New Hampshire Juvenile Offenses
In New Hampshire, for all but the most serious felonies, when the State prosecutes people who are under 18 years of age, they are prosecuted under a completely separate system of laws — the laws governing "juvenile delinquency" — and in a separate court system: the family courts rather than the district courts and superior courts where adults are prosecuted for crimes.
Effective July 1, 2015, the cutoff age between "juveniles" and "adults" for purpose of the criminal justice system in NH was raised from age 17 to age 18. This means that less teenagers in trouble with the law will be warehoused in jail, and more will receive the rehabilitative services that they need. Further, the juvenile court system is closed to the public, protecting the privacy of vulnerable teenagers and helping avoid publicity in the news and on the internet, which can follow a young person for a long time. ...
However, under the State and Federal Constitutions, juveniles in trouble with the law still enjoy most of the constitutional protections afforded to adults, such as:
- The right to a trial.
- The right not to be found guilty unless guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
- The right to confront and cross-examine witnesses.
- The right to testify in one's own defense and call witnesses in one's own defense, through the subpoena process.
- The right to remain silent, during trial and also at all stages of the proceeding, including when the police are investigating the case. In fact, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has set a higher standard for the police when they seek to obtain a "waiver" of the right to remain silent from a juvenile, in order to conduct an interrogation.
However, in most cases, juveniles do not have the right to a jury trial.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
In order to effectively exercise the fundamental constitutional rights listed above, the juvenile must be represented by an experienced and skilled criminal and juvenile court defense attorney. Attorneys Ted Lothstein and Richard Guerriero both have extensive experience working with juveniles and their families in the family court. If your child or family member is being investigated for a crime committed in New Hampshire, or is summonsed to appear in a New Hampshire family court as an accused juvenile delinquent, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.