Annulment of Criminal Records

In the state of New Hampshire there is a statutory mechanism whereby individuals may petition to annul a record of arrest, conviction, and sentence. This can be an invaluable tool for individuals who are looking to clean up their record and make themselves more attractive to prospective employers or schools or who just want to officially move past a mistake they made in their past. In general, the main criteria for getting an arrest, conviction, and/or sentence annulled (in addition to that laid out below) is that said annulment would assist in the petitioner’s rehabilitation and will be consistent with the public welfare.

RSA 651:5 “Annulment of Criminal Records” articulates the process one must employ to have a record of arrest, conviction, and/or sentence annulled. The statute discusses the types of convictions which may be annulled (all violations, misdemeanors, and felonies with the exception of convictions for any violent crime, any crime of obstruction of justice, or any offense for which the petitioner was sentenced to an extended term of imprisonment under RSA 651:6). Additionally, it lays out a timeline one must follow when submitting a petition to annul. In short, the more significant the crime one was convicted of, the longer one must wait to petition the court to annul that conviction. Important to note however, is the fact that anyone whose arrest has resulted in a finding of not guilty, or whose case was dismissed or not prosecuted, may petition for annulment of the arrest record or court record, or both, at any time.

In addition to a mandatory waiting period before petitioning for annulment, one must ensure that they have completed all the terms and conditions of their sentence and have thereafter been convicted of no other crime (except a motor vehicle offense classified as a violation other than driving while intoxicated) for a period of time as follows:

1) For a violation, one year, unless the underlying conviction as for an offense specified under RSA 259:39 “Habitual Offenders”;

2) For a class B misdemeanor, 3 years;

3) For a class A misdemeanor, 3 years;

4) For a class A felony, 10 years;

5) For sexual assault, 10 years;

6) For a felony indecent exposure or lewdness; 10 years;

Lastly, no petition shall be brought and no annulment granted in the case of any 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 under RSA 651:6.

People seeking to annul their record can expect to pay a $100 filing fee, and an additional $200 in fees for a Department of Corrections investigation and report as well as Department of Safety efforts to research and correct the criminal history record if the petition for annulment is granted.