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Drug Cases

Ted Lothstein and Richard Guerriero have represented many clients charged with felony and misdemeanor drug crimes in NH's District Courts, and Superior Courts, throughout the State; and in the United States District Court - NH (federal court).

What Types of Drug Charges do we Handle?

We handle felony and misdemeanor drug charges, possession, distribution and conspiracies, in State and Federal court.  

Generally, if a case is charged in federal court (the United States District Court - NH), it will involve distribution or the possibility of distribution rather than mere possession, and generally speaking, will involve large quantities of narcotics and the potential for very lengthy sentences.  

In New Hampshire District Courts, we handle misdemeanor drug prosecutions, such as possession of marijuana, or possession of prescription drugs, that are not controlled drugs, without a prescription.  Felony drug cases also begin with an arraignment and probable cause hearing in district court.

In New Hampshire Superior Courts, County Attorney prosecutors obtain indictments from grand juries for felony drug charges, such as possession of any controlled substance other than marijuana, distribution of any controlled substance, or manufacture of any controlled substance.  In Superior Court, we have repressented clients accused of growing marijuana,  selling controlled drugs to informants and undercover officers, possessing "hard drugs" such as heroin or cocaine, and causing motor vehicle accidents while under the influence of controlled drugs.

What Types of People Tend to Hire Us after being Accused of Drug Crimes?

We have represented people from all walks of life, charged with drug crimes in State and Federal crimes, including

  • High school and college students charged with drug crimes - from community colleges to Ivy League schools and everything in between -- clients who are students at the University of New Hampshire, Keene State, Plymouth State, Dartmouth College, Colby-Sawyer College, New England College, NHTI... and clients attending colleges in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, and beyond.
  • We have represented professionals, people in the construction trades, businessmen and women, sales people with stressful jobs who travel all over the region and are rarely home... even an ex-Marine who succumbed to prescription drug abuse after being over-prescribed pain killers.  
  • We have represented clients with security clearances or law enforcement careers or other issues that place them in great peril when faced with a drug charge.

In short, we have seen that drug charges - and problems with drugs - can afflict just about anyone. 

NH Laws Governing Drug Charges in State Court 

In NH state courts, possession of less than 3/4 ounce of marijuana is about to be decriminalized, which means that possession of mariuana is still illegal, but it's a non-criminal infraction of the law. Here is a summary of the new Bill which will become law if and when signed by NH's Governor.

Even if the decriminalization bill becomes law, possession of more than 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana will remain a misdemeanor. We expect that most of these cases will be charged as class A misdemeanors, which means the possibility of a jail sentence up to a year, up to 2 years of probation, and up to a $2000.00 fine.

Possession of any other drug, whether an illegal drug or a controlled drug, will generally be charged as a felony.  The potential penalties vary widely, based on factors such as the weight involved, the number of times that drugs were possessed or sold, the number of "co-defendants" (people charged in the same criminal enterprise or conspiracy), whether the client has a prior drug conviction, whether the offense took place in a school zone, and many other considerations.

Just to give one example: a person charged with possession of less than one gram of heroin faces a felony prosecution with a maximum sentence of 7 years in prison and a $100,000.00 fine -- if none of the potential aggravating factors apply.  An aggravating factor can double the maximum sentence.  The sentencing law for drug offenses in NH is exceedingly complex.   

NH does not generally use "mandatory minimum" sentence laws for drug charges.  This means that in most cases, a person charged with felony possession or distribution of narcotics can face anything from a diversion program (no conviction), to probation and treatment, to a sentence to spend several months in a county house of correction, to being sentenced to serve many years in the NH State Prison.  

Loss of Driver's License for Possession of Drugs in Vehicle

Finally, a person convicted of "Possession of Drugs in a Motor Vehicle", or "Transportation of Drugs", faces a mandatory minimum 60 day loss of license as well as the possibility of fines and jail if charged as a class A misdemeanor. The maximum license suspension under the law for posssession of a controlled drug in a motor vehicle is two years.

State court drug charges are prosecuted by local police departments or regional prosecutors if a misdemeanor in district court; or by County Attorney Offices if a felony in Superior Court.

Laws Governing Drug Charges in Federal Court

Richard Guerriero and Ted Lothstein have represented many clients charged with drug offenses in federal court.  In fact, the United States District Court - NH is right across the street from our Concord office.  Ted Lothstein has also represented clients, convicted of drug offenses, on appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.  

Generally, federal prosecutors indict people accused of being involved in relatively large scale distribution, although the client is often a an addict who is being exploited by people higher up in the drug conspiracy and sells only enough to support his or her own habit.  We have represented clients who were alleged to be at the very top of a narcotics trafficking conspiracy - and clients at the very bottom, often ordinary people who got addicted to painkillers following an injury or painful medical procedures, and then moved on to other drugs or began selling prescription drugs to support their habit when the physicians stopped writing prescriptions.  We have also represented clients charged with "manufacturing" controlled drugs, including methamphetamine labs and marijuana grow operations. 

Federal laws mandate very high maximum sentences, and sometimes also mandatory minimum sentencing laws, for drug trafficking and drug conspiracy offenses.  We have represented clients charged in drug conspiracy cases where the maximum sentence is life without parole.

Collateral Consequences of Drug Charges

A drug conviction, of course, can be very detrimental to a person's career, or ability to get a job, or ability to keep a job.  However, there are other potential consequences that many people are not aware of.  For example, a drug conviction, even for simple possession of a small amount of marijuana, can disqualify a college student from receiving FAFSA student loans for one year.  Always consult with an experienced drug defense lawyer before making any decisions, even if a prosecutor tells you that you or your loved one could plead guilty and receive nothing more than a fine.

Defenses to Drug Charges

There are many different potential defenses to drug charges.  Ted Lothstein and Richard Guerriero have employed all of these defenses in the past, to get charges dismissed, or secure a not guilty verdict, or persuade a prosecutor to reduce the offense to a less serious charge that will not have as detrimental an impact on the client's future.  Here are just some of the defenses that we have employed on a regular basis over the last two decades of criminal defense lawyering in NH:

  • Illegal or Unconstitutional seizure by the police
  • Illegal or Unconstitutional search by the police
  • Problems with the chain of custody of the substance seized
  • Difficulty in proving the "mens rea" - the mental state element of the crime.  This defense comes up often, typically in a scenario where drugs are found in a vehicle or residence, in a place that more than one person has access to.
  • Confession obtained that is involuntary or in violation of the Miranda decision
  • Entrapment - informant or undercover officer induced a person, often an addict who is not a drug dealer or a young person simply trying to please others, to distribute a substance
  • Informant, or undercover officer, has either misidentified client as the seller, or is lying.
  • Problems with the laboratory analysis of the substance seized

Learn More

In 2014, Ted Lothstein gave an interview that included a wide ranging discussion of issues that come up in drug cases, and strategies that we use to win drug cases or otherwise get a favorable outcome for our clients.  You can listen to the interview, and read the transcript, right here on our website.  

For More Information

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