Legislators told to make sure crime victims get restitution before criminal cases are erased
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Offenders in New Hampshire are eligible to have certain criminal convictions erased only after fully paying restitution to their victims, but a bill now before a House committee could allow for criminal records to be wiped clean before that financial obligation is met.
While Senate Bill 311 aims to streamline the annulment process by reducing the waiting period, expanding eligibility and eliminating fees, opponents say the proposed reform would remove the judicial branch’s ability to monitor and compel restitution payments once the case is sealed and leaves the public records system. Further, prosecutors say the bill could have a significant and direct effect on plea negotiations where an offender’s willingness to pay restitution is commonly weighed in favor of a less severe sentence.