New Hampshire Court Records
What Are New Hampshire Specialty Courts?
The New Hampshire Drug and Mental Health Courts are specialty criminal courts for offenders with mental health or substance abuse challenges. The courts are available at various Superior Court and Circuit Court locations across the state.
New Hampshire Drug Courts
Drug Courts are not found in all New Hampshire counties. In counties where they are, the Drug Court serves as an alternative to incarceration. Drug Courts are for high-risk and high-need addicts. The court’s operation requires collaboration between the judge, prosecutor, treatment provider, defense attorney, and law enforcement. To be eligible for the Drug Court scheme, the interested individual must satisfy the following conditions:
- Be diagnosed as having a moderate or severe substance abuse disorder, as defined by DSM;
- obtain a validated risk assessment higher than low;
- Above the age of 17 years;
- Reside within the Drug Court jurisdiction;
- Being diagnosed with mental health disorder and recommended by a counselor.
- Be a US citizen.
Another requirement for eligibility is that the individual must reside in the county where the Drug Court is located and must have committed the crime in that county.
To determine eligibility, an offender must be referred for the program and go through a screening process. A referral may be carried out by the prosecution, defense, law enforcement, court, or an interested party, including the potential participant.
After referral, a Drug Court team member would conduct a legal screening exercise to determine if the offender is legally eligible. This process will consider the existence of prior convictions or pending charges. Afterward, the clinical staff will assess whether the offender qualifies for their substance abuse, personal history, and necessary conditions to prevent reoffending.
Some potential disqualifying factors are:
- Offenders with serious medical conditions outside the provision of the Drug Treatment Court;
- Offenders with mental health issues not treatable by the Drug Treatment Court;
- Substance Abusers (Low Need);
- Low-Risk offenders;
- Offenders with dual diagnosis, without medical management, treatment plan, or willingness for either;
- Drug Profiteers
If an application is successful, the offender must plead guilty to the offense they brought to court. After a guilty plea, the individual is placed on probation or parole and mandated to attend court weekly. The person will also be in treatment three hours a day for three days a week, participate in daily self-help meetings, and submit to random drug tests twice a week.
Additionally, the individual is placed under the probation department’s supervision, whose officers carry out random house visits twice a week. In the latter parts of the program, the person must find a job, get a GED, pay restitution, and graduate from the program.
The Drug Court procedure is a multi-agency program that involves representatives from different agencies within the state. Each case consists of a team comprising the following:
- Drug Court Judge
- Drug Court Coordinator
- Case Manager(s)
- Representative(s) from the treatment agency
- Representative(s) from state probation & parole and other community supervision officers
- Representative(s) from the county prosecutor office
- Representative(s) from the public defender
- Representative(s) from law enforcement or House of Corrections
The Drug Court program lasts between 18 and 24 months. Participants in the program are expected to adhere to a set of official rules. If the rules are broken, sanctions range from increased court appearances to incarceration.
The following counties have Drug Courts and can be contacted for inquiries:
Belknap Superior Court
64 Court Street
Laconia, NH 03246
Carroll County Courthouse
96 Water Village Road - Box 3
Ossipee, NH 03864
Cheshire Superior Court
33 Winter Street, Suite 2
Keene, NH 03431
Coos Superior Court
55 School Street, Suite 301
Lancaster, NH 03584
Grafton Superior Court
3785 Dartmouth College Highway
North Haverhill, NH 03774
Hillsborough County Superior Court North
300 Chestnut Street
Manchester, NH 03101
Hillsborough County Superior Court South
30 Spring Street
Nashua, NH 03060
Merrimack Superior Court
163 North Main Street
PO. Box 2880
Concord, NH 03302–2880
Rockingham Superior Court
Rockingham County Courthouse
10 Route 125
Mailing Address: PO. Box 1258, Kingston, NH 03848–1258
Strafford Superior Court
Strafford County Justice & Administration Building
259 County Farm Road
Dover, NH 03820
New Hampshire Mental Health Courts
Certain counties in New Hampshire have Mental Health Courts. These courts hold limited jurisdiction over criminal cases where the offender may have a mental illness. To be eligible for the Mental Health Court, the illness must have contributed to the offense which was committed.
New Hampshire Mental Health Courts adopt a treatment program as an alternative to the traditional criminal trial and justice system. Each county with a Mental Health Court has a handbook that outlines qualification requirements, procedures, and other related matters. Although these procedures are generally similar, minor differences exist. For example, the Lebanon Mental Health Court program may handle any criminal case. In contrast, offenders in Manchester may only apply to the Mental Health Court in non-violent criminal matters such as violations, misdemeanors, and felonies. Interested persons may check each court’s handbook for any such differences.
To get on the program, a referral must be made by the bail commissioner, prosecutor, defense counsel, treatment provider, family members, or the court.
Offenders must be diagnosed with a mental illness or have a diagnosable mental illness that contributed to the crime committed. Applicants are assessed in relation to psychological concerns, substance abuse, education, life skills, and vocational skills. Treatment may only begin if the applicant is considered suitable by the assessor. Note that further assessments may be required if deemed appropriate or necessary.
Offenders who choose to participate in the treatment program must sign a one-year contract of commitment to the program. Offenders who refuse to sign the contract cannot participate in the program and have to go through a normal trial. To commence treatment, a plan will be drawn up with input from the offender, the treatment team, court representative, and in some instances, the court. The court representative monitors treatment for participants.
There must be compliance with the treatment plan for the program to be completed. Sanctions for non-compliance range from increased court reviews or community service to termination of the program. If the program is terminated, the offender is sent back to the trial court. Upon completion, the court may certify the case closed without any further prosecution. Otherwise, the court may order extended participation in the program.
Mental Health Courts are located in the following counties: