Criminal Law FAQ
- What should I do if I’m accused of a crime in New Hampshire?
- Why do I need an attorney?
- What is the initial consultation like, and what can I expect when I meet with you for the first time?
- Are there specific paperwork and documents that I should bring?
- What are the types of criminal defense cases you work on?
- I did not see a specific crime listed on your website, should I still contact you?
- I know I screwed up. Should I still hire a lawyer?
1. What should I do if I’m accused of a crime in New Hampshire?
First thing someone should do is not answer questions from the police and ask for a lawyer, then get any paperwork you can from the court, and take a look and read that. You should also get paperwork from the police, and take a look and read that. Then, the last thing that you should do is reach out to an attorney.
2. Why do I need an attorney?
A person needs an attorney in a criminal case because the consequences of a criminal case are very serious, you could go to jail. For a lot of people, going to jail means losing a job, and losing a job means all sorts of other things. It may be harder to get a job in the future. A criminal conviction could impact somebody’s professional credentials. The stakes are really high, and you need a lawyer to help you understand what those stakes are, and to navigate your set of choices in the criminal justice system.
Another reason you need an attorney is because, unlike in any other case, in a criminal case, the State, your opponent, has a system that’s already been set up; that’s been working for decades in how to most efficiently and most effectively prosecute people that are charged with crimes. They have an enormous built in advantage, that a person who is accused of a crime for the first time, or accused of a crime in the second time, has no idea how to deal with. That’s why an attorney, somebody who’s done work in the criminal justice system before, will understand where those advantages are, and how to best counteract those advantages.
3. What is the initial consultation like, and what can I expect when I meet with you for the first time?
When you meet with me the first time and we go through the case, I’m going to ask a bunch of questions. Some of them make perfect sense, and some of them might not seem related to the incident (though they actually are). The reason I’m asking the questions is not only to figure out what happened, but also to figure out what legal defenses somebody might have.
The initial consultation will involve a lot of questions about what happened when you were arrested, what happened right before you were arrested, what happened when the police took you into custody, if they took you into custody, and then what happened once you got to the police station, if they took you to the police station and asked you questions.
There are lots of things that happen in a criminal case that have to be done with very, very careful set routines within the criminal law. When they give you your Miranda rights, it has something to do with how and where they question you. Whether they can stop your car has something to do with what was going on before they stopped your car. In an initial consultation, there will be lots of questions about, “What happened next?” Then there will be questions that seem to be unrelated to the actual charge, but are going towards gathering information about defenses.
Another part of an initial consultation, ideally, is that the person would have paperwork, and that we could go through the paperwork, and I could explain to them, “This is what this piece of paper means, and this is what we need to do in response.” The final part of an initial consultation is I’d hopefully be able to lay out a case path for them. If it’s a misdemeanor, I can tell them, “This is what will happen in this court hearing. If we don’t resolve it, then this will be the next court hearing. In a felony, the process is much more complicated, so I go through that with them.
4. Are there specific paperwork and documents that I should bring?
If you’re coming in as an initial consultation on a criminal case, I would want to see, in the best case scenarios, three documents. I’d want to see all of the complaints, I’d want to see the person’s bail conditions, and I’d would to see discovery from the case. If the person doesn’t have discovery, that’s probably the one that we can work with most easily. The other two are really foundational things that I need to have in order to provide any meaningful advice, and to make sure that the person doesn’t do something that runs afoul of their bail conditions, which can happen pretty easily, especially in cases involving family members.
5. What are the types of criminal defense cases you work on?
When I was working for the Public Defender, I started out by taking low level misdemeanors and juvenile cases. I worked my way up to doing homicides. I’ve been a defense lawyer for almost every charge you can think of, from a DWI to a simple assault involving a family member, all the way up to crimes involving the death of people. In addition to that, I’ve done many jury trials in my years at Public Defender, and then a lot more than a dozen, maybe two dozen, I think probably around 22, jury trials. I stopped counting the number of bench trials I did at the Public Defender. I’ve handled every kind of case. I’ve taken every kind of case to trial, or I’ve taken many different kinds of cases to trial.
Basically, anything that involves a crime, I’ve handled. From an insurance fraud case, to a DWI, to a homicide, to charges involving family members as victims. The full gamut of cases that people could get charged with.
6. I did not see a specific crime listed on your website, should I still contact you?
Yes, absolutely. Going back to why you need a lawyer, the legislature makes new and complicated charges almost every year. Most recently, in 2015/2016, they passed a statute, and the statue went into effect. They created a whole new class of crimes that are called domestic violence. They used to be separated into the individual categories in the criminal code. If you get in a fight, it’s usually charges of simple assault. Now, if you get in a fight with a family member, it could be simple assault and this crime called domestic violence.
Even if a crime is not listed on the website, it’s probably not listed there for reasons that it’s too difficult to list every crime. Call, and we’ll at least be able to talk you through some of the process.
7. I know I screwed up. Should I still hire a lawyer?
The idea that somebody says to me, “I know I screwed up on this criminal charge, why should I hire a lawyer?” I think that that’s a common sentiment that a lot of people have. I think that is a sentiment that, if you’re a good person, you’re going to think that to yourself. The reason is that we’ve been taught from childbirth that we need to understand the consequences of actions. Hiring a lawyer does not mean that you’re going to get away from the consequences of those actions. It just means that you’re going to make those consequences as fair, and as appropriate to you and your case as possible.
If somebody said, “Look, I was playing football this weekend and I broke my leg, and I don’t feel like I should go to the doctor because I know I screwed up,” no one thinks that. People need to have that same attitude when they’re facing criminal charges. That just because you got charged with a crime, and just because you think that you’ve screwed up, doesn’t mean that you don’t need or deserve help.