How to Expunge my Public Records in New Hampshire

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There are dangers associated with having some information in the public domain. One such risk is the uncontrollable dissemination of such documents, which could place sensitive information in fraudsters’ hands. Fraudsters can manipulate publicly available information and target other persons for extortion. While these risks are acknowledged, public records are quite difficult to delete completely in New Hampshire. Some details of the documents are always available when required in certain circumstances.

What is a Public Record in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire’s Right To Know Law defines public records as any information created or obtained by, or on behalf of, any public agency while discharging official duties. The law upheld all citizens’ right to inspect and make copies of governmental records. The following are some of the records accessible by the public in New Hampshire:

  • Vital records (birth, death, marriage, and divorce records)
  • Property records
  • Inmate records
  • Court records

By law, public agencies in New Hampshire are mandated to make public records available on requests. Where this is not possible, the record custodians must inform the requesters within five days. Requesters must be informed if such requests require more time to be fulfilled or if they will be denied. While an open government gives New Hampshirites much-needed information to contribute better to policy-making, certain information is better kept confidential. The New Hampshire Law recognizes this fact and restricts unauthorized access to the following records:

  • Grand and Petit Jury records
  • Parole and Pardon Board records
  • Pupils’ school records
  • Department of Education’s teachers’ certification records
  • Notes or personal materials drafted before, during, or after a governmental proceeding but are not for official use
  • Information technology system records (including cybersecurity plans and vulnerability tests) whose disclosure be a breach of security
  • Video and audio recordings of a law enforcement officer’s body-worn camera. This can only be disclosed when the recording captures any of these:
  • Incidents of the use of force by the arresting officer. Other parts that may constitute an invasion of privacy must not be shown
  • Discharge of firearm
  • An incident that led to an arrest for a felony offense

Residents of New Hampshire are permitted to give some of their public records a level of privacy to prevent unauthorized access by a process known as an expungement.

Does New Hampshire allow Expungement?

New Hampshire allows eligible persons to have some records expunged. Expungement, often called annulment in New Hampshire, refers to the legal removal of some documents from public access. Unauthorized members of the public will need to obtain proper clearance and authorization before they can access expunged records. Subjects of expunged records can legally deny the existence of such records.

How do I Expunge My Criminal Record in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire does not grant an expungement request for every offense. In New Hampshire, only the following conviction and arrest records can be annulled:

Convictions

Most convictions are eligible for New Hampshire criminal record expungement. However, New Hampshire does not expunge the following conviction records:

  • Individuals convicted for violent crimes. The following constitute violent crimes in New Hampshire:
  • Capital murder, first and second-degree murder, manslaughter
  • First-degree assault
  • Kidnapping or criminal restraint
  • Class A felony arson
  • Robbery
  • Any felony offense involving child sexual abuse
  • Incest
  • Convictions for felony obstruction of justice crimes
  • Offenses for which the petitioners were sentenced to extended terms of imprisonment

Besides these, many other convictions qualify for an annulment in New Hampshire. However, persons seeking expungement for the following convictions must observe the specified waiting periods:

  • Violations: An individual convicted for violations must wait for one year after terms of the sentence have been fulfilled before applying for an annulment
  • Class B Misdemeanor: An individual convicted for any offense that falls under the Class B misdemeanor cannot apply for criminal record expungement until two years after serving the full conditions of their sentence
  • Domestic Violence: A person convicted for domestic violence must wait for ten years after serving the full terms of the sentence to be eligible for New Hampshire criminal record expungement
  • Sexual Assault: Any person convicted for sexual assault must wait for ten years after fulfilling the terms of their sentence before applying for criminal record annulment
  • Class A Misdemeanor: An individual convicted for a Class A misdemeanor must observe the waiting period of three years before applying for expungement
  • Class A Felony: Convicts of offenses that fall under Class A Felony must wait for ten years before applying for New Hampshire criminal record expungement
  • Class B Felony: An individual convicted for any offense in this category must wait for five years before applying for an annulment
  • Felony indecent exposure or lewdness: It has a waiting period of ten years which any convict must observe before filing petitions for criminal record expungement

Arrests

Amendments to the New Hampshire Criminal Record Annulment Laws in 2019 introduced varying waiting periods for persons whose arrest occurred before and after January 1, 2019. New Hampshire arrest record expungement has the following conditions:

  • Arrests with no charges entered at the court: Arrests of this nature have no waiting period. Individuals with this kind of arrest record can file for annulment at any time
  • Arrests with charges, but cases were dismissed, not prosecuted (nolle prossed), or arrested persons were found not guilty: For individuals whose charges were disposed of before January 1, 2019, they can file petitions to annul their arrest records at any time. However, persons whose charges were dismissed after January 1, 2019, can file for annulment at any time if their cases were vacated or nolle prossed. Persons whose cases were dismissed must wait till the expiration of the time given for the prosecution to file appeals (31 days after the judge’s dismissal). Individuals found not guilty must also wait for the time allowed for the prosecution’s appeal to expire (31 days).

Upon confirming their eligibility for expungement, offenders can file petitions with the court that decided the conviction or resolved the arrest with no conviction. Applicants whose convictions were confirmed before January 1, 2019, must complete and submit the Petition to Annul Record Form - before 01/01/2019. The Petition to Annul Record Form - after 01/01/2019 is to be completed by persons whose convictions were confirmed on or after January 1, 2019. Individuals arrested after January 1, 2019, whose cases were dismissed or discontinued must complete the Petition of Eligibility For Annulment of Record Non-Conviction to file for expungement. Various New Hampshire expungement application forms for non-conviction arrests are available online. Some of the information an applicant should provide in their petition include:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Court Name
  • Case name
  • Case number
  • Charge ID
  • Date of arrest or conviction
  • Statutes violated

Following the completion and submission of the appropriate forms, the court is left to decide on the annulment. The court has the sole authority to decide petitions from those seeking to expunge records of arrests that did not lead to convictions. Petitioners seeking to annul records of convictions confirmed prior to January 1, 2019, will have their petitions forwarded to the New Hampshire Department of Corrections (DOC). They will also be sent to the arresting agency for further investigation whose reports will be submitted to the court. As part of their investigation process, the DOC will administer questionnaires to the petitioners that must be promptly completed. Any delay will extend the expungement process because the court will not take further action on the petition until the DOC and the arresting agency submit their reports.

For petitions seeking to annul records of convictions that occurred after January 1, 2019, the court solely reviews the petitions and either grants or denies the requests. Sometimes, the court may schedule a hearing before deciding on the petition. The court, in some instances, grants conditional approvals for petitions seeking to expunge records of violations and Class B misdemeanors that occurred after January 1, 2019. If this conditional approval is granted, the court will notify the prosecutor. The prosecutor must file an objection within 20 days of receiving the notice if there is any. If there is no objection,  the court will decide solely on the strength of the petition. If approved, petitioners will receive notifications of the court’s decision, and their certificates of annulment will be mailed to them. Persons whose petitions are denied must wait for three years before filing new ones.

Filing for annulment of criminal records is not free in New Hampshire. The filing fee for criminal record annulment is $125 per court location. Petitions forwarded to the DOC will attract an extra fee of $100, paid directly to the DOC. Persons whose petitions are approved must pay an additional $100 to the New Hampshire Department of Safety (DOS). This fee covers the search of the criminal record and the correction after annulment approval, and it is also paid directly to the DOS.

Will my Expungement Record Show up on a Background Check in New Hampshire?

Usually, expungement and expunged records do not show up on most background checks conducted in New Hampshire. Background checks executed will typically display annulment beneficiaries’ clean records. However, non-FCRA compliant background checks conducted via third-party websites may reveal an expunged record.

How to Seal a Record in New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, the process of expunging and sealing records is precisely the same. Upon the annulment of public records, they are removed from the public. Expunged records are typically kept in safe places and can only be accessed by authorized persons. Additionally, New Hampshire automatically seals juvenile records once their subjects attain the age of 21.

Who Can See My Sealed Record in New Hampshire?

In New Hampshire, persons authorized to see a sealed record include:

  • The subject of a sealed record
  • An attorney representing the subject of a sealed record
  • A court of law for sentencing purposes
  • Law enforcement agents for criminal justice purposes
  • Other persons authorized by the court

How to Delete Bankruptcy Records in New Hampshire

Bankruptcy refers to the legal proceedings instituted by an individual that is unable to fulfill their financial obligations. Filing for bankruptcy grants a debtor respite from creditors as some debts will be discharged. Where debts cannot be cleared, bankruptcy facilitates the structuring of suitable repayment plans. Federal laws back bankruptcy, and as such, can only be filed at federal courts in the state.

A bankruptcy record on an individual’s credit report can have some damaging consequences. If reported in error, an affected individual can delete their bankruptcy record by making official complaints to the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. The credit bureaus will immediately correct the error to avoid violating the FCRA. However, legitimate bankruptcies in New Hampshire are more difficult to delete. The best way to get such a bankruptcy record off an individual’s credit report is to wait for the expiration of the permitted time from the date of filing. The length of time depends on the type of bankruptcy a person files. Generally, credit bureaus will stop reporting Chapter 7 bankruptcies after ten years of filing, while Chapter 13 bankruptcies are reported for a maximum of seven years.

What are Consumer Protection Laws in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire’s Right To Privacy laws, enforced by the State’s Attorney General, aim to protect the private and personal information of New Hampshirites. One of the laws recommends that any business that owns or licenses personal data must immediately notify affected individuals once any breach is observed. Affected individuals can be notified by:

  • Written notice
  • Electronic notice (if that is the primary means of communication between the business and affected individuals)
  • Telephone notice (the business involved must preserve the notification log for the call placed to the affected individuals)
  • Substitute notice (they can do this by email, statewide media campaigns, and posting on their website)

The business must provide individuals affected by the data breach with the following information:

  • A description of the incident
  • Date of the breach
  • Type of information illegally accessed
  • Phone number of the business

A key strength of these laws is that a breach of a single individual’s information is enough to get the Attorney General involved. While the Attorney General’s Office conducts the necessary investigation, the business whose security was breached must fully cooperate with the authorities.

How to Delete Lien Records in New Hampshire

Liens are legal claims on assets that serve as collateral for debts. Creditors are permitted to possess the asset on which liens are held if the debtor fails to fulfill financial obligations. County clerks in New Hampshire record liens held on all properties in the state. Some counties have web-based search options for anyone who wishes to find out if any lien is held against them. Some independent public records vendors also provide lien search services online.

In New Hampshire, a debtor can delete their lien record by paying their debt in full. Fulfilling all financial obligations to a lien holder facilitates the deletion of such a lien. Otherwise, a debtor can wait for the expiration of the Statute of Limitations placed on enforcing liens. Each lien has a limited time for the lien holder to enforce and possess the asset on which the liens are held. For example, a mechanic’s lien, a lien held by contractors and suppliers for labor and materials supplied, must be filed and enforced within 120 days of providing the last labor or material. Similarly, judgment liens, the right to claim specific properties if debts are not paid, must be enforced within twenty years of the judge’s sentence.

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