Expungement of Criminal Records – General – New Hampshire
1. What is an expungement?
The process of legally destroying, obliterating or striking out records or information in files, computers and other depositories relating to criminal charges.
2. Do the records just “disappear”?
No. The records cannot be accessed for general law enforcement or civil use. The person whose record is annulled shall be treated in all respects as if he had never been arrested, convicted or sentenced, except that, upon conviction of any crime committed after the order of annulment has been entered, the prior conviction may be considered by the court in determining the sentence to be imposed, and may be counted toward habitual offender status under motor vehicle laws.
Law enforcement officers may maintain arrest and conviction records and to communicate information regarding the annulled record of arrest or conviction to other law enforcement officers for legitimate investigative purposes or in defense of any civil suit arising out of the facts of the arrest, or to the police standards and training council solely for the purpose of determining the fitness of an individual to serve as a law enforcement officer. RSA 651:5.
DNA records ordered expunged requires purging all records and identifiable information in the database pertaining to the person and destroying all samples. RSA 651-C:5.
3. What records may be expunged?
In the case of persons arrested for loitering or prowling, the records of arrest. RSA 644:6. For DNA records ordered expunged, all related records in the state DNA database and samples. RSA 651-C:5. In other cases annulled RSA 651:5, the related records of arrest, conviction and sentence.
4. Who is eligible for an expungement?
Persons arrested for loitering or prowling may have their arrest record expunged if not given an opportunity to explain their circumstances or offered a credible explanation and was unjustifiably arrested. RSA 644:6.
A person whose DNA record has been included in the state database may request expungement on the grounds that the criminal conviction on which the authority for including such person’s DNA record was based has been reversed or the case dismissed, provided that such person requesting expungement has no other criminal convictions which would require DNA records to be included in the database. RSA 651-C:5.
Persons who may seek annulment are as follows:
1) A person whose arrest has resulted in a finding of not guilty, or whose case was dismissed or not prosecuted.
2) A person convicted of an offense when the petitioner has completed all the terms and conditions of the sentence and has since been convicted of no other crime, except a motor vehicle offense classified as a violation other than driving while intoxicated. Depending on the nature of the offense, a convicted person must wait a prescribed period of years before being eligible to seek annulment.
A person convicted of a violent crime, of any crime of obstruction of justice, or of any offense for which the petitioner was sentenced to an extended term of imprisonment is not eligible for annulment.
A person convicted on more than one offence is not eligible for annulment IF it is barred under paragraph V (violent crimes or sentenced to an extended term of imprisonment under R.S.A. 651:6) or until the time requirements under paragraphs III (see statute for listing of offenses) and IV (3 years following denial of petition for annulment) for all offenses of record have been met.
5. How do I get records expunged?
In the case of arrests for loitering or prowling and DNA records of persons whose convictions are dismissed or reversed, recorded are expunged as a matter of law. No petition is required. RSA 644:6, 651-C:5.
For records sought to be annulled, a petition for annulment may be brought at any time after all sentencing requirements are completed if no conviction resulted. In the case of persons who were convicted, the required time must pass before a pettion may be filed with the court has jurisdiction over the records.
The court will require the department of corrections to report to the court concerning any state or federal convictions, arrests or prosecutions of the petitioner and any other information which the court believes may aid in making a determination on the petition. The department shall charge the petitioner a fee of $100 to cover the cost of such investigation unless the petitioner demonstrates that he is indigent or he has been found not guilty or his case has been dismissed or not prosecuted. The court must provide a copy of the petition to the prosecutor of the underlying offense and permit them to be heard in regard to the petition.
If the court finds the person eligible for annulment, it will issue an order of annulment if it finds it will assist in the petitioner’s rehabilitation and will be consistent with the public welfare. RSA 651:5.