Defense of Criminal Charges
Reis & O'Keefe: New Hampshire Criminal Defense Attorneys
Defending people who have been charged with a crime is the foundation our practice. We have successfully handled cases for thousands of clients who have been charged with a wide variety of offenses. Many of these offenses can be grouped into distinct categories that demand specialized considerations. A representative sample of these categories and some of the related considerations is listed below.
For a fuller understanding of how the criminal justice system works, see our Guide to the Criminal Process in New Hampshire. If you have been arrested, are being investigated, or have been charged with a crime in New Hampshire, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation. We will listen to you, we will endeavor to understand your goals, and we will provide you with our very best advice.
Domestic Violence Related Offenses
In 2015, New Hampshire changed its domestic violence laws so that any conviction related to domestic violence will now appear on a criminal record check as a “domestic violence” offense. In addition to the normal penalties for these offenses, you have to pay a mandatory $50.00 fee for each conviction. A conviction will often also require extensive counseling that is both expensive and time-consuming. Any person who (1) is the subject of a restraining order, (2) has a pending domestic violence charge, or (3) has been convicted of a domestic violence charge is prohibited from possession a firearm under federal law. Moreover, in domestic violence cases, prosecutors will often pursue charges even when the accuser has made clear that his or her initial claim was false. In order to unravel why someone made an initial false claim, we believe that it is often essential to focus on why the accusation was initially made.
We represent juvenile clients accused of crimes and delinquent acts. We are not just lawyers, we are parents. We are passionate about protecting the rights and futures of children / teenagers who are caught up in the system. If you are a parent whose child has been arrested, charged with a crime, or subjected to a delinquency petition, read more about our juvenile defense practice.
Assault and Related Offenses
Assault, criminal threatening, and reckless conduct are charges that have many similarities. An effective defense strategy will focus on the type and degree of injury, whether there was any criminal intent at the time of the alleged act, and whether any act was justified by, for example, self-defense or competing harms ("competing harms" is New Hampshire’s version of the common law defense of necessity). Understanding the circumstances leading up to the allegation is critical to an effective defense, as is speaking with any witnesses before their memories fade. In these cases, we frequently litigate legal issues relating to who was the initial aggressor, the distinction between deadly and non-deadly force, and the differences between objective and subjective reasonableness. This is relevant to self-defense, defense of others, defense of premises and property, and other potential defenses.
Weapons charges present their own particular issues, and are subject to challenge on a variety of grounds. Targeted and steadfast litigation is often necessary to prevail in these matters. For example, possession of a firearm or other deadly weapon by a convicted felon in New Hampshire is illegal. However, we argued successfully in State v. Moulton, 04-S-363 (Strafford County Superior Court 2004) that a compound bow used exclusively for deer hunting did not fall under this prohibition (a position that was ratified by the New Hampshire Supreme Court several years later in State v. Pratte, 158 N.H. 45 (2008), an unrelated case).
Possession of a so-called “electronic defense weapon” by felons is prohibited. Nevertheless, in State v. Tabaldi, 165 N.H. 306 (2013), Attorney Reis argued successfully on appeal that the evidence regarding the capabilities of an “electronic defense weapon” was insufficient to support a conviction on that charge.
Possession of a loaded pistol without a license — on one’s person or in one’s vehicle — is illegal. However, Attorney Reis argued successfully on appeal in State v. Dor, 165 N.H. 198 (2013) that the pistol at issue was not “loaded” within the definition of the statute.
Theft, Fraud, Burglary, and Related Offenses
The level of the charge and the penalties for theft and shoplifting offenses can be enhanced in New Hampshire based upon either (1) the value of the items or (2) allegation of prior offenses. Recurring issues in these types of cases include whether there was an “intent to permanently deprive” someone of goods or services, whether goods were in fact “property of another,” and the value of the goods or services at issue. Many shoplifting charges are based upon video surveillance that purports to show that a crime was committed, when in fact the video is either inconclusive or arguably shows just the opposite — that no crime occurred. Burglary charges often hinge on whether, at the time of an entry into a home or business, there existed an intent to commit a crime within the structure. Additionally, these cases can involve DNA evidence, fingerprint evidence, toolmark evidence, footprints, and other physical evidence that must be effectively addressed in the litigation process.
White Collar Defense
So-called “white collar” cases often involve allegations of systemic or sophisticated theft and fraud. Our broad knowledge of business practices and norms is the foundation for our critical analysis of the prosecution’s claims. Depending upon the complexity of a given case, we may employ investigators and forensic accountants so that we can meticulously reconstruct business, bookkeeping, and tax records. Once we have a solid understanding of the facts of the case, we are optimally positioned to advocate for our clients, whether that be in the context of litigation or negotiation.
Controlled Drug Offenses
New Hampshire is at the epicenter of the opiate crisis that has engulfed the country. Certain healthcare providers have overprescribed pain medication, New Hampshire’s funding of educational and treatment efforts have been woefully inadequate, and far too many people still view substance abuse as a criminal justice “problem” instead of the healthcare issue that it is. Society cannot arrest its way out of this crisis, though some still cling to this outdated belief.
With respect to marijuana, New Hampshire has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. See RSA § 318-B:2-c. Nevertheless, even small amounts of marijuana are still unlawful to possess. Moreover, for those who are prescribed so-called “medical marijuana,” there are strict guidelines that must be followed by such patients. Learn more about the current state of marijuana-related criminal charges in New Hampshire.
In any controlled drug case, we look to whether the police adhered to the law when they acquired any evidence. If the police violated the constitutional prohibition against an illegal search of your person, car, or home, evidence may be suppressed such that it cannot be used against you. See State v. Eric Murphy, 218-2017-CR-1049 (Rockingham County Superior Court 2018) and State v. Kevin Whitney 218-2017-CR-1679 (Rockingham County Superior Court 2018). In these cases, we routinely look to see if the alleged controlled drugs are in fact “scheduled” by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) such that they are illegal, we determine whether any testing of the substances was done correctly, and we explore whether someone else may have committed the offense.
Facing a criminal charge can be a terrifying experience, but perhaps none is as terrifying as a charge of sexual assault. The mere allegation is enough to negatively affect employment prospects, cause grave damage to personal relationships, and destroy a person’s reputation. The consequences of a conviction of sexual assault in New Hampshire can include a very lengthy prison sentence, forced registration as a sexual offender, mandated treatment and polygraph testing, and harsh restrictions on housing. Read about our defense of sexual assault charges.
Driving While Intoxicated
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is one of the most common crimes. It also carries many mandatory minimum penalties. Each year thousands of everyday citizens including students, doctors, athletes, law enforcement personnel, and even lawyers may find themselves spending a night in jail courtesy of DWI laws. At Reis and O’Keefe, we have over 30 years of combined experience with DWI cases. Read about our defense of DWI / drunk driving charges.
Contact Our New Hampshire Criminal Defense Attorneys for a Free Consultation
New Hampshire criminal defense attorneys James Reis and Kevin O’Keefe have the knowledge and experience to effectively represent you — whatever the charge may be. We will listen to you, we will endeavor to understand your goals, and we will provide you with our very best advice. Whether your case involves litigation, negotiation, or both, we will be with you every step of the way.