Sexual Assault/Rape Laws in New Hampshire

Arrested for Sexual Assault?

Here’s what you need to know.

The Scenario

Imagine that you are sitting at home. It is 10:30 on a Friday night and you are watching tv with your friends or family. You are thinking about going to the kitchen for a last slice of pizza. Then, you here a loud knock on the door. You open the door to find three or four police detectives with badges and guns standing on your threshold. Everyone in your home gathers around you to see what is going on. Someone asks, “Why are the police here?”

You begin to wonder if someone you love was injured in a car accident. You stop to think if you paid all of your parking tickets. Before you can utter a word, the detective standing closest to you scowls and says something like this in a militaristic baritone:

-Sir/Ma’am, we have a warrant for your arrest; or

-Sir/Ma’am, we would like for you to come down to the station to speak with us,

BECAUSE . . .

– The girl/guy you had sex with the other night wasn’t as old as you thought; or,

– The child you babysat the other day is saying that you touched him ; or,

– The girl who you had over the other night is saying that you raped her; or,

– We found these photographs . . . ;

– Etc. Etc. Etc.

Your head starts to spin and rightfully so.  The police tell you that you can make everything right by coming with them and telling them your side of the story.  Not so fast!

What You NEED to Know

There is no allegation more serious than being accused of sexual assault, with perhaps the exception of murder.  But, even if you are charged with murder, no one is going to put you on a sex offender registry for the rest of your life and ban you from schools, playgrounds, and little league, are they?

If you are accused of, arrested for, or under investigation for sexual assault, then here are some things you need to know:

  • First, how you behave during the next 24 hours will have a major impact on the case that the police are building against you.
  • Second, DO NOT . . . DO NOT . . . DO NOT . . . under ANY circumstances speak to the police about the case without an attorney by your side! 
  • Third, do not contact the person who is accusing you of sexual assault. 
  • Fourth, be prepared for your life to change in a big way – but keep your head and call an attorney immediately!  Do not think for a moment that you can handle this problem on your own.  You can’t. 

FAQ’s From Our Client’s About the Advice

Q1. Why do the next 24 hours have a major impact on my case?

A1. For many reasons.

First, you must understand that the police are looking for any clues that indicate you are guilty of sexual assault.  How you behave in their presence will surely be written down in a police report. Police are trained to look for clues as to how you behave during an interrogation or following an arrest.  They will look to see if you cry, shout, yell, shake, turn red, laugh, shake your head, etc.

If you do in fact do any of these things, they will write it down in their reports and will eagerly tell the jury about it at your trial a year from now.  You can bet that the prosecutor is not going to tell the jury that your mannerisms or comments were evidence of innocence.

You do, however, have the right to remain silent – and your silence is the one thing that the police cannot use against you at trial.  SO, be sure to not give the police any additional stories or information to which they can relay to the jury at your trial.  As a person accused of sexual assault, you need to spend the next 24 hours thinking to yourself – I need to be calm and quiet until I can talk to my attorney.

If you ask the police any questions about your case, no matter how inconsequential or innocent these questions may seem, you can expect to hear the questions repeated to the jury at your trial, one year from now.

For instance, imagine the detective who arrested you telling the jury:

Ladies and Gentleman, after I arrested Mr./Ms. Doe, he/she asked:

  • Well, how old was the girl?
  • Where exactly did he say I touched him?
  • How much time am I looking at?
  • What if it was consensual?
  • Is three beers really enough to get someone drunk?

These questions may seem innocent and inconsequential, but in a courtroom, they can be spun to have extremely negative connotations.  Plus, with every question you ask, you may be unwittingly admitting to certain facts that help the police build a case against you.  You may be admitting to having had sex with your accuser.  You may be admitting to at least having been near or with your accuser on the date and time in question.

All of your questions are important, but they are not to be asked of the police.  They are best reserved for your attorney.  Remember, in a case like this, the police are not looking out for you and they do not have your best interests at heart.  Only your lawyer does.  So remember that as you are sitting in a holding cell or in an interview room.

Other things to keep in mind during the 24 hours after you’ve learned of the allegations against you.

  • Jail phones are recorded.  DO not say one word about your case on the phone.
  • Other prisoners in your cell will rat you out in a heartbeat to save their own hides.  Do not discuss your case with them.  And, do not give your cellmates even the slightest bit of factual information off of which they can concoct their own story to sell to the police for a ticket out of jail.
  • Do not discuss your case with anyone on the booking room phone.  It may be recorded.  But even if it is not, you can be damned sure that the bored looking officer at the desk across the room who looks like he is filling out forms – he can hear (and is listening) to every word you say.   

Our experience as defense attorneys has taught us that our clients who are accused of any kind of sexual misconduct are almost always overwhelmed by the damage that such an accusation has wrought on their lives.

Often, they find themselves being attacked on all fronts.  The police call them criminals, their spouses leave them, their friends turn their backs on them, their bosses tell them to not bother coming to work, and the newspaper labels them a pervert.  All of these judgments are made a year before your trial and long before a jury of your peers is instructed that you are presumed innocent in the eyes of the law.  It is not fair, but it is your new reality.  Accept it, and call a lawyer immediately and get the best advice you can.

Q2. Why shouldn’t I talk to the police? Aren’t they just after the truth?

A2. No.

In cases like these, the police are looking for evidence.  They are looking for any information, clues, or hints of your guilt.  Yes, some investigators are mindful of the fact that false allegations of sexual assault are made all the time.  But, these same investigators understand that in most sexual assault cases – only two people know or will ever know the absolute truth, and that is the accuser and the accused.  Thus, they are content to let the jury decide the case.

Accordingly, the police try to find enough evidence to bring you to trial, where a jury can determine your fate.  Police investigators have to answer to their bosses, bureau chiefs, supervisors, the media, and a ton of other people looking over their shoulder – all of whom don’t look fondly on lone detectives deciding for themselves to turn alleged sex offenders loose on the streets.

Nope, the police are pretty much looking to build a case against you and to ship the file to the prosecutor.  For many years, Attorneys Shepherd and Osborne were prosecutors to whom many of these cases were shipped in Hillsborough County.  We know what to look for and how these cases work.  We know how to advise and protect you during the crucial hours following your arrest or your initial police contact.

You may think that by simply talking to the police about sexual allegations, they will be cognizant of your innocence.  It has been our experience, and I have two former clients in mind as I type this, that innocent people do get charged with sexual assault even after they have told their side of the story to police without having an attorney present.  In the minds of many police investigators, suspects who admit to sexual assault are guilty.  But, the suspects who proclaim their innocence, are simply lying.

As former prosecutors and experienced criminal defense attorneys, we know that this is simply not the case.  The unfortunate pervasive presumption of guilt throughout law enforcement agencies is another reason why you need to have an attorney by your side from the very second an allegation of sexual assault is made against you.

Q3. Why shouldn’t I call the person who is accusing me of rape or something I did not do?

A3. There will be plenty of time for you to face your accuser in Court with the assistance of your attorney.

If you try to contact the person who is claiming to have been sexually assaulted, you are likely to be arrested for witness tampering. 

Plus, when it comes time for trial, the fact that you tried to reach out to your accuser may lead a judge or jury to conclude that you really are guilty and were trying to intimidate the accuser from testifying or reporting a crime.

An attorney will be able to advise you on what steps to take and what land mines to avoid as you begin to prepare yourself for the fight of your life against allegations of sexual assault.  Be sure to retain an attorney whom you trust and on whose advice you can rely.  Your future depends on it.

Q4. What are the consequences of a Sexual Assault conviction?

A4. There are many, and in order for an attorney to answer this question, he/she would first have to know the facts of your case and the manner in which you are charged under the laws and statutes of New Hampshire.

But, generally speaking, a sexual assault conviction can destroy your life forever.

If you are convicted of Aggravated Felonious Sexual Assault, you may be looking at 10 -20 years in prison for each count. 

If you are convicted of Felonious Sexual Assault you may be looking at 3 ½ -7 years in prison on each count.

If you are convicted for a misdemeanor Sexual Assault you may be sentenced up to 12 months in jail on each count.

You may be forced to register on the NH Sex Offender Registry for the rest of your life.  Every time you move, you will have to check in with the local police department and tell them your new address.

You may be forced to give a DNA sample to the NH Forensic Lab.

You may be prohibited from going near schools, parks, or places where young people might congregate.  You may be prohibited from having unsupervised contact with young people, even your kids.

You may never be able to teach, or coach.

You may never escape the stigma of having been convicted of a sex offense.

All of these and more are possible consequences that you might be forced to endure if you don’t take steps to protect yourself from the police and your accuser as soon as you learn that you have been accused of a sex crime.

Remember, the jails are filled with people who may never have had to serve a day, if they had just followed the advice as listed above.

If you need help or have any questions, please don’t be afraid to call us.  We don’t judge and we are happy to help.

Office number:  603-595-5525

  • Nashua
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603-595-5525