Any misdemeanor crime is less serious than a felony. Misdemeanor crimes usually are distinguished from felonies by the seriousness of injury caused to another person, the cash value of property taken, or the amount of drugs in a person's possession and whether there is proof of intent to sell or distribute the drugs.
In New Hampshire, misdemeanors are crimes that are punishable by less than one year in jail or by fines only. New Hampshire law categorizes misdemeanors into two classes: Class A misdemeanors and Class B misdemeanors. Some crimes, such as prostitution, disorderly conduct and shoplifting items valued at $1,000 or less, can be charged as Class A or B misdemeanors.
For information on felonies, see New Hampshire Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Class A misdemeanors can include criminal mischief (damage to property between $100 and $1,000), simple assault, possession of a small amount of an illegal substance, and stalking.
Class B misdemeanors in New Hampshire include driving while intoxicated (first offense) and any crime designated as a misdemeanor that does not involve violence.
New Hampshire law requires that a criminal prosecution begin within a certain amount of time after a crime is committed or believed to have been committed. A criminal statute of limitations limits the length of time the state can wait before filing charges against a person. The time limit for filing a misdemeanor charge in New Hampshire is generally one year. For more information on the criminal statute of limitations, see Criminal Statute of Limitations in New Hampshire.
A conviction for a Class A misdemeanor in New Hampshire can become part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A conviction for even a minor crime can hurt you when you are looking for a job, applying to rent a house or apartment, or applying for a professional license. A person convicted of possession of an illegal substance – even a tiny amount for personal use only – can be barred from ever receiving federal financial aid for students.
An experienced attorney can determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges against you, explore plea options, or represent you at trial. Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.