N.H. conviction annulment discussed

Staff photo by Dean Shalhoup Attorney Donna Brown, a partner in the Manchester law firm Wadleigh, Starr and Peters who organizes annulment clinics through the New Hampshire Bar Association's pro bono program, advises a woman who didn't want to be identified on a legal matter during Monday's clinic at Nashua Public Library.

NASHUA – While it is not surprising that people convicted of crimes such as murder, arson, robbery, felonious sexual assault, first-degree assault and child pornography can never get the charges annulled, it may come as news to some that a felony conviction doesn’t stop a person from voting in New Hampshire.

Those and numerous other state statutes regarding the process through which those convicted of crimes must go if they want to make charges disappear forever was the topic of a presentation during a Monday forum organized by the New Hampshire Bar Association.

Referred to as an annulment clinic, the forum at the Nashua Public Library drew nearly 50 people seeking to learn more about the process – and to sit down with one of six participating lawyers for a one-on-one discussion about their own specific cases, all on a pro bono basis.

Co-sponsored by the bar and the Greater Nashua chapter of the NAACP, the clinic, in addition to a slide-show introduction and the individual pro bono consultations with lawyers, also provided a list of websites, emails and phone numbers to connect people with various resources as they navigate the annulment process.

Attendees declined to discuss their specific circumstances with The Telegraph, citing in many instances their desire to keep the information private due to employment or similar concerns.

Janice Rabchenuk, director of the bar’s Pro Bono Referral Program, told attendees about the bar’s “Modest Means” program, which helps low-income people access legal assistance at reduced costs.

Organizers, meanwhile, clarified an oft-asked question regarding the terms “annul” and “expunge,” telling the group they describe the same process. New Hampshire uses annul, they added.

Another statute regarding annulments that may not be widely known is the time frame. A person seeking to have a Class A felony annulled must wait at least 10 years from the date that all sentencing orders have been met – not 10 years from the date that the crime occurred or when the person was convicted or sentenced.

For Class B felonies, the wait is at least five years, and at least three years for a Class A misdemeanor.

The New Hampshire Bar periodically hosts annulment clinics at various locations around the state. For more information, go to www.nhbar.org.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, or, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.