New Hampshire Court Records
What are New Hampshire Juvenile Court Records?
In New Hampshire, juvenile court records contain information on case proceedings that involve delinquency acts and children in need of services (CHINs) petitions. Delinquency acts occur when a child younger than seventeen years of age commits an offense that will be considered a crime if they were an adult. There are no minimum age limitations for bringing a juvenile to court except for truancy complaints in which the child must be at least six years old.
Juvenile court cases are heard in both the District Court division and Family Court division of the New Hampshire Judicial Branch. Both courts handle juvenile cases and decide the punishments for delinquent acts and resolutions for other juvenile-related cases. The Superior Court or Supreme Court can also hear juvenile cases appealed from the lower trial courts.
Juvenile court records are typically generated and maintained by the court that the case was heard.
What Information is Contained in a New Hampshire Juvenile Record?
Typically, New Hampshire juvenile records contain information regarding the defendant’s details, delinquency acts, and other details and relevant documents used in the court proceedings. Under Section 169-B:35 of the state’s Public Safety and Welfare law, all cases relative to juvenile delinquency are confidential records and only accessible to eligible persons.
However, Section 169-B:31-b specifies the kind of information collected in the juvenile system, which includes:
- The charges led to the child’s involvement with the juvenile justice system.
- The juvenile’s racial and ethnic identity
- Information concerning paid services or programs to whom the department has referred a child
- Information that the court can use to appraise the services of organizations that offer assistance to delinquents and minors in need.
- Details of court-ordered services after adjudication and disposition of cases
What Cases are Heard by New Hampshire Juvenile Courts?
New Hampshire juvenile courts hear cases on the following matters:
Juvenile Delinquency: Juvenile delinquency cases involve court proceedings concerning persons below the age of eighteen that commit offenses that will be classified as crimes if they were adults. Typically, concerned individuals file a petition which alleges the offenses of a minor with a family court. The court shall issue a summons that is served to the residential address of the minor’s guardian. Law officers can also take immediate custody of minors that commit offenses against the laws. Ultimately, the court gives a verdict on juvenile delinquency cases. Sentencing options that the court gives on delinquency cases include fines, victim compensation, community service, supervision by a probation/parole office, community-organized treatment programs, and out-of-home placements.
Alternatively, the state court also provides a Juvenile Diversion program that offers minors an alternative method of dispute resolution instead of court proceedings. The juvenile court has jurisdiction over such persons and may retain its jurisdiction if recommended by the state’s juvenile department. Minors who complete a juvenile diversion program will have their case closed without receiving a juvenile court conviction, provided they commit no further crimes.
Children in Need of Services (CHINS): A CHINS petition can be filed by a parent, school officials, or law enforcement officers. Petitioners must have earlier resorted to resolving the issue with the juvenile using other approaches before bringing them to court. However, the burden of proof is on the party filing the petition. Typically, this petition can be filed for persons under eighteen years who:
- Habitually runs away from home
- Repeatedly disregards instructions from their parent/guardian
- Diagnosed with serious emotional or mental health issues that result in aggressive behaviors that may endanger others
- Is urgently in need of care, treatment, supervision, or rehabilitation
Who is Eligible to View Juvenile Records in New Hampshire?
Although juvenile records in New Hampshire are confidential information and inaccessible to the general public, some individuals and officials are eligible to view such records. According to Section 169-B:35 of the state laws, juvenile information is disclosed to the following parties:
- Persons entrusted with the corrective management of the minor
- Juvenile probation and parole officers
- The juvenile’s parents, guardians, or anyone in charge of their primary care
- The minor’s attorney
- The institution that the court commits a minor to
- Persons with a court-issued order or the written approval of the minor can also inspect juvenile records
- Law enforcement officers that are investigating a juvenile delinquency case have access to the juvenile’s police records
- Prosecutors involved in the suit of a minor’s criminal offense are also eligible to access police records regarding juvenile
- By state laws, the New Hampshire Department of Safety can release registration information of juveniles that are mandated to register as a sex offender to law enforcement agencies.
How to Find Juvenile Records in New Hampshire
New Hampshire juvenile court records are only available to persons eligible under Section 169-B:35 of the state laws. However, persons looking to obtain juvenile court records can try to get a court order that permits them to inspect certain information. Interested parties can also get written approval from a minor that permits custodians to disclose juvenile information on them.
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 that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
Can You Lookup New Hampshire Juvenile Records Online?
No, the New Hampshire Family Court division does not have any online resources available to lookup juvenile records it maintains. Persons looking to lookup juvenile court records can contact the clerk of the court to get information about the available options provided by the court.
Do New Hampshire Juvenile Records Show up on Background Checks?
New Hampshire juvenile records may show up in the background checks of persons below the age of twenty-one. Juvenile records in New Hampshire are automatically closed and sealed when the subject becomes twenty-one years of age. However, some employers might get access to juvenile records of prospective employees. Law enforcement officers and individuals with court orders may also have certain juvenile information disclosed to them.
How Long are Juvenile Records Kept in New Hampshire?
Pursuant to Section 169-B:35, the juvenile court records, and other related information of delinquents are closed and put in an inactive file when they reach the age of twenty-one. The court also closes cases within two years of the date of adjudication of offenses that are not classified as violent crimes.