New Hampshire's Right-to-Know (RTK) law, RSA Chapter 91-A is the statute that dictates how public records are accessed and how government offices handle public records requests. They refer to public records as government records, and the Attorney General is the office that enforces the RTK law and makes sure government agencies are complying. The Attorney General's Office also put out a memorandum in March of 2015, updating the law even further. They are the office you need to contact should you have trouble getting records you need.
Government agencies such as the courts, local town council, town and city clerk's offices, law enforcement, and other government-run entities all create, store, maintain, and share public records. Each has its own procedure for obtaining them, and they have the right to charge fees per document.
"Openness in the conduct of public business is essential to a democratic society. The purpose of this chapter is to ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussions, and records of all public bodies and their accountability to the people." RSA 91-A:1. "Government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable, and responsive. To that end, the public's right of access to governmental proceedings and records shall not be unreasonably restricted."
The state of New Hampshire defines public records as "Governmental records meaning any information created, accepted, or obtained by, or on behalf of, any public body, or a quorum or majority thereof, or any public agency in furtherance of its official function. Without limiting the foregoing, the term "governmental records" includes any written communication or other information, whether in paper, electronic, or other physical form, received by a quorum or majority of a public body in furtherance of its official function, whether at a meeting or outside a meeting of the body. The term "governmental records" shall also include the term "public records." RSA 91-A:1-a (III)."
The New Hampshire Division of Archives & Records Management helps government agencies manage and store public records. It is also in charge of preserving the history of New Hampshire and all government records pertaining to historical public records and events. Along with vital records, they maintain town records, land records, government publications, photographs, war memorabilia, corporate records, and securities information. You can peruse their collections online or visit them in person in Concord, N.H.
The Right to Know advocacy group in New Hampshire provides explicit guidelines on how to request public records under New Hampshire's Right to Know Law.
In some cases, you will have to visit the government office in person to request records. Each agency has its own procedure and may charge different fees.
New Hampshire's Department of Safety, Division of State Police is the government agency in charge of criminal records. They are very liberal with their public records requests and will supply anyone with a copy of someone's criminal history. Most of the information is stored and categorized by fingerprints. You will have to pay between $10-$25 for each request. You can order them in person or by mail. The State Police has the mail-in form right on their website to download.
Some common types of criminal records in New Hampshire include (but are not limited to):
Court records in New Hampshire are created, stored, and maintained by the New Hampshire Judicial Branch of government. They have a special area on their website for attorneys; they allow e-filing for patrons of the court and a form so that you can easily request copies of court records. They do not keep all court records online. Therefore, you will have to use the form provided and mail in your request or visit the courthouse in person to make a request.
Some types of court records in New Hampshire include:
The New Hampshire court system consists of three levels starting with the Supreme Court, Superior Court, and then the Circuit Court.
New Hampshire arrest records are handled by local and state police. The New Hampshire's Department of Safety, Division of State Police handles criminal records requests for the state. They offer them to other government offices and the public. Most are processed through fingerprints, but you can request a name search. If you need more current arrest information, you can contact local police or the local courthouse records. You can also visit the New Hampshire Department of Corrections to obtain arrest records.
Some different types of arrests records in New Hampshire are:
The New Hampshire Vital Records Administration office in Concord, New Hampshire is the government agency in charge of vital records and statistics for the state. They keep track of birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates. They offer heirloom birth certificates for an additional fee. You can order them by mail or in person. They also issue certified copies in person and by mail. However, due to the interconnected systems, you can also visit any local town office to obtain a copy of your birth, death, marriage, divorce, and civil union certificates.
Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, other types of public records you can find in the state of New Hampshire include, but are not limited to:
New Hampshire's Right to Know Law has some exceptions which are different than other states. As stated in the memorandum from the Attorney General's Office:
Additionally, any personally identifiable information contained in public records like social security numbers, driver's licenses or other IDs, tax information, banking details, etc. will be redacted to protect the privacy of individuals.