Why you should have your record of arrest, conviction and sentence annulled.

icon-lady-scales90I was recently asked: “Why should I have my record of arrest, conviction and sentence annulled.” I was quick to respond: “Can you give me one good reason why you shouldn’t?”

A few years ago, we helped an individual annul 40-50 convictions! I will forever remember his reasoning: “I came into this world without a conviction and I want to go out of this world the same way.” The man had cancer and he was motivated to go out the right way.

People in New Hampshire are very fortunate to have an annulment statute. With certain exceptions, the record of arrest, conviction and sentence of any person may be annulled by the sentencing court at any time in response to a petition for annulment which is timely brought in accordance with the provisions of the annulment statute. The request to annul will be granted, if in the opinion of the court, the annulment will assist in the petitioner’s rehabilitation and will be consistent with the public welfare. The court may grant or deny an annulment without a hearing, unless a hearing is requested by the petitioner. Some of our petitions have been denied – but most have been granted.

Any person 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 accordance with the provisions of the annulment statute.

You can’t petition to annul until you have completed all the terms and conditions of your sentence. Even then, you have to wait a certain amount of time after you’ve completed everything you have to complete – like pay a fine, finish probation, serve a jail sentence, etc.

You can only petition for an annulment if, following your conviction, you have thereafter been convicted of no other crime, except a motor vehicle offense classified as a violation other than driving while intoxicated.

Here’s how long you have to wait:

(a) For a violation-level offense, one year, unless the underlying conviction was for an offense specified under RSA 259:39 – the habitual offender statute.
(b) For a class B misdemeanor except as provided in subparagraph (f), 3 years.
(c) For a class A misdemeanor except as provided in subparagraph (f), 3 years.
(d) For a class B felony except as provided in subparagraph (g), 5 years.
(e) For a class A felony, 10 years.
(f) For sexual assault under RSA 632-A:4, 10 years.
(g) For felony indecent exposure or lewdness under RSA 645:1, II, 10 years.

Note this – if your petition for annulment is denied, no further petition shall be brought more frequently than every 3 years thereafter. Therefore, it is important to get your paperwork right before submitting it. Technical errors can keep you from getting another chance at annulment for 3 years.

No petition shall be brought and no annulment granted in the case of any violent crime, of felony obstruction of justice crimes, or of any offense for which the petitioner was sentenced to an extended term of imprisonment under RSA 651:6. A “violent crime” means: (a) Capital murder, first or second degree murder, manslaughter, or class A felony negligent homicide under RSA 630; (b) First degree assault under RSA 631:1; (c) Aggravated felonious sexual assault or felonious sexual assault under RSA 632-A; (d) Kidnapping or criminal restraint under RSA 633;
(e) Class A felony arson under RSA 634:1; (f) Robbery under RSA 636; (g) Incest under RSA 639:2, III or endangering the welfare of a child by solicitation under RSA 639:3, III; or (h) Any felonious child pornography offense under RSA 649-A.

1. This statute makes sense to me. It is consistent with the principle of redemption. Former politician, Adlai E. Stevenson said it best: “I believe in the forgiveness of sin and the redemption of ignorance.”