Possessing a criminal record is often a hindrance if you are seeking suitable employment, rental housing, obtaining credit, applying to school or seeking a professional license. Depending on the type of criminal offense you committed, however, you can seek to have your arrest and conviction record annulled or cleared in New Hampshire after waiting the requisite time. Only certain arrest records may be expunged automatically.
What Is Expungement or Sealing?
An expungement is a legal procedure to obliterate or erase your criminal record from public access. Record sealing refers to your juvenile records that are automatically sealed when you reach the age of 21. In New Hampshire, the legal process for denying public access to your conviction records is known as annulment.
An annulment does not result in the destruction of your records because law enforcement can still view your record, as well as public agencies with whom you may be seeking professional licensing or employment. For instance, if you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor offense after a previous conviction has been annulled, your prior record can be accessed and used to enhance your sentence if convicted. It can also be utilized by law enforcement if you are under criminal investigation.
After you receive an order of annulment, you may lawfully testify under oath or state in any private employment, rental or school application that you have never been arrested, convicted or sentenced for any crime. You do have to disclose your prior conviction, however, if you are applying for a law enforcement position or for a license to practice law or real estate.
Expungement of arrest records is permitted only if you have been arrested for prowling or loitering and only if you were not permitted to explain the circumstances for your arrest or where the arrest was legally unjustifiable. If your arrest for these crimes was not prosecuted or you were found not guilty, your arrest records are automatically expunged.
Are You Eligible?
Any arrest for an offense for which you were not prosecuted or in which you were found not guilty are eligible for an order of annulment at any time.
For other eligible offenses, you may apply for annulment of your record after you have finished your sentence, including completion of probation, payment of any fines or restitution to victims, and participation in court-ordered programs.
You must also wait for a certain time after your sentence completion before applying for annulment and only if you have no pending offenses or other criminal convictions:
- Class A misdemeanor—three years
- Class B misdemeanor—three years
- Class A felonies—10 years
- Class B felonies—five years
- Sexual assault—10 years
- Felony indecent exposure or lewdness—10 years
Intoxicated driving offense are not eligible offenses for annulment until more than 10 years has passed since your conviction and there are no pending offenses.
New Hampshire is one of few states that does allow you to apply for an annulment, or expungement, more than once. If you are convicted of a subsequent criminal offense that is eligible for annulment, you can apply for another annulment petition after waiting out the mandatory period.
Should your petition be denied for any reason, you must wait three years before reapplying.
Upon considering your annulment petition, the court determines if annulment will assist your rehabilitation into society.
Speak to a New Hampshire Expungement Attorney
To see if you have a criminal record that you may have annulled or to explore other options, speak to a New Hampshire expungement or criminal defense lawyer today.
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