial Motions. The court may schedule hearings for these, such as a hearing to suppress certain evidence.
  • Trial in Superior Court: Both sides will present and cross-examine evidence. The jury must be unanimous in a murder charge. If the accused is acquitted, he or she will be free to go.
  • Sentencing Hearing: If the accused is convicted at trial, or pleads guilty in a plea arrangement with the prosecutor, the next step is a sentencing hearing.

Contact a New Hampshire Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

You have the right to an attorney from the moment you are arrested for murder in New Hampshire. Although you are permitted to represent yourself throughout the legal process, you may wish to consider taking advantage of your Constitutional right to an attorney. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can advise you during police interrogations to help prevent your words from being used against you. An attorney can also start investigating the incident to build a case for your defense. The attorney may have access to a variety of resources, and these may be especially critical if the accused cannot make bail and must remain in jail while awaiting trial. If you have been accused of murder in New Hampshire, even the most complex murder cases, consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney from Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC, by calling (603) 707-4800 today to schedule a consultation. 

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About the Attorney
Jesse Friedman

Jesse has personally represented thousands of clients throughout the State - from juvenile delinquency offenses through homicides. He has extensive trial and litigation experience and has obtained favorable outcomes for thousands of clients throughout the years.

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