Tuesday, February 9, 2016

New Laws for 2016 in New Hampshire

Three ways to lose out in 2016 – lose your money, lose your reputation and lose your liberty. Amongst the many new laws of 2016, here are three quick points to bear in mind and to consider:
 Losing Money

1.    The failure to yield/move over law enacted for 2016 going forward results in an increased fine for anyone convicted of failing to yield to emergency vehicles.  Not only does this include roadside motor vehicle stops by police but also fire trucks and ambulances, as well as plow trucks, and tow vehicles that are assisting law enforcement or fire department personnel.  To avoid a motor vehicle offense, motorists must make every attempt to distance themselves from the scene by pulling into the neighboring lane and giving as wide a berth as possible to these emergency vehicles.  Fines for subsequent convictions have also increased.  The choice is yours: Either “move over or fork over” money to the State.

Losing Your Reputation
2.    There has been a new enactment and provision to the sex offender/lewd and obscene behavior statute.  Going forward, any sexual or obscene-type act that is witnessed by someone under the age of sixteen (16) can result in a criminal complaint being filed under the sex-offender statute.  While most people will think that type of situation could never happen to them, the way this statute is written is meant to “expose” individuals to a new charge. For example, any type of public urination that is witnessed by someone under 16 could bring about this charge.  Furthermore, sexual relations between consenting adults that is witnessed in public by someone under 16 could also bring about this charge.  In essence, and in practical terms, that spontaneous moment between couples on a beach, hiking trail, picnic spot or open field, if witnessed by any person under the age of 16, could result in arrest and a criminal complaint.  The publication of this charge falls under the sex offender statute and, thus, your reputation and public perception could be immediately lost. Therefore, the classic cliché of “get a room” absolutely applies and is the best advice, legal or otherwise, you could get in such situations.

Losing Your Liberty

3.    The restraining order/stalking statutes have been amended and now include a provision requiring mandatory incarceration for any violation of an existing court order.  Prior to 2016, if someone was granted a restraining order against another individual and an alleged violation of said order occurred, the bail commissioner and the police department had discretion, based upon the severity of the offense, as to whether or not to release the alleged offender or hold him/her until a judge could make a determination.  However, as of January 1, 2016, any alleged violation of a restraining order or stalking order will result in mandatory incarceration until such time as a judge determines the safety of the victim and the likelihood of repeat offenses.  In practical terms, if an alleged violation occurs in a husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend situation, for which there is an existing court order, it will now result in mandatory incarceration until the matter is addressed by a judge. For example, if an alleged violation for a phone call, drive by of the residence, incidental/accidental contact at a restaurant, a department store, or a public parking lot occurs on a Friday evening, this could result in you being held at the County Jail until Monday morning for court, or worse case until Tuesday, if there is a holiday observed by the court and they are closed on Monday.  Thus, a temporary of loss of good judgment could now result in an immediate loss of liberty for several days. If you have questions regarding these new laws or other are facing incarceration you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney in New Hampshire.

By Robert Bartis