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New Hampshire Supreme Court Affirms Order of Superior Court Denying His Motion to Amend the Conditions of His Suspended Sentence

In an opinion issued on September 17, 2010, the State Supreme Court in New Hampshire upheld the Superior Court's denial of defendant Jonathan A. Perfetto's motion to amend the conditions of his suspended sentence.

Mr. Perfetto had previously pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography in 2002, and as part of his plea agreement, was sentenced to three to seven years of imprisonment in state prison, and four consecutive suspended sentences of three and one half to seven years each. The defendant completed his sentence and was freed in October of 2008. Because of his desire to attend meetings at the Manchester South Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses while supervised by an elder of the congregation, but where children would be regularly present, the defendant sought to modify the conditions of his suspended sentence. The trial court denied this request without a hearing.

Defendant raised arguments on appeal that his 1st Amendment right to religious freedom was being violated, along with Part I, Article 5 of the New Hampshire Constitution. The Supreme Court, in denying his request and upholding the decision of the trial court noted that "to remain at liberty under a suspended sentence is not a matter of right, but a matter of grace...The development of a sensible probationary system necessarily requires that the trial court be vested with broad discretionary powers... the defendant's freedom of belief has not been restricted. He may still practice his religion in ways that do not violate the condition of his sentences, including the use of books and audio recordings... He may attend meetings ... where minors are not present." See: State of New Hampshire v. Perfetto, 160 N.H. 675 (N.H. 2010).

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Related legal case

State of New Hampshire v. Perfetto