New Hampshire Public Records

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The following is for informational purposes only

What are New Hampshire Public Records, and How are They Created?

New Hampshire Public Records

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.

 

How to Access New Hampshire Public Records?

How to Access New Hampshire Public Records

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.

  • Determine what records you want to review, be specific.
  • Use the template provided on the RTK website and document your request.
  • Ask for an estimate for the records you want to purchase.
  • Submit your request to the custodian of the records you want to receive.
  • Wait for your response. The government agency typically has five business days to comply.
  • If you are denied, contact the Attorney General's Office to appeal.

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.

 

Different Types of Public Records in New Hampshire

New Hampshire Criminal Records

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):

  • Felony and Misdemeanor Records - some common misdemeanors in New Hampshire are prostitution, disorderly conduct, shoplifting (less than $1,000), and simple assault. Some felonies in New Hampshire include murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, an assault that results in serious bodily injury, sex crimes, and drug crimes.
  • NH Inmate Locator - both jails and prisons keep inmate records, and those too are public records. The New Hampshire Department of Corrections has an online search tool you can use to locate criminals and their records.
  • Police Records - local police can provide copies of incident reports, police reports, sometimes mugshots, and even crime scene photos upon request.

New Hampshire Court Records

Different Types of Public Records in New Hampshire

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:

  • Civil Court Records - domestic relations cases such as divorces, marriages, paternity lawsuits, custody and child support cases, estates, conservatorships, wills, civil lawsuits, and small claims lawsuits.
  • Criminal Court Records - criminal filings for misdemeanors, felonies, and other citations. These may include things like trial paperwork, sentencing, prison transfers, and evidence related to the court case.
  • Financial Court Records - bankruptcies, liens, tax issues, company stock filings, and corporate financial reports.
  • Other Court Records - such as bench warrants, arrest warrants, judgments, traffic tickets, and other traffic violations, worker's compensation cases, and name changes.

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

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:

  • Drug charges.
  • Murder.
  • Shoplifting.
  • Jaywalking.
  • DUI.
  • Domestic abuse.
  • Petty theft.
  • DUIs.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Booking details like fingerprints and mugshots.
  • Arrest warrants granted by a judge.
  • Bench warrants for not appearing in court.
  • Crime scene photos.
  • Witness statements.
  • Property crimes and accompanying paperwork.
  • Vehicle records if one was used during the crime.

New Hampshire Vital Records

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.

 

Other Public Records in New Hampshire

Other Public Records in New Hampshire

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:

  • Government budgets and annual reports.
  • Driving records (without personally identifiable information).
  • Home addresses.
  • Maps, books, and tapes.
  • State health and wellness statistics.
  • Air and water quality (pollution reports).
  • Property records, real estate deals, and land deeds.
  • Home phone numbers.
  • Police and accident reports.
  • Liens & tax issues.
  • Company incorporation records.
  • Demographics.
  • Library Research.
  • Personnel records for state agencies.
  • Permits, licenses, and certifications.
  • Government employee salaries.
 

What Information is Not Public Record in New Hampshire?

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:

  • "The Right-to-Know law does not apply to the Courts or the judicial branch of government. The Courts are subject to a constitutional requirement of openness that is similar to, but not identical to, the Right-to-Know law. Court rules and Supreme Court decisions define the public's constitutional right of access to most court hearings and to certain information held by the courts. Seesection VII, (Court Records), in this Memorandum.
  • The Right-to-Know law does not apply to most charitable non-profit corporations. However, most charitable organizations are required to file certain information with the State. These filings are public and can be accessed through the Charitable Trusts Unit of the Attorney General's Office. http://doj.nh.gov/charitable/index.html."

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.