Criminal Defense Attorney Joanne M. Stella has over 20 years’ experience representing those with serious motor vehicle offenses and has represented over 9,000 UNH students. If you are arrested and charged with a serious motor vehicle offense of any type you need competent legal representation. Attorney Stella will explain the process, guide you through the system and provide a strong and rigorous defense.
“Operating After Suspension” charges can be criminal and can carry a penalty of 7 days in jail as well as an additional one year loss of driving privileges if the suspension was a result of a DWI conviction, Negligent Homicide or, a Youth Operator License Suspension. Also, if you have a prior conviction for Operating After Suspension on your record the second offense will be charged as a misdemeanor.
In addition to the penalties you may be facing in court there are also administrative consequences through the Division of Motor Vehicles. New Hampshire is a point system state and “Operating After Suspension” is considered a major 6 point offense. If you have any prior convictions on your driving record you may be subject to a point system suspension. Additionally, New Hampshire has an ”Habitual Offender” law. Under this law, if you have 3 major convictions in 5 years or a combination of major and minor offense in the same time period you can be certified a habitual traffic offender and lose your driving privileges for a year or more. If you are caught driving while certified a habitual offender you can go to jail for a year or more depending on your record. The consequence you may be facing in court could be minor, such as fine, but the collateral consequences through the DMV can be severe. That is why it is important to get legal advice based on driving record from an experienced attorney like Criminal Defense Attorney Joanne M. Stella.
After arrest, most defendants will have their bail set by a bail commissioner and the paperwork, called “Bond In Criminal Case” will indicate a court date. (This is often the only paperwork you have when leaving the police station.) The first court date in a criminal case is usually the arraignment, and not the trial date. An arraignment is a preliminary hearing where the Judge will review the case to make sure the defendant is aware of the charge against him or her and allow them to enter an initial plea. Most people enter a “not guilty” plea at arraignment which preserves all their rights to later have a trial or negotiate a plea bargain. If you plead guilty at arraignment the judge will find you guilty and sentence you that day. It is almost impossible to undue a guilty plea. If you plead “not guilty” the court will assign a trial date that is usually a month or two away. (Pleading “not guilty” is like saying “Not ready yet” and simply puts off the final decision.) You will have that additional time to decide what to do. It is best to seek legal representation before the arraignment, but you can also plead “not guilty” and contact Criminal Defense Attorney Joanne M. Stella after the arraignment for a free consultation.