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New year will mark some new NH laws

New Hampshire State House
Dan Tuohy
New Hampshire State House

The New Hampshire Legislature convenes Wednesday for the 2023 session year.

A law that goes into effect Sunday updates the state’s indecent exposure statute to outlaw so-called “cyber flashing,” in which someone transmits an unsolicited lewd image to another person.

Most bills passed by the N.H. Legislature last term and signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu have already taken effect, but some have a Jan. 1, 2023, effective date.

House Bill 1388, whose co-sponsors included Rep. Jennifer Rhodes, R-Winchester, prohibits a person from sending an unsolicited “image of himself or herself fornicating, exposing his or her genitals, or performing any other act of gross lewdness.”

It makes it a misdemeanor to send such pictures when the recipient “has not indicated by speech or conduct that the recipient has freely consented to receipt of the image.”

Its prime sponsor was Rep. Allison Nutting-Wong, D-Nashua. She said in testimony before the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee early this year that such photos can be quite jarring.

“When I receive a message or email, I expect to have a conversation not graphic images with no warning,” she said. “These images are often sent without prior contact, purely to get a response.”

Another measure taking effect with the new year, Senate Bill 306, increases penalties for some driving violations that occur while one is using a cell phone.

For example, if a traffic offense would otherwise constitute a simple violation, it can be charged as a misdemeanor if it occurred while the driver was using a mobile electronic device. Similarly, some misdemeanors can be charged as a felony if cell phone use was involved.

House Bill 1577, which also goes into effect Jan. 1, establishes exemptions from prosecution for victims of human trafficking.

Human trafficking involves the forcing of a person to perform labor or commercial sex acts.  

Under the bill, people won’t be prosecuted for non-violent offenses that occur as a direct result of being trafficked.

Meanwhile, House Bill 1614, which also goes into effect with the new year, requires the recording and storage of digital video in some areas of state-funded juvenile detention facilities as a way to protect the people being detained.

The Legislature is scheduled to convene Wednesday for the start of its 2023 session.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information 

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