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Rights of the Accused

Every citizen accused of a crime has certain constitutional rights. The Federal Constitution sets out the minimum level of protections guaranteed to every citizen. The New Hampshire Constitution provides similar rights and, in some circumstances, provides even greater protection than the Federal Constitution.

What are these rights?

  • The right to remain silent and to refuse to answer questions asked by police officers or other government officials, if those answers might connect you in some way to criminal activity.
  • To have a lawyer represent you if you face time in prison upon conviction. If you cannot afford to pay for a lawyer, you can ask the judge to appoint one for you, paid for by the state.
  • To a public and speedy trial, either before a jury or a judge.
  • To change the location of a trial if a judge decides that you cannot get a fair trial in the community where the crime took place. 
  • To be presumed innocent until proven guilty. You are considered innocent of any crime unless the prosecutor presents sufficient and legally-obtained evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  
  • To be present at all critical stages in the criminal prosecution.
  • To testify in your own defense, if you so choose. You cannot be forced to testify.
  • To cross-examine any person who testifies against you.
  • To bring in witnesses. The judge can also order a witness to appear in court.
  • To present additional information to the judge at the time of sentencing.
  • To be protected from being tried a second time for the same offense after an acquittal.
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New Hampshire Public Defenders

New Hampshire Public Defenders

The New Hampshire Public Defender Program, which is funded by the state legislature, provides court-appointed legal representation to individuals charged with homicides, felonies, misdemeanors, and juvenile delinquency.