If I don’t have a hard copy of my out-of-state order, how can law enforcement enforce it?
To enforce an out-of-state order, law enforcement typically may rely on the National Crime Information Center Protection Order File (NCIC-POF). The NCIC-POF is a nationwide, electronic database that contains information about orders of protection that were issued in each state and territory in the U.S. The Protection Order File (POF) contains court orders that are issued to prevent acts of domestic violence, or to prevent someone from stalking, intimidating, or harassing another person. It contains orders issued by both civil and criminal state courts. The types of protection orders issued and the information contained in them vary from state to state.1
There is no way for the general public to access the NCIC-POF. That means you cannot confirm a protection order is in the registry or add a protection order to the registry without the help of a government agency that has access to it.
Typically, the state police or criminal justice agency in the state has the responsibility of reporting protection orders to NCIC. However, in some cases, the courts have taken on that role and they manage the protection order reporting process.2 NCIC–POF is used by law enforcement agencies when they need to verify and enforce an out-of-state protection order. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.
However, not all states routinely enter protection orders into the NCIC. Instead, some states may enter the orders only in their own state protection order registry, which would not be accessible to law enforcement in other states. According to a 2016 report by the National Center for State Courts, more than 700,000 protection orders that were registered in state protection order databases were not registered in the federal NCIC Protection Order File.2 This means that if a law enforcement officer is trying to enforce a protection order from another state that is missing from the NCIC, the victim would likely need to show the officer a hard copy of the order to get it immediately enforced. If you no longer have a copy of your original order, you may want to contact the court that issued the order to ask them how you can get another copy sent to you.
1 National Center for Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit
2 See State Progress in Record Reporting for Firearm-Related Background Checks: Protection Order Submissions, prepared by the National Center for State Courts, April 2016
How do I register my protective order in New Hampshire?
You can register your out-of-state protective order by bringing a certified copy of your order to the clerk of court at any district or superior court in New Hampshire.1 (To find courthouse locations, please see our NH Courthouse Locations page). If you do not have a certified copy of your protective order, bring the telephone number of the court that gave you your protective order. The New Hampshire court can call that court & ask them to fax over a certified copy for you.2 You’ll find listings of courthouses throughout the US on this site – select your state from the drop-down menu on the top left of this page, then click on the link marked “Courthouse Locations and Info”.
Once the clerk gets a copy of your order, s/he will ask you to sign a Foreign Protection Order Affidavit. That is a piece of paper that you sign under oath that says, to the best of your knowledge, the copy of the order you have is right and your order hasn’t been changed or canceled.1 Don’t sign this affidavit until the clerk tells you to. You may need to sign it in front of a notary.
Once the clerk receives all of this information, s/he will forward it to the Administrative Office of the Courts, who will enter your protective order into the New Hampshire State Protective Order Registry. The clerk should give you back the certified copy of your protective order, as well as a copy of the Foreign Protection Order Affidavit.2 You should not be asked to pay a fee or cost for filing an out of state order, according to NH state law.
If you need help registering your protective order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in New Hampshire for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area here on our NH Advocates and Shelters page under the Where to Find Tab on the top of this page.
1 N.H. Rev. Stat § 173-B:13
2Chapter 15 of the New Hampshire Judiciary Domestic Violence Protocol
What does it mean to register my protective order?
When you register your protective order in New Hampshire, you provide a court with a copy of your order and with information that helps them to verify your order is real. Then the Court forwards information about your protective order along to the New Hampshire State Protective Order Registry.
The New Hampshire State Protective Order Registry has a list of all protective orders that have been issued by the NH courts and registered out-of-state protective orders. The NH Sheriff, police departments, and all law enforcement officials have access to the information in this registry.
If your abuser violates your protective order and you call the police for help, the police may look at the Protective Order Registry. Seeing that your order is in the registry can help the police verify that your protective order is real so they can enforce it quickly.
Do I have to register my protective order in New Hampshire in order to get it enforced?
No. New Hampshire state law gives full protection to out-of-state protection orders whether or not they’re registered. It does not have to be registered in order to be enforced by a New Hampshire police officer, as long as it seems to the officer that your order is real.1
While you do not have to register your out-of-state protection order in order to get it enforced, one benefit of registration is that you may be able to get your order enforced, even if you are not carrying a copy of the order with you when you call to report a violation of the order. Out-of-state protective orders that are registered in New Hampshire are kept in the New Hampshire State Protective Order Registry, and New Hampshire police officers should have access to this registry when they come on the scene.
1 N.H. Rev. Stat Sec 173-B:13
Will the abuser be notified if I register my protective order?
Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.1 However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.
However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to. It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living. We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Safety Tips page. You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our NH Advocates and Shelters page.
1 18 USC § 2265(d)
Does it cost anything to register my protective order?
No. There are no fees or costs for registering your out-of-state protective order in New Hampshire.1
1 N.H. Rev. Stat § 173-B:13
What if I don’t register my protective order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?
While neither federal nor New Hampshire law requires that you register or certify your out-of-state protective order in order to get it enforced, if your order is not entered into the New Hampshire state registry, it may be more difficult for a New Hampshire law enforcement official to determine whether your order is real, which means it could take longer to get your order enforced. In New Hampshire, however, law enforcement officials are required to enforce any order that seems real and true, whether or not it’s registered.1
If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area. An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in New Hampshire. To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in NH, go to our NH Advocates and Shelters page.
1 N.H. Rev. Stat § 173-B:13