BY: Citizens Count
To complete a criminal records check in New Hampshire, the person who is the subject of the check must provide notarized, written permission. That permission is sent to the state Department of Safety, which may take a few weeks to return a report.
HB 637 would remove the requirement for notarized permission and instead create a publicly available, online database of New Hampshire criminal records. Anyone could check someone else’s criminal history in New Hampshire for a fee.
Need for faster background checks?
Supporters of HB 637 argue that New Hampshire’s criminal records check process takes too long compared to other states. Employers in the health care field testified they lose potential employees to employers in states with faster background checks.
At the Senate hearing for HB 637, representatives from the state police testified that New Hampshire and Rhode Island are the only states in New England that require notarized, written permission to get criminal records.
On Thursday, May 30, the Senate voted to amend the bill so that the electronic criminal history database would not be available through a public website – members of the public would still have to contact the Department of Safety to access records. The Department of Safety is evaluating this amendment and has not yet issued a statement on its impact. The House and Senate must agree on a final version of the bill.
In general, supporters of the amendment are concerned about easy access to criminal records leading to harassment. While criminal convictions are public information, they believe people still deserve some privacy protections about their past.
Other opponents of HB 637 believe there should still be a requirement for notarized permission from the subject of the records check.