Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Defined

New Hampshire defines Domestic Violence as the act of one or more of eight (8) acts by a family, household member, or current or former sexual or intimate partner, determined to constitute a credible present threat to the petitioner’s safety.

Acts include but are not limited to:

1) Assault or reckless conduct
Purposely causing serious bodily injury to another with or without a deadly weapon.

2) Criminal threatening
Placing fear of bodily injury or physical harm against another, or threatening another person or property with the intent to terrorize.

3) Sexual assault
When one engages in sexual penetration with another under any of the following circumstances:

  • When the victim is helpless to resist
  • When the actor overcomes the victim through physical force, violence, or strength

  • By threatening the victim
  • Circumstances involving false imprisonment, kidnapping, or extortion
  • Administering an intoxicating substance which mentally incapacitates the victim
  • Using a position as a medical or therapy provider to coerce the victim to submit

4) Interference with freedom (Kidnapping)
A person is guilty of kidnapping if he knowingly confines another under his control with a purpose to:

  • Hold the victim for ransom or hostage
  • Avoid apprehension by a law enforcement officer
  • Terrorize or commit an offense against the victim

5) Destruction of property (Arson)
Knowingly starting a fire or explosion which unlawfully damages the property of another.

6) Unauthorized entry (Burglary)
Remaining unlawfully in a building or occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime therein, unless the premises is open to the public or the actor is licensed to enter.

7) Harassment

  • Making a telephone call without disclosing identity with the purpose to annoy, abuse, threaten, or alarm
  • Insults, taunts, or challenges likely to incite violence
  • Making repeated communications or threats of assault, kidnapping, destruction of property, or cruelty to animals

8) Cruelty to animals
Acts detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of any animal, including the abandoning of any animal without proper provisions made for its care, sustenance, protection or shelter.

Who is considered a family or household member?

  • Spouses
  • Ex-spouses
  • Persons cohabiting with each other
  • Persons who cohabited with each other but who no longer share the same residence
  • Parents and other persons related by consanguinity or affinity, other than minor children who reside with the defendant.

Temporary Relief

If the court finds that there is a present and immediate danger of abuse, the court may enter temporary orders to protect the plaintiff with or without notice to the defendant.

Relief may include directing the defendant to relinquish to a peace officer any and all firearms and ammunition in the control of the defendant, or any other person on behalf of the defendant. Other temporary relief may include:

Protective orders:

  • Restraining the defendant from abusing the plaintiff.
  • Restraining the defendant from entering the premises where the plaintiff lives, except when the defendant is accompanied by a peace officer. Upon reasonable notice to the plaintiff, the defendant is allowed entry by the plaintiff for the sole purpose of retrieving toiletries, medication, clothing, business equipment, and any other items as determined by the court.
  • Restraining the defendant from withholding items of the plaintiff’s personal property which are specified in the order. A peace officer shall accompany the plaintiff in retrieving such property for protection of the plaintiff.
  • Awarding custody of minor children to either party or to the department when it is in the best interest of a child.


The defendant may be prohibited from purchasing, receiving, or possessing any deadly weapons for the duration of the order. The court may then issue a search warrant authorizing the peace officer to seize any deadly weapons specified in the protective order and any and all firearms and ammunition.

Violation of Protective Orders

When the defendant violates either a temporary or permanent protective order issued or enforced under this chapter, peace officers shall arrest the defendant and ensure that the defendant is detained until arraignment. However, in extreme circumstances, such as when the health of the defendant would be jeopardized by the temporary detention, a judge may order an alternative to detention pending arraignment. Such arrests may be made within 12 hours without a warrant upon probable cause, whether or not the violation is committed in the presence of a peace officer.

A defendant who intentionally violates a protective order is guilty of a Class “A” misdemeanor. This carries up to a year in jail. If the defendant has a prior conviction for violating a protective order and commits a new offense involving abuse within six years of the prior conviction (or within six years of the completion of the sentence for the prior conviction), the prior conviction will enhance the severity of the new offense.