Crimes are divided into two main categories: felonies and misdemeanors. In many cases, this distinction will differ from one state to the next depending on the severity of the crime. Generally speaking, a felony is a more serious offense, and usually involves a prison sentence of at least one year, a fine or possibly a combination of both. Though misdemeanors can also lead to time behind bars, judges will sometimes give out alternative sentences such as community service or rehabilitation programs.
In New Hampshire, misdemeanors are broken down into two types: Class A and Class B. A person charged with the former may be sentenced to jail and is thus entitled to a court-appointed lawyer. A Class B misdemeanor, on the other hand, is punishable by a fine rather than jail time. Examples of these crimes include speeding, trespassing, vandalism and public intoxication.
There are two different kinds of felonies as well. A Class B felony is punishable by up to 3.5 to 7 years in prison, while individuals convicted of a Class A felony could spend up to 7.5 to 15 years behind bars. Assault, battery, arson, rape and murder are all examples of these crimes. In most cases, felonies are divided into degrees - such as first-degree murder - to provide further distinction. Very serious offenses are punishable by the death penalty in New Hampshire and in some other states as well.
As always, if you have been accused of a crime in the Granite State, you should consult an experienced New Hampshire criminal attorney who can help you prepare, ensure that your rights are protected and look out for your best interests throughout the entire process.