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What Are The Differences Between Federal And State Crimes?

New Hampshire state crimes refer to illegal acts that violate the state’s criminal laws. These crimes are investigated by state agencies and prosecuted by criminal courts in the state. Common state crimes include DWIs, assault, murder, robbery, drug crimes, domestic abuse, sexual assault, larceny, and burglary. On the other hand, federal crimes are offenses that break federal laws, cross state lines, involve a federal officer/personnel, involve a national issue, or are committed on federal property. Examples include electoral fraud, counterfeiting, carjacking, wire fraud, organized crimes, identity theft, and murder. At times, a crime may break both federal and state laws concurrently, giving both federal and state courts the authority to prosecute the offender for the same charges. In these scenarios, one authority may cede prosecution to the other, and if that fails, they may pursue prosecution for the same charges.

How Does the New Hampshire Court System Differ From the Federal Court System?

The New Hampshire court system differs from the federal court system with respect to prosecutors, trial courts, investigative agencies, appeal courts, and judges that handle criminal cases. The State’s courts are divided into the Supreme Court, Superior Court, District Court, and Circuit Court. The Circuit Court is further split into the District, Family, and Probate Divisions. Misdemeanors are handled by the Circuit Court District Division. The Superior Court hears all felonies in the state, including misdemeanor appeals from the District Division. The Supreme Court is the state’s appellate court and can hear appeals from the Superior Court and the Circuit Court District Division. State prosecutors, otherwise called county attorneys, are appointed by the New Hampshire Attorney General to represent the state in criminal prosecutions. In New Hampshire, judges or justices do not serve for terms neither do they partake in judicial elections. Instead, they are recommended by the judicial selection commission, chosen by the governor, confirmed by the executive council, and serve until the age of 70. All court procedures in criminal proceedings are covered by Title LIX of New Hampshire Statutes, and sentencing guidelines under Title LX.

The Federal District Courts hear all federal criminal matters that arise in the United States. There are 94 district courts in total, 1 of which is located in New Hampshire. Investigations for criminal offenses are handled by federal agencies such as the United States Secret Service (USSS), (IRS), Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS), United States Marshal Service (USMS), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The United States Attorney General appoints federal prosecutors and federal judges are appointed for life by the Senate. Guidelines for criminal proceedings are established in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Federal Rules of Evidence, and the district court’s Local Rules. Sentencing for federal offenses are usually harsher than state crimes and are considered with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Criminal appeals from the federal district courts are heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit located in Boston, Massachusetts.

How Many Federal Courts Are There In New Hampshire?

New Hampshire has two federal courts, namely:

  • The United States District Court District of New Hampshire
  • The United States Bankruptcy Court District of New Hampshire
  • The United States District Court District of New Hampshire is located in Concord City at the address below:

United States District Court

District of New Hampshire

55 Pleasant Street

Room 110

Concord, NH 03301

Phone: (603) 225–1423

Phone (Toll-free): (855) 333–2052

  • The United States Bankruptcy Court District of New Hampshire is located in Concord City at the following address:

Warren B. Rudman

United States Courthouse

55 Pleasant Street

Room 200

Concord, NH 03301

Phone: (603) 222–2600

Fax: (603) 222–2697

Are Federal Cases Public Records?

Generally, federal cases are open to any member of the public, except records that are sealed or expunged by statute or court order. These exclusions include redacted information such as the names of minors, home addresses, financial numbers, and dates of births of defendants, witnesses, victims, and informants. The courts provide electronic and paper ordering services whereby interested parties may view or obtain records. There is no amount charged when a party’s request is to view a record; however, there is a nominal fee charged for reproducing the record. All record charges in federal courts are listed on the fee schedule.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state where the person resides or was accused.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How To Find Federal Court Records Online

Members of the public may access federal court records online using the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). This system can be used to obtain federal criminal case files, docket sheets, daily case listings, final judgments, court opinions, and other case-related information and documents from 2005 to date. Although an individual needs a PACER login and password to view and obtain case files, court opinions are free to view on the Federal Digital System or New Hampshire District Court’s Opinion Search. With PACER, it is possible to search for criminal records from the District Court in New Hampshire or appeals court. Parties who are not certain of the court of record may use the PACER Case Locator to confirm, and the FAQ and help pages to obtain information on using the platform. The relevant courts may be contacted to find electronic records or dockets that are not available on PACER.

How To Find Federal Court Records In New Hampshire?

The Clerk of District Court provides federal court records in electronic and paper forms for a fee. Electronic records are available at public access terminals in the Clerk’s office while paper copies may be requested in-person from the Clerk. There is no charge to view any court record, but there is a charge for each copy request. Copy fees for the court may be viewed on the fee schedule. Archived paper records of criminal cases are kept in the court for 2 years after the cases are closed before being transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Closed paper records over 2 years old may be ordered from NARA or retrieved through the court, provided the records have not been destroyed. NARA usually keeps paper records for 15 years before they are destroyed or made permanent records. Inquiries on the availability of archived records over 15 years old may be directed to the NARA Federal Records Center at (781) 663–0378. The requesting party will be required to provide the following information to obtain an archived record:

  • Court location
  • Case file name and number
  • Transfer number
  • Box number
  • Location number

It is possible to obtain the information listed above from the Clerk’s office or on PACER (via docket entries).

Transcript requests of criminal proceedings may be made to the official court reporters. Available formats include paper, electronic, ASCII disk, or CD. Usually, transcripts are prepared within 30 days but may be expedited within 3, 7, or 14 days. Original transcripts range from $3.65 to $30, first copies range from 90 cents to $1.20, and additional copies from 60 to 90 cents, depending on the order. Contact information and detailed fees for orders are available on the transcript requests page.

Can Federal Crimes Be Dismissed In New Hampshire?

Under Rule 48 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, federal crimes can be dismissed in New Hampshire by the federal government and courts. Following this law, when the government moves to dismiss a charge, it must be with the defendant’s consent or upon approval of the court. For the courts, there are only 3 reasons why criminal charges may be dismissed, and all involve unnecessary delays that may occur in presenting charges, evidence, or the defendant. However, it should be noted that if the dismissal granted is one without prejudice, the government and courts still have the authority to pursue the charges in the future.

How Do I Clear My Federal Criminal Record?

Typically, an expungement order clears or removes convictions, charges, and arrest records from a criminal record. This is a form of relief given to ex-offenders as the existence of a criminal record may negatively affect employment, education, immigration, financial, and housing opportunities. In New Hampshire, parties convicted of state crimes have more options to expunge their criminal records than federal offenders. One reason for this is because federal statutes do not directly address expungement, except in one instance: the Federal First Offender Act §3607. Also, without merit or pardon, the criteria for expungement is quite limited. As a result, expungements for federal convictions are few and far between. Still, interested individuals may petition the court in writing or contact the court where the case was heard for more details. Other instances where an expungement order may be granted for a federal conviction include:

  • Invalid convictions as a result of outdated laws
  • Government misconduct
  • If a clerical error occurred when entering the conviction
  • Criminal Records
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