New HampshireDepartment of JusticeOffice of the Attorney General

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions asked of the Cold Case Unit.

What Is The Definition Of A Cold Case In New Hampshire?

What Is The Definition Of A Cold Case In New Hampshire?

The following are the elements of a cold homicide case in New Hampshire:

  1. The case involves a homicide (or suspected homicide in which the cause of death is undetermined but is suspected to be homicide or the victim is missing and suspected to be murdered).
  2. The case is "unsolved," meaning in general that no one has been charged and convicted for killing the victim. However, a case may not qualify as "unsolved" even though no one has been convicted of the homicide for a number of reasons.
    1. A case is not considered "unsolved" if there is evidence establishing the guilt of the suspect beyond a reasonable doubt (such as a confession, eyewitness identification, DNA, or other forensic evidence) but the suspect could not be brought to trial because he or she died.
    2. A case does not qualify as "unsolved" if there was compelling evidence of guilt but the original suspect was tried and acquitted or could not be prosecuted for technical reasons. For example, a suspect may have been acquitted, or not prosecuted, because the killing was self-defense, or otherwise justified, or a confession or other conclusive evidence of guilt was excluded from the trial.
  3. The original investigation did not result in an arrest, and the case remained inactive for more than one year due to a lack of viable or unexplored leads. A cold case may have been reactivated periodically over the course of time because new leads emerged. If the case was dormant for one consecutive year during any period of time prior to September 1, 2009, without any active investigation, the case will be considered a cold case. However, cold cases do not include all cases that have been dormant for more than 1 year. For example, the suspect may be incarcerated on other charges and for strategic reasons the police or prosecutors decided not to lodge criminal charges while the suspect was incarcerated.

New Hampshire Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658