Removing charges from your criminal history is referred to by different states and agencies by different terms. Some agencies/states call the record “sealed”, “expunged”, or “cleared”; among others. A close cousin of the removal process is the “pardon” which is beyond the scope of this article. In New Hampshire, the process of clearing your record is referred to as “annulment”.
Attorney Sweeney has been involved with the record annulment process as a prosecutor, legislator, and, for many years, as a defense attorney. Here are some general guidelines regarding New Hampshire annulments. Keep in mind that there are exceptions to many of the rules and an improperly filed petition may prevent the conviction from being cleared from the record for years. Call for a free consultation (603) 589-8015 instead. We charge a reasonable fixed fee to process annulments from start to finish.
A petition (request of the court) that is filed after the minimum time limits set out below may result in the annulment of a New Hampshire criminal record. The court where the petition is filed may have to determine whether the annulment will assist in the petitioner’s rehabilitation and be in the general interest of the public.
Convictions for certain crimes of violence or obstruction (i.e. death or serious bodily injury resulting, felony sexual assault, kidnapping or criminal restraint, felony arson, robbery, incest/endangering, child porn, witness tampering, and obstructing government operations) are not usually eligible for expungement. DWI is an exception to most time limits. The prohibitions and time limits only apply to convictions.
Any arrest that did not result in any conviction (or was vacated) is eligible for an annulment. The annulment cannot be granted until there is a final order on any outstanding appeals or motions to reconsider.
Petitions will be denied if there are pending charges or new offenses that have not yet reached their time limit for annulment. Violations do not count as another crime with limited exceptions (primarily DWI related). BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THESE TIME LIMITS. If a petition is filed and denied because it was filed too early, no new petition may be heard on that offense for 3 years.
Court fee for Petition: $125.00
Dept. of Corrections fee = $100.00
Dept. of Safety (State Police) fee = $100.00
Criminal Record Request = $25.00
*Not all fees are required for all annulments.
In any New Hampshire application for employment, license, right, or privilege, a person may be questioned about a previous criminal record only in the following approximate terms: “Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime that has not been annulled by a court?”
Annulment of criminal convictions does not make the information vanish. The internet and news agencies may store and publicize information related to convictions long after the government database has been wiped clean. Law enforcement related databases may continue to list all of the information related to the accusations although these data bases have relatively strict access parameters. Background checks for higher security positions will often uncover an annulled conviction or charge. The charge doesn’t vanish, it’s cleared from the database where criminal records are ordinarily kept and the court record of the event becomes unavailable.