New Hampshire Criminal Court Records
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What are New Hampshire Criminal Court Records?
New Hampshire criminal court records are documents that provide an official account of the litigation processes of criminal courts within the jurisdiction of the state. They feature a variety of information pertaining to court proceedings including details of the crime in prosecution, court motions, actions, and motion arguments as well as sworn statements, witness testimony and filed evidence. Pursuant to New Hampshire public record laws, these records are generated and maintained by various court clerks in the state and may be made available to interested members of the public upon request unless sealed or deemed confidential by state law.
Understanding the New Hampshire Criminal Court System
The New Hampshire Judicial Branch is charged with overseeing the state's entire judicial system. The state courts of New Hampshire include:
- New Hampshire Supreme Court
- New Hampshire Superior Court
- New Hampshire Circuit Court
The New Hampshire Circuit Court has three divisions: District, Family, and Probate. However, most criminal cases are initiated in New Hampshire Superior Courts which are the state’s primary court of general jurisdiction. Where the plaintiff finds the judgment of a Superior Court unsatisfactory, an appeal can be requested from the New Hampshire Supreme Court which functions as the court of last resort and hears appeals from all courts in the state.
What’s included in a New Hampshire Criminal Court Record?
Criminal court records are generated to offer objective accounts of the processes of a state's criminal courts. Thus, New Hampshire criminal court records typically feature information regarding the offense, the parties involved, details of the litigation proceedings as well as, the court's final verdict and any reviews made by higher appellate courts (where applicable). While most records are unique to the case and the judicial district in which the crime was prosecuted, most New Hampshire criminal court records feature similar information. This includes:
- Details of the criminal offense being prosecuted as well as information regarding its legal severity (if relevant)
- The personal/identifying information of the defendant/plaintiff. This may include full names, biodata and contact information
- The related criminal history of the offender as well as details of past or current convictions or jail terms being served.
- Documents pertaining to the mental/psychological and physical evaluation of the plaintiff and alleged offender (if relevant to the case or defense)
- Related search or arrest warrants issued following the accusation
- Indictment information, details of court summons and the plea of the defendant.
- Details of court actions and motions, motion arguments, court appearances and miscellaneous documents contained in the trial transcript/docket
- Testimonies issued in the course of the proceeding, witness statements, sworn affidavits, the testimony of expert witnesses including any relevant documents/information that prove the competence of a witness (if necessary)
- Details of the court's final judgment including the penalties ascribed to the defendant -- i.e. jail terms, community service, probation, and fine, etc.
- If the judgment is revised by the Supreme Court, the updated verdict is also included in the record.
Obtaining New Hampshire Criminal Court Records
The state of New Hampshire allows interested persons access to criminal court records upon request. Given the unique processes employed by most courts, the requirements for accessing criminal court records generally varies from court to court. However, most court records can be accessed by making in-person requests to the record custodian, by using state-managed, district-operated or third party online resources, or by sending written mail-in requests to the courthouse where the case was heard.
How Do I Find New Hampshire Criminal Court Records Online?
The judiciary of New Hampshire provides a variety of online resources with which interested members of the public can access criminal court records remotely. Following the restrictions on the dissemination of closed/sealed records, only records that have been deemed public by state law can be obtained online.
There are a variety of independent online repositories housing court records generated by various courts in the state. However, the resources managed by the New Hampshire Judicial Branch access to records by searching on a central state-wide database.
The New Hampshire E-Court portal is an electronic service provided by the New Hampshire Judicial Branch and featured on the state judiciary website. The Electronic Case Filing (e-service) allows various judicial staff and members of the public remote online access to court records generated by New Hampshire Circuit Courts, Superior Courts, and Supreme Court.
Records can be obtained on the portal by performing a circuit, superior or supreme court search depending on the record of interest. Case searches typically require that the requestor provide some information regarding the record. This information is required to facilitate all record searches and usually include the full name(s) of either or both parties, the place in which the case was heard as well as the case file number of the record (if known).
Additionally, publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels
How Do I Access New Hampshire Criminal Court Records in Person?
New Hampshire criminal court records can also be obtained by making in-person requests to the courthouse where the case was filed/heard. This is especially useful for accessing records that are not available electronically including sealed or restricted court records. As such, persons seeking full criminal court case information are advised to request the record in person. To request a criminal court record in person, the requesting party is required to:
Find the Record Custodian
Following New Hampshire state law, criminal court records are generated and managed by the various court clerks of the state Superior Courts. To request a criminal court record in person, the requesting party is required to locate the judicial district and the appropriate record custodian which is the court clerk of the applicable Superior Court.
The criminal court record is best located by considering the most current status of the case or the severity of the crime. Given that the New Hampshire Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction over selected felonies, criminal court records pertaining to these cases may be maintained by the state Supreme Court. However, if a case has been tried and a judgment issued, the record is usually in the custody of the court clerk of the courthouse where the case was heard. And where the initial verdict of a case has been reviewed by an appellate court, requestors may locate the record in the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
Gather All Relevant Information
Requestors are advised to retrieve information regarding the record retrieval process of the applicable judicial district after verifying the location of the record of interest.
Given that most judicial districts adopt unique management strategies, some districts often have distinct record retrieval requirements. However, requestors are generally required to provide any and all information required to facilitate a record search. This includes the full name of the plaintiff and defendant, the case file number, appellate record number or docket number of the record and the approximate date the crime was committed or the complaint filed.
Provide Identification & Fee Requirements
The requesting party may also be required to cover the costs of search and/or copies, as well as present a government-issued ID to verify their eligibility to access a record. Where the requestor is seeking access to restricted records/or information, this ID requirement cannot be overlooked. Access to sealed or confidential records also requires that the requestor provide a court-issued subpoena indicating the required authority needed to access the record.
Make the Request
All criminal record requests in New Hampshire courts can be made official working hours to the appropriate office. In some cases, the requesting party will be required to schedule their appointment at the applicable courthouse beforehand.
Most courthouses provide public access computer terminals with which interested parties may self serve in the courthouse. However, if the requestor requires full court case information and/or a confidential record, the party may be provided with an application on which information regarding the record of interest should be indicated. Typically in-person record requests can be processed in a matter of minutes.
How Do I Access New Hampshire Criminal Court Records via Mail?
New Hampshire criminal court records can also be obtained by making mail-in requests to the office of the record custodian where in-person requests cannot be made. Mail-in requests for criminal court records are processed by the office of the various state court clerks. While the requirements for obtaining criminal court records generally varies mail-in requests usually require that the requesting party provide a written request containing the following information:
- The type of record required
- General court case information -- i.e. details of the initial filing and hearing
- The full name of one or both of the parties (plaintiff or defendant)
- The case file number, docket number or appellate number of the record of interest
- The names and/or state bar number of any of the legal representatives involved.
- The personal and contact information of the requesting party
In selected cases, some record custodians have specific protocols and additional requirements. Thus, requesters are advised to inquire from the office of the court clerk before proceeding with the request. In some cases, requests must also be accompanied by a cheque/money order to cover any applicable fees and a stamped, self-addressed envelope with a photocopy of the requestor's government-issued ID.
Requests can also be made by downloading and completing the Record Search Request Form following the instructions indicated on the Record Search Page. Completed forms must be accompanied by the indicated fees and ID requirements and sent to:
New Hampshire Judicial Branch Administrative Offices
Attention: Central Processing Center
1 Granite Place, Suite N400
Concord, NH 03301
Are all New Hampshire Criminal Court Records Public?
Pursuant to New Hampshire Public Record laws, criminal court record information may be accessed by members of the public. However, the right of the public to view criminal court records is not absolute. Thus, while all criminal court records deemed ‘open’ may be accessed by interested members of the public records that have been sealed on the request of the subject(s) or deemed confidential by court order are not available to all requestors except those who meet specific eligibility requirements.
Most court case information accessible electronically may be considered public records. Public information often includes the personal information of the complainant and defendant as well as details of the crime being prosecuted, court summons, warrants, court orders, actions, motions and motion arguments as well as dispositions as well as the final judgment with details of all ascribed penalties. Other information available to the public includes court minutes, schedules and calendars and all other related records and information. On the other hand, records which are restricted from public dissemination usually includes;
- The identifying information of selected persons including juveniles and minors, abuse victims, selected witnesses and in some cases jurors
- Records of medical treatment and psychological evaluations
- The personal and contact information of selected restitution recipients
- Any evidence obtained through unlawful means
- Selected criminal investigation records.
Can I Access New Hampshire Sealed Criminal Court Records?
According to the provisions of New Hampshire state law, sealed or confidential criminal court records are available to persons who meet specific eligibility requirements. The information accessible to the requestor depends primarily on the authority of the requesting party and the record in question. Access to restricted criminal court records can be obtained by persons who challenge the confidentiality of the record or prove it’s relevance for legal or financial purposes. To access a sealed record, the requesting party can petition a New Hampshire licensed judge for a court order or subpoena authorizing access to the record of interest. In selected cases, the requestor may also be required to obtain and present notarized authorization from the subject(s) of the record. Generally, access to sealed or confidential records requires in-person requests made to the office of the record custodian.
Are New Hampshire Juvenile Criminal Records Open to the Public?
Most New Hampshire juvenile court records are automatically sealed by state statutes. Notwithstanding, the following persons may be allowed access to these records
- The juvenile
- The parent(s), legal guardian and legal representative of the juvenile.
- Authorized court personnel
- Child protective services and social services providers
- The plaintiff/victim (in the case) their parents and legal representative(s)
- Relevant and authorized persons in the educational system
Some juvenile criminal court records may be set aside or expunged according to the provisions of state law after a specific period has elapsed. Selected records that are sealed by state statutes may be released if the court consents to the dissemination of the record. Regardless of these restrictions, some information contained in juvenile criminal records may not be confidential. This includes details of the offense and its legal severity, and information pertaining to the court’s schedule, the personal information of the juvenile’s parents.