DEFENDANT - the Defendant is the person who is charged with an offense.
PROSECUTOR - the prosecutor is the person or persons who represent the State.
MISDEMEANOR - a misdemeanor is a crime and a person who is convicted of a misdemeanor may be sentenced to jail depending upon the class of misdemeanor charged.
CLASS A - a person who is charged with a class A misdemeanor may be sentenced to jail upon conviction. In addition, a fine and probation may be imposed. For this reason, a person who is charged with a class A misdemeanor is entitled to apply for a court appointed lawyer.
CLASS B - a person who is charged with a class B misdemeanor may not be sentenced to jail upon conviction, although a fine and probation may be imposed.
FELONY - a felony is a crime and, like misdemeanors, felonies are broken down into class A felonies and class B felonies. A person convicted of a felony may be sentenced, in addition to a fine and probation, to the New Hampshire State Prison. A person who is charged with a felony may appear for an arraignment in District Court and for a hearing called a "Probable Cause" hearing or may be indicted by the Grand Jury without the case starting in the District Court. A person charged with a felony of any kind is entitled to apply for a court appointed lawyer.
BAIL - bail is set by the Judge. Bail is an amount of money, either cash or personal recognizance, which is designed to ensure a defendant's appearance in court as well as ensure the safety of the public and the defendant. In addition to an amount of money, the court may also set conditions of bail that the defendant must follow to remain out of jail. There are different types of bail:
BAIL COMMISSIONER - a bail commissioner is a person who is appointed by the court and who works for the court. He/she is actually an extension of the court. Bail commissioners set bail for persons charged with offenses. They are statutorily entitled to a fee of $40.00 for doing so. This is commonly referred to in court as the "bail fee."
BAIL BONDSMAN - a bail bondsman is an individual who provides surety bonds to persons who are charged with offenses who must have a corporate surety bond to be released. Bail bondsmen do not work for the court and are not the same as bail commissioners.
PERSONAL RECOGNIZANCE - a person released on personal recognizance bail is released upon his/her "promise" to appear in court and follow any conditions of bail. No money is required in order to be released.
CASH BAIL - a person who is required to post cash bail must put up money, either cash or money order/bank check, to be released. If the funds are not posted with the court, the person may not leave and will be jailed.
CORPORATE SURETY - a corporate surety is obtained through a bail bondsmen who provides, for a fee which may be nonrefundable, a bond guaranteeing payment to the court of a certain amount of money should the defendant fail to appear when necessary. The agreement between the defendant and the bondsman is done outside of court.
ARRAIGNMENT - the arraignment is generally the first appearance in court for people who are charged with a criminal offense. It is the day when the defendant is formally notified of the charge(s) filed in the court and when the Judge will ask the defendant for a plea.
NOT GUILTY - a person who pleads not guilty is denying that he/she committed the offense and is asking the case to proceed to trial.
GUILTY - a person who pleads guilty is admitting to the offense.
COURT APPOINTED COUNSEL - persons charged with class A misdemeanors or felonies, offenses which could result in jail time, may apply for a court appointed lawyer. While court appointed lawyers are not free, the fee is minimal. Court appointed lawyers may be public defenders, contract attorneys, or other private attorneys who have agreed to take court-appointed cases. A person who is requesting court appointed counsel will be required to fill out a financial affidavit because, not only must the person be charged with a "jailable" offense but also be "indigent" as defined by New Hampshire law.
ELEMENT - every offense has certain "elements" or pieces which the State (prosecutor) must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The Judge will go over with you the elements of each charge pending against you.