New Hampshire laws

Table of contents

Laws you can use

Open access to government records: RSA 91-A

New Hampshire has one of the strongest “right-to-know” laws in the nation. This statute ensures that virtually all government proceedings and records are fully open to inspection and copying by any interested member of the public.

Also see Part I, Art. 8 of the New Hampshire Constitution.

Freedom of expression for public employees: RSA 98-E

This statute protects all public employees’ right to criticize the government, including their own departments, without fear of reprisal from their superiors. New Hampshire has the strongest such protections for public employees in the nation.

Pistols and revolvers: RSA 159

New Hampshire has virtually no firearms restrictions. Open carry is unregulated; a license to carry is required if one wishes to carry a loaded handgun concealed or in a vehicle (RSA 159:6), but the license is “shall-issue,” only costs $10, and is good for four years. Better, if a bureaucrat denies you the license, you can take them to court (RSA 159:6-e), and said bureaucrat is personally liable for costs if the court rules in your favor (RSA 159:6-f).

Additionally, one can carry on all state property, except inside courtrooms (RSA 159:19). The state has forbidden municipalities from attempting to place additional restrictions on carrying (RSA 159:26), and all restrictions in place prior to the enactment of the preëmption statute are now null and void. Federal laws apply to Federal property, of course, and New Hampshire places no restrictions on private individuals prohibiting carry on private property.

Accidental, victimless motor vehicle violations: RSA 262:42

For motor vehicle cases, this statute is a powerful one to use in the hopes that the judge will place the complaint on file, that is, not issue a finding of guilty or not guilty. Usually, the judge will place stipulations (like those given to people with suspended sentences) that they not commit any crimes or serious motor vehicle infractions during the timeframe.

There are three things that have to occur for the judge to place a complaint on file:—

  1. The complaint has to be a violation under Title XXI (chapters 259–269).
  2. The conduct alleged by the state has to appear to the judge to be unintentional, or that no one’s rights (personal or property) could have been placed in jeopardy.
  3. The judge has to agree with the previous two points and decide to place the complaint on file.

Judges will sometimes cut off questioning when it strays from the conduct alleged in the complaint and not addressed by the state’s witnesses or evidence, so, in order to use this statute, ask questions relating to the second point above; if the judge cuts you off, respond by explicitly asking the court to consider evidence which would allow the court the discretion to place a complaint on file. You can further argue that if the state will concede that the conduct is unintentional or no person or property could have been endangered thereby, then you will refrain from asking such questions.

Serving as counsel in court: RSA 311

This statute allows any citizen to serve as “attorneys-in-fact” for another. Doing so allows someone to have most of the privileges that lawyers enjoy, including representing the person in court, communicating with them in jail without the jailers intercepting or surveilling the communications, and visiting them in jail outside of scheduled visiting hours.

See How do I represent someone else in court? for more information on how to employ this statute.

Wiretapping: RSA 570-A

This byzantine statute is often invoked by bureaucrats—in particular, the police—as a way of counteracting RSA 91-A. Read this statute and understand it fully! Here are just a few things bureaucrats misunderstand when trying to threaten people with wiretapping charges: It does not apply in situations where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy; the felony provisions do not apply unless a third party is being eavesdropped upon without their consent; “consent” is defined in the statute in such vague terms that simple notification often suffices; and, most importantly, RSA 91-A and Part I, Art. 8 trumps this statute with respect to interactions with public officials.

Time and time again, cops and bureaucrats threaten people with this—and in the few cases where people have refused to back down or gone to the media, they quietly drop the case. It’s a common strategy: They use the statute as a weapon, but know what will happen if it ever gets challenged in court.

Access to counsel and friends when arrested: RSA 594:16

This law is straightforward: “I. The officer in charge of a police station shall permit the prisoner to confer with his attorney at all reasonable times. II. Such officer shall establish regular visiting hours during which the prisoner shall be allowed to confer with relatives and friends.”

Serving jail time in lieu of paying a fine: RSA 618

For civil disobedients who would rather cost the system as much money as possible than pay a fine, one can “opt” for jailtime in lieu of paying the fine, at a rate of $50 per day (RSA 618:8). For example, a $300 fine would be six days in jail. Considering that it costs around $100 per day to house someone in jail, anyone who does this is costing the state twice what the state had tried to extract from them.

Official oppression: RSA 643:1

This statute is simple and straightforward enough: “A public servant, as defined in RSA 640:2, II, is guilty of a misdemeanor if, with a purpose to benefit himself or another or to harm another, he knowingly commits an unauthorized act which purports to be an act of his office; or knowingly refrains from performing a duty imposed on him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office.”

If you’re dealing with bureaucrats who seem to be intentionally refusing to do their job, let them know you’re aware of this statute and plan to pursue them—individually, not their office—if they keep it up. We’re aware of many cases of bureaucrats interfering with people’s rights under RSAs 91-A and 311, as just some examples, where this statute could be used as an effective tool.

Civil rights violations “under color of law”: 18 U.S.C. § 242 and 42 U.S.C. § 1983

These two Federal statutes—the first criminal, and the second civil—are potentially useful in particularly severe cases where RSA 643:1 just doesn’t cut it. Police departments found guilty of patterns of civil rights violations have actually had the FBI step in under these Federal statutes and set them straight!

Where to look up other laws and legal information

General

New Hampshire

Federal Government