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No, you must appear at the time and place ordered by the officer or bail commissioner on the summons or complaint you received. You can submit a request to continue your hearing, however, until you have received written notice that your date has been changed, you must appear. Failing to appear will likely result in an arrest warrant being issued. Simply submitting a request does not change the fact that you must appear at the original date and time.
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The prosecutor’s office handles well over 1,000 adult cases at a time, Administrative License Suspension cases, Mental Health Court cases, Diversion cases, and is in court a minimum of two full days per week. For this reason, the best way to contact the prosecutor is to e-mail to set up an appointment to meet or speak. Because of the high volume of cases, it could be one to three weeks before you receive an e-mail response. You are encouraged not to leave voicemails as it could be several weeks before you receive a response and your issue may well have been resolved by that point.
Do not contact the Police Prosecutor until 1 week prior to your arraignment. Although there are exceptions, typically, an arraignment date will be approximately 8 weeks after an incident. Those accused of offenses who wish to discuss their case should not contact the Prosecutor until at least 5 weeks after an incident. The Prosecutor’s office is not in a realistic position to discuss cases with the accused until this time.
You will need to follow the instructions on the ticket(s), and answer it before the deadline listed. You have the option of challenging the ticket, or paying the ticket. You may pay the ticket via mail or directly to the Lebanon Circuit Court if the ticket is for a violation level possession of marijuana, or you may pay motor vehicle tickets via mail or directly to the Department of Motor Vehicles. You may pay parking tickets via mail or directly to Lebanon City Hall or the Lebanon Police Department. If you choose to challenge a ticket, you will need to follow the appropriate instructions on the ticket. The Court will then mail you a scheduling notice with a specific date and time you will need to be at Court. If the ticket issued says “must appear,” then you are required to be at Court on the date and time listed.
If you have been ordered to appear and released on a summons or complaint, you must appear at the time and date ordered by the Police Officer. A hand summons has weight similar to bail conditions. Failing to appear for the Court date can result in criminal charges.
An arraignment date is a time for you to first appear at court and plead guilty or not guilty to the charge that has been brought against you. If you do not appear at the time and place you are ordered, an arrest warrant will immediately be issued by the court, and you will be subjected to arrest and detention after the date of the arraignment. When you appear, you will have 2 options, to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, you must complete an acknowledgement and waiver of rights. The sentence for your offense can take a variety of paths. You can discuss those with the prosecutor, or plead guilty and discuss them with the Judge at the time of arraignment. If you plead not guilty, your date will be set for trial. At this time, bail may be reviewed. If you are charged with a Class A Misdemeanor or Felony, you may apply for a court appointed attorney by filling out a form at the clerk’s window. In all cases, you can hire your own attorney to defend you.
The right to a speedy, public, and impartial trial is guaranteed to every citizen by the United States Constitution, as well as the New Hampshire Constitution. In Circuit Court, the case is tried without a jury, and the Judge performs the jury's function of weighing the evidence, determining the credibility of witnesses, and issuing a verdict.
At trial, the prosecutor introduces the State's case first, and calls witnesses to testify. Those witnesses take an oath to tell the truth issued by the Judge, or the attorney asking the questions. The prosecutor then conducts a direct examination of the witnesses, and is required to ask open-ended questions designed for the witness to tell their story. The defense attorney then conducts a cross examination of the witness, and will likely ask only leading questions designed to tell the accused’s story, or designed to make a specific point that is instrumental to the defense. The prosecutor will then have a second opportunity to ask open-ended questions in a redirect examination, followed by the defense attorney having a second opportunity to conduct a recross examination. The redirect and recross examinations are typically much shorter than the initial questioning, and sometimes, are not even necessary.
Following the testimony of all of the State’s witnesses and introduction of all of its evidence, the State will rest its case. Typically, for procedural and tactical reasons, the defense attorney will immediately ask the judge to dismiss the case. If the Judge denies the request to dismiss at that time, the defense attorney will have an opportunity to call its witnesses to testify, or to call the accused himself/herself to testify. The accused is not required to submit any evidence of any kind. If the defense does call witnesses, that testimony will follow the same outline the prosecutor followed in the first half of the trial. The defense will rest at the end of their presentation of evidence as the State previously did.
After the State and defense have both rested, the Judge will make a determination whether the State proved the elements of charged offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes the Judge will ask for arguments from the prosecutor or defense before making a decision. If the Judge determines that the State met the beyond a reasonable doubt burden of proof, they will find the accused guilty. If not, the Judge will find the accused not guilty.
Witnesses in most criminal cases will be served a subpoena to appear in court. The subpoena is a record for the Prosecutor that the witness was notified, and demonstrates to the Court that the State has made a good faith effort to proceed with the case. The subpoena places the witness under a legal obligation to appear at the listed date and time for the hearing, and to remain until the trial is completed or the witness is excused.
In a criminal case in the State of New Hampshire, the only “parties” to a case are the accused and the State of New Hampshire. Only the State of New Hampshire and the accused can file motions with the court in the criminal matter. If a witness is unavailable, it is critical that they notify the prosecutor so that a motion to reschedule can be filed, but the decision to reschedule is ultimately up to the Judge. Failing to be present at court on the date and time listed on a subpoena may result in criminal contempt charges, possible fines, jail time, and/or probation.
Witnesses should appear at least fifteen minutes before the listed trial time to review any statements which had been given to the Police and have any questions answered. If you arrive early, look for the Officer who investigated the incident, or the Prosecutor.
TRIAL DATE AND TIME
The dates and times of court trials are set by the Clerk of Court's office at the Lebanon Circuit Court. The Clerk sends a scheduling notice to the Police Department and other parties, and then the prosecutor’s office issues subpoenas to any non-law enforcement witnesses. The dates or times of a Court date can only be changed by the Judge after a motion is filed by either by the State or the accused.
There are times when a case does not proceed to trial at the time listed on the Court Docket. The delay is often a result of an earlier scheduled case taking more time than was anticipated by the Court. The Police Department has no control over these scenarios. These delays typically do not last very long without the Court making some accommodations, however there may be exceptions.
There are also times when a case does not proceed to trial because a non-trial resolution is reached just before trial. Typically, the prosecutor has advanced notice of plea agreements, and their office will notify witnesses prior to trial that they are released from their subpoenas. However, unfortunately in those cases that an agreement is reached shortly before trial begins, advanced notice is not possible.
There are no specific requirements for court attire. However, the Court is a professional environment and demands respect from all who enter. It is recommended that all who attend are well groomed and wear business, or business casual clothing. Additionally, while not required, it is recommended that arrangements for child care be made ahead of the date and time of trial.
It is possible that the Judge may order the sequestration of witnesses. The intent is to ensure that the testimony of one witness will not influence the testimony of another. If sequestration is ordered, each witness who may be called to give testimony in a trial will be instructed not to discuss his or her testimony or any aspect of the case with anybody, either before or after he or she testifies, until the trial is over. When sequestered, witnesses will not be allowed to observe any other testimony prior to their testimony. Violation of an order of sequestration may result in a mistrial, and/or criminal contempt charges against the violating witness.
Witnesses who are subpoenaed to appear in the Lebanon Circuit Court are allowed a witness fee, set by the State of New Hampshire, for each day or part of a day they are in attendance. The State also pays a mileage fee, set by the State of New Hampshire, round trip to the Courthouse. The witness fee and mileage allowance are combined in one check.
Upon arrival at Court, you will check in with the Court Bailiffs or at the Clerk's Office. You will need to fill out paperwork to ensure compensation. Once you are done testifying, you need to report back to the Clerk's Office. The Clerk will send your compensation request to the State of New Hampshire. Witnesses should expect several weeks before payment is received.
VICTIMS – RIGHTS
Victims of certain offenses in the State of New Hampshire are entitled to additional rights than a typical witness. For more information, see http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/I/21-M/21-M-8-k.htm. If you are a victim pursuant to the laws of the State of New Hampshire, an advocate from the Grafton County Attorney’s Office or the Lebanon Prosecutor will reach out to you as soon as possible to update you on the status of the pending matter.
Generally, the maximum penalty for a violation level offense is a $1,000.00 fine, plus 24% penalty assessment (total $1,240.00).
Generally, the maximum penalty for a B misdemeanor level offense is a $1,200.00 fine, plus 24% penalty assessment (total $1,488.00).
On April 1, 2017, the Felonies First program which was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor went into effect. All Felony level offenses are now prosecuted by the Grafton County Attorney’s Office and hearings occur at the Grafton County Superior Court. Any and all questions regarding the status of these cases should be directed to the Grafton County Attorney’s Office, see http://www.co.grafton.nh.us/all-departments/attorneys-office/, or the Grafton County Superior Court, see https://www.courts.state.nh.us/courtlocations/grafsupedir.htm.
All Juvenile hearings are heard at the 2nd Circuit Court – Family Division – Lebanon. For questions regarding hearing dates, please contact the Lebanon Family Court, see https://www.courts.state.nh.us/courtlocations/famgraftdir.htm. Follow the same procedures for checking in with the Court Bailiffs or Clerk's Office as in an adult case. Juvenile proceedings are not open to the public and are held in rooms separate from those used for adult criminal trials. Important: it is a criminal offense to disclose the names or addresses of juveniles involved in Juvenile offenses.
MISDEMEANOR AND VIOLATION CASES
All misdemeanor, violation, and city ordinance cases are heard in the 2nd Circuit Court – District Division – Lebanon. For questions about court dates, pending charges, or how to file motions to continue or other requests, please contact the 2nd Circuit Court – District Division – Lebanon, see https://www.courts.state.nh.us/courtlocations/grafdistdir.htm.
No. NH RSA 159:19 Courtroom Security: No person shall knowingly carry a loaded or unloaded pistol, revolver, or firearm or any other deadly weapon as defined in RSA 625:11, whether open or concealed or whether licensed or unlicensed, upon his or her person or within any of his possessions owned or within his or her control in courtroom or area used by a court. Whoever violates the provisions of this paragraph shall be guilty of a class B felony. The provisions of this section shall not apply to marshals, sheriffs, policemen or other duly appointed or elected law enforcement officers, bailiffs and court security officers, or persons with prior authorization of the court for the purpose of introducing weapons into evidence.
No plea will be entered on your behalf, and a probable cause hearing will be set within 20 days.
Generally, the maximum penalty for an A misdemeanor level offense is a $2,000.00 fine, plus 24% penalty assessment (total, $2,480.00), 12 months in the House of Corrections, and 2 years of probation. If you are charged with an A misdemeanor, you may be eligible for court appointed counsel if you qualify for financial reasons. Please contact the 2nd Circuit Court – District Division – Lebanon for information on how to apply for court appointed counsel if you wish to do so. See https://www.courts.state.nh.us/courtlocations/grafdistdir.htm.