It is against the law
to cause bodily injury to another. It is also against
the Law for your spouse/partner to:
Injure you (RSA
Threaten you so
that you fear for your physical safety (RSA 631:4);
contact or relations on you against your will (RSA
631:1,2,2-a,4; RSA 632-A)
residence or home against your will if you are
living separately (RSA 635:2);
imprisonment (RSA 633.3);
threaten to destroy your property (RSA 631:1 or 2);
Follow you around
or act in a way that would make a reasonable person
afraid (RSA 633:3-a).
All of these crimes
are abuse. If any member of your household or your
spouse, ex-spouse, partner or ex-partner, or someone you
have dated or are dating has done any of these things to
you, you may seek protection from the courts and
police. You may request the courts to order the abuser
(your attacker) to stay away from you and to stop
abusing you. Separately, you may also ask the police to
file criminal charges against this individual.
New Hampshire has a
law designed to protect any adult against domestic
violence. That law is RSA 173-B. Minors may also
petition the court for restraining orders against
persons with whom they are currently or formerly
involved (in a romantic relationship whether or not ever
You do not have to be
married to or even have lived with the person who abused
you to utilize this law. The law protects you from abuse
by current or former, sexual or intimate partners, as
well as past or present household or family members. You
do not have to file for a divorce; you do not need a
lawyer; and you do not have to pay any court costs or
If you can show that you are in immediate danger of
being abused, a judge can give you emergency protection.
The court may issue immediate orders directing the
abuser not to abuse you and not to enter your residence,
workplace or school. The court may also issue an
emergency order granting you temporary custody of your
children and ordering the abuser to turn over to a peace
officer any firearms or other deadly weapons he/she
could use to harm you.
These orders may be
issued the same day you file your papers. Copies of
these emergency orders will be sent to your local police
station and state police headquarters. These orders are
in effect anywhere in New Hampshire.
How to Get A
1) Go to a court that can properly help you. You may get
restraining orders from the following courts:
court of the town in which either you or the abuser
court of the county in which either of you or the
If you have left
your home and are living in a place to escape, you
can go to the court closest to your temporary home.
The court will not tell anyone your new address.
If you move while the case is pending, you may ask the
court to transfer the case to the court most convenient
to your new home. Be sure that the court knows how to
contact you. The court will hold your whereabouts in
2) Ask the clerk of the court for a Domestic Violence
Petition. Simply write down (as clearly and in as much
detail as possible) shat happened to you. You must
include the date, the time, the location and the
important facts about the abuse. You will have to swear
that what you have written is true.
If you ask for emergency orders, the clerk will take the
papers to a judge. If you see the judge, just tell
him/her simply and honestly what happened to you and why
you are in danger. If the judge finds that you are in
danger, he/she may immediately issue protective orders.
You will get a copy of the order from the clerk of the
3) You may be asked
to take your petition and your protective orders to the
sheriff or to the police who will serve them on the
abusive person. There is no charge for this service. You
must tell the police or sheriff exactly where he/she can
find the individual.
If You Need A
Protective Order And The Court Is Closed
If you are in immediate danger of domestic abuse and no
court is open, you may get a protective order by
contacting the nearest police department. A police
officer can help you fill out the proper form and reach
a judge by telephone.
When completing the form, use as much detail as
possible, being specific about dates, times and
incidences of abuse. The police officer will read the
judge what you have written. If the judge feels you are
in immediate danger, he/she can issue a protective order
over the phone. This order will be served on your
abuser. This Emergency Order will only be effective
until the close of business on the next regular court
business day. For the protection to remain in effect,
you must go to the nearest district or superior court
before the close of the next business day to ask for a
new temporary order.
Hearing On Your
A full hearing will
be scheduled on your petition within 30 days of when you
file it or within 10 days of the date the petition is
served on your abuser, whichever is later. The abuser
may also ask for a hearing within 5 days, if so, you
You have the right to
have a lawyer represent you at the hearing. It is a good
idea to see a lawyer if you think custody or child
support will be disputed, or if you have been severely
injured or expect an injury to last a long time.
If you cannot afford
a lawyer, the Crisis Center in you county may be able to
refer you to a lawyer who will handle your case pro bono
(for free). You can find out which Crisis Center is
nearest to you by calling
At the hearing you
will have to testify before the judge about what
happened and why you want the restraining order. If you
have a history of being abused by your attacker, or if
he or she has abused any other member of your family,
you should tell the judge.
Also tell the
If you have
children, whether or not you wish to have them with
you, and if you are not married to the abusive
person, whether or not he/she is their parent.
If you own joint
property with the abusive person, including your
residence, exactly what you want and need for the
children and yourself.
If you lost money
because of the attack, how much you lost and what
Know that your abuser
will probably be at the hearing and he/she or his/her
attorney will have an opportunity to ask you questions.
You should bring
witnesses, medical records, police records, and other
official documents for the judge to see. The judge will
base a decision on all the facts presented.
Shelter and Assistance
If you and your
children need to flee from danger, help is available.
There are Crisis Centers in each county in New Hampshire
that provide shelter for abused persons and their
families. To get in touch with these groups you can
call, free of charge, 1-800-852-3388, 24 hours a day.
Crisis Centers are
there to help you even if you have decided not to leave
your relationship/abusive partner. They have advocates
trained to aid you with shelter, counseling, to explain
the legal procedure to you, and accompany you to court,
the hospital or to get public assistance. These
advocates are not lawyers. In certain
circumstances they may be able to refer you to a lawyer
through the Domestic Violence Emergency (DOVE) Project
of the New Hampshire Bar Association, DOVE provides free
legal representation to low-income individuals at final
domestic violence hearings.
In addition to
emergency protective orders, you may also ask the court
to issue a final order:
temporary custody of the children, ordering the abuser
to pay child support for them and ordering the abuser to
maintain coverage for the children and you on his/her
health insurance policy (if legally responsible to do
Granting you use of
any jointly-owned property including your residence,
household furniture and your car;
Ordering the abuser
to surrender any firearms or other deadly weapons he/she
has access to or could use to harm you;
Ordering the abuser
to reimburse you for any out-of-pocket expenses
resulting from the attack, such as hospital, doctor or
dentist bills, lost wages, taxi fares or baby-sitting
costs, moving or shelter expenses;
abuser from intimidating or threatening you, your
relatives (whether or not they live with you) or your
Directing the abuser
to attend Batterer’s Intervention, Anger Management or
The court may issue
these orders after a hearing where you prove to a judge
you have been abused. These orders are effective for one
year unless otherwise stated. At the end of the year,
you may go back to court and ask the judge to extend the
protective orders if you still fear possible abuse.
Once a protective
order is in effect against the abuser, it is a crime and
contempt of court for the abuser to violate the order.
If the abuser knowingly violates a protective order in
any way, it is a crime and the police may prosecute. If
the abuser violates a protective order by committing
assault, criminal trespass, stalking or another criminal
act, the police must arrest and prosecute him/her. In
addition, you may take the abuser back to court on a
charge of contempt. A contempt hearing must be held
within 14 days, and if the abuser is found guilty,
he/she may be fined or put in jail.
In addition to
getting a protective order, you may also ask the police
to help you and to charge your abuser with a crime(s).
If the police have good cause to believe that you have
been assaulted within the past six hours by a current or
former spouse/partner/date or that a restraining order
has been issued, they may immediately arrest the abuser
and file criminal charges against him/her. If it has
been more than six hours, they must first get a warrant
to arrest the abuser.
Once a complaint is
filed either at the court or the police department, your
abuser will either be arrested or summoned to court.
Most people are released from custody soon after their
arrest, do not expect the abuser to be confined
to jail before the trial. If you fear the abuser may
retaliate upon his/her release, you may request a bail
condition: for example, that the abuser stay away from
you. If the defendant violates the bail order (e.g., the
abuser does not stay away from you), the abuser may have
to return to jail.
In order to prosecute
the abuser, you will be required to testify under oath
in open court about what happened during the incident
you complained about. If you have been threatened or
abused at other times by this individual, be sure to
tell the police or the prosecutor before trial about
those additional incidents.
Once you have completed a police statement, the police
or the county may prosecute or bring charges against the
abuser. This complaint is brought by the State of New
Hampshire and you cannot withdraw it. You may be
subpoenaed to testify.
Against the Law In New Hampshire
It is against the law
To follow you around
more than once, appear more than once at your home, work
or other place where you are, intending to make you or a
"reasonable person" afraid;
To intimidate you by
causing substantial emotional distress or threaten you
with death or bodily injury; or
To follow you around
even once, or show up at your home, work or other place
described in your order if you have a restraining order
or bail order against him/her.
If you think you are
being stalked, call the police right away. The police
can arrest the person who is stalking you if the officer
believes it happened within the past six hours. If there
is a protective order in place, the police must arrest
him/her. The police can make an arrest even if they did
not see the person follow, threaten or intimidate you.
Effective January 1,
1998, a person who is being stalked can obtain a
protective order under the same procedures and
conditions as those issued for victims of domestic
violence. You may petition for such a protective order
in the district or superior court where either you or
the person who is stalking you reside.
Enforces Restraining Orders From Other States
If you have a
restraining order from another state, you can protect
yourself by going to any district court in New Hampshire
to file a copy of this order with the New Hampshire
courts. The clerk will then make a copy of the order
available to the police.
Be sure to tell the
police if you have a restraining order from another
state if you call to report you have been abused,
followed, threatened or intimidated.
Your New Hampshire
order should be enforceable in other states as well.