In general, an expungement refers to a legal process in which a person may be able to get certain crimes deleted or erased from their permanent record. The rules and requirements to obtain an expungement often vary from state to state. Therefore, a crime or related event (e.g., an arrest, conviction, etc.) that may be eligible for expungement in one state, may not qualify under the laws of another state.
Each state may also designate a different name to describe this process. For example, the name for the New Hampshire expungement process is actually called an “annulment,” as opposed to an expungement. Regardless of the title, both terms have the same meaning in this instance. Where the two terms differ, however, is in factors relating to their overall process and the slight variations found in the New Hampshire Criminal Code.
For instance, the way in which the New Hampshire expungement process works is as follows:
- First, you will need to determine the type of criminal action that you would like removed from your record. For example, if you were charged or arrested for a crime, but were not convicted, then you will need to petition the court where your case was tried.
- In order to petition the criminal court, the next step you can take is to file a court form known as a “Petition to Annul Record.” This petition is the equivalent of a New Hampshire expungement form. It is important that you complete this form in full, along with any supporting documentation, before you file it with the court.
- In addition, you may also want to consult with an attorney to make sure you are eligible to receive an annulment. If not, then you may need to wait another three years before you can request to have your record annulled again.
- Once you are ready to file your petition, you will be required to pay a mandatory court filing fee of $125.
- After all of your paperwork has been filed and your filing fee has been paid, the clerk of the court will notify the appropriate government department (normally the Department of Corrections (“DOC”)) who will then review your request and open an investigation to determine whether your request is eligible for an annulment.
- The agency will send their findings to the proper court where the court will have discretion to either grant the request or hold a hearing if a judge needs more information before they can issue a decision.
- The court and presiding judge will also have discretion over whether to approve or deny your request for an annulment. The court will issue a written decision and mail it to your address. The length of time that it takes to receive this decision will depend on the circumstances of your request as well as how busy the court is in which you filed.
As mentioned, it may be in your best interest to hire a New Hampshire expungement lawyer in your area before you file a petition for an annulment. Again, the reason why it may be wise to consult an attorney first is because if there is a reason that the court finds makes you ineligible for an annulment, then you will have to wait another three years before you can file a new petition. This can jeopardize matters in your personal life, such as finding a job.
Expungement of Juvenile Criminal Records
The process for expunging a juvenile criminal record in New Hampshire is relatively simple when compared to the process required for adult criminal records. For instance, according to New Hampshire state law, the criminal records of a juvenile delinquent will be sealed once the minor reaches the age of 21 years old. After a minor reaches this age, the records will be sealed in an inactive file that will only be accessible by law enforcement officials.
In addition, juvenile criminal records in New Hampshire are also typically separated from other courts records and withheld from the general public no matter the age of a juvenile offender.
Expungement of Adult Criminal Records
The general process for expunging adult criminal records in New Hampshire follows the same procedure as what was described above in the first section of this article. However, the basic outline provided will change based on the level of the offense and the event associated with the charges (e.g., an arrest vs. a conviction).
For example, an individual who is arrested, but not convicted, will be allowed to file a petition for an annulment as soon as the case is officially closed. On the other hand, an individual who is arrested and convicted, will need to complete the terms of their sentence before they can file a petition. In some instances, such as for felony offenses, an individual may need to wait several years or potentially may not even be able to qualify for an annulment, depending on the crime.
In addition, persons who need to determine the time period to wait before they can file a petition for an annulment may either consult the expungement statutes in New Hampshire or hire a lawyer for further legal advice.
As previously mentioned, the process to expunge a felony criminal record in New Hampshire will follow many of the same procedures discussed in the above sections. Where the expungement of a felony criminal record differs, however, will again depend on the type of felony committed and whether or not a person was convicted.
For instance, a person who is convicted of a Class A felony will need to wait a period of at least 10 years after serving their sentence before filing a petition for an annulment. This guideline may be subject to some exceptions if the Class A felony crime is one of the offenses listed in the New Hampshire statute that is exempted from an expungement.
Similar to expungements concerning felony criminal records in New Hampshire, the process for expunging a misdemeanor criminal record in New Hampshire requires a petitioner to fulfill many of the same requirements. With misdemeanors, however, the difference lies in the length of time that a petitioner needs to wait before they can file a petition.
For example, a person who is charged and convicted of a Class B misdemeanor will typically have to wait two years after they complete the conditions of their sentence before they can file a petition for an annulment.
Again, the length of these time periods will change in accordance with the offense as well as the record that is being requested for expungement.
Expunging Criminal Charges That Did Not Lead to a Conviction
As previously mentioned, the general process for expunging a criminal charge from a record that did not lead to a conviction in New Hampshire can be initiated immediately as soon as a case is closed. This means that if a person was acquitted, had their case dismissed, or the prosecutor withdrew or dropped the charges, then they will be eligible to expunge the entry from their record immediately.
Again, it should be noted that a person will still be required to file a petition for an annulment with the proper court.
Implications of a Successful Expungement
If a person is successful in getting their petition for an annulment approved, then it will be as if that person had never been convicted, charged, or sentenced for that crime in the first place. This means that the person will truthfully be allowed to answer questions posed by an employer or job application that they were not convicted of whatever crime they had expunged from their record.
It also means that an employer should not be able to find those charges when they conduct a background check. However, those records will still be available for review by law enforcement agencies.
Some other advantages of a successful expungement may include:
- Avoiding obstacles that may have prevented a person from receiving a loan;
- Being able to find a place to live without the worry of a landlord discovering a crime during a background check; and
- Having a juvenile crime wiped completely from their criminal record, assuming that a person satisfies the necessary elements for expungement.
Should I Consult an Expungement Lawyer in New Hampshire?
If you wish to expunge a conviction, arrest, and/or other event related to a crime from your criminal record in New Hampshire, then you may want to consider consulting a local New Hampshire expungement lawyer for further assistance. A lawyer who has experience in handling issues related to expungements will be able to help you navigate the expungement process and can ensure that you have completed all of the necessary paperwork before you file your request.
Your lawyer can also provide you with valuable legal advice regarding your rights and legal obligations under the rules and guidelines on expungement in your state. Additionally, if your initial request for an expungement is denied, your lawyer can review your paperwork for errors and can make sure that your second request is in proper order before you file a second time.