High school commencement ceremonies mark the passage to adulthood as much as turning 18 years old does. The New Hampshire Bar Association has published it's guidebook to becoming an adult, "Beyond High School," for 20 years. "Beyond High School" describes the rights of young adults, as well as the responsibilities. The publication is distributed by N.H. lawyers and judges to high school seniors each Law Day (May 1) and covers issues like establishing credit and renting an apartment as well as legal issues, like what to do if you're arrested.
To learn more about the book Beyond High School and to find out how you can get a copy, contact the N.H. Bar Association here.
Please see below for N.H. Bar Association statement regarding one portion of this conversation.
- Jennifer A. Eber - a Concord attorney; she edited the latest edition of the New Hampshire Bar Association's "Beyond High School."
- Robert Ducharme - former prosecutor and high school teacher who helped on some of the issues covered in "Beyond High School."
Clarification from the N.H. Bar Association:
During the recent Exchange featuring the NHBA’s latest edition of Beyond High School: A Guide to Your Rights and Responsibilities, attorneys Jennifer Eber and Robert Ducharme spoke with host Laura Knoy about the contents of the book and the importance of making this information available to young adults. On the topic of Search Warrants, Attorney Ducharme expressed an opinion that does not reflect the information provided in Beyond High School. This section of the book is printed in its entirety below.
The Need for a Search Warrant
Normally, a judge issues a search warrant to permit police officers to search a particular place or person for certain items. Like an arrest warrant, a search warrant is based on sworn testimony, which established probable cause for the search and seizure of the items.
In the following cases, a police officer does not need a search warrant:
• When you are lawfully arrested, the police officer may search you
and the area immediately surrounding you, which could include
the interior of your vehicle. Again, you may not interfere with this
search. The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that the right to search
you and the area surrounding you does not apply when you are
issued a traffic citation.
• A police officer may search you or your property without a warrant
if you consent. You have the right to refuse to consent, but the
officer is not obligated to inform you of this right.
• A police officer may sometimes search without a warrant when
there is insufficient time to get a judge’s approval because of
emergency circumstances or because evidence may be removed
or destroyed. The existence of these circumstances requires “a
compelling need for immediate official action and a risk that the
delay inherent in obtaining a warrant will present a substantial
threat of imminent danger to life or public safety.” State v.
Theodosopoulas, 119 N.H. 573 (1979).
If the police do not have a warrant, you are under no obligation to consent to a search, no matter how much you are pressured to do so. However,once the search has begun, you should not interfere with the search.
Whether the search is legal is for a court to determine at a later date. The determination is not made by the suspect. Ask the police officer to note that you do not consent. Common sense dictates that forcing the police to obtain a search warrant when you have absolutely nothing to hide is expensive and counter productive.If you know that the police will find what they are looking for as soon as they obtain a search warrant, refusing to consent to the search and forcing them to obtain a search warrant is nothing more than an exercise in futility. If a search is performed, with or without your consent, remember the details and relate them to your attorney.
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