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Town Ordinances:

Open Container, Noise,

Diorderly Actions

Many students at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) find themselves charged with town ordinances. The most common are “Open Container”, “Noise” and ‘Disorderly Actions”. While the first two are somewhat self-explanatory, the last one is for urinating in public.


Carrying an open container of alcohol on any public streets, sidewalks, parking lots, or public areas of private buildings (like the foyer of an apartment building) will result in the police taking you into custody. Although not officially an “arrest” if you are only charged with a non-criminal civil infraction, the process used will be similar to procedures used in a criminal arrest. You will be processed at the police station, released by the bail commissioner and have a court date. A similar process will be used if you are found urinating in public.


Occasionally, for some town ordinances, like “Noise” you will simply be given the ticket with a court date and the police won’t take you into custody. (This is usually called a hand summons.)


Either way, town ordinances typically only stay on record at the local district court on behalf of the town and do not get reported to the State. They generally do not show up in a background check and are not considered a criminal charge. They are civil infractions just like a parking ticket. Usually, you can call the court a few days ahead of the court date to determine the exact amount of the fine and sometimes you can even pay it over the phone without having to appear in front of the judge. The common fine is in the range of $124.00 to $248.00.


If you were charged with a town ordinance that led to additional charges (such as drugs or Fake Id found during the processing) then you should contact Criminal Defense Attorney Joanne M. Stella for a free consultation right away.


If your name appears on the local arrest logs, even if for a minor infraction such as a town ordinance, it can result in a mandatory disciplinary meeting with your Dean’s office, a possible loss of scholarships, a loss of study abroad privileges, and a possible suspension from the University.


Criminal Defense Attorney Joanne M. Stella has over 20 years’ experience representing those charged with criminal offenses and has represented over 9,000 UNH students. If you are arrested and need representation Attorney Stella will explain the process, guide you through the system and provide a strong and rigorous defense.

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