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Legal Information: New Hampshire

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
February 10, 2020

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in New Hampshire have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

If I briefly get back together with the abuser, does this make the order invalid?

No. Even if you temporarily reconcile (get back together) with the abuser while you have your protective order, this does not revoke (cancel) the order.1 The law in New Hampshire is clear that the police are supposed to enforce a protective order as it is written and that no action by either party relieves the officer of the duty to enforce the order.2

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:5(VIII)(a)
2 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:5(VIII)(d)

What should I do when I leave the courtroom?

  • Review the order before you leave the courthouse.  If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk to correct the order before you leave.
  • Make several copies of the protective order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local police, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
  • Take steps to safety plan, including considering changing your locks and your phone number. Please call your local crisis center for help with safety planning toll free at 1-800-277-5570.

It is important to recognize that a protective order has limits. For a protective order to be as effective as possible, you must be vigilant in enforcing the order by reporting every violation to the police or the court.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order. Women can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when leaving or preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many batterers obey protective orders, but some do not, and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. Click on the following link for suggestions on Safety Tips.  Advocates at local resource centers can help you design a safety plan and can provide other forms of support. There is a list of organizations that may be able to help you on the NH Advocates and Shelters page under teh Places that Help tab on the top of this page.

I was not granted a protective order. What are my options?

If you are not granted an Protective Order, there are still some things you can do to stay safe. It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Safety Tips. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the NH Advocates and Shelters page under the Places that Help tab at the top of this page.

If you were not granted an Protective Order because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify as a family or household member, you may be able to seek protection through a Stalking Order. You will find more information about this process on our Stalking Protective Orders page.

You may also be able to reapply for an Protective Order if you have new evidence to show the court that domestic abuse did occur, or if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the Order.

If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to someone at a domestic violence organization or a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

Call the police, even if you think it is a minor violation. It is a crime and contempt of court if the abuser knowingly violates the order in any way. Contempt of court is when someone breaks a court order. A judge can punish someone for being in contempt of court.

If the police have good cause to believe that you have been assaulted within the past 12 hours by the abuser, they may immediately arrest the abuser.

If the abuser violates a protective order by committing criminal trespass, stalking or another criminal act, the police must arrest and prosecute him. In addition, you may take the abuser back to court on a charge of contempt.

It is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case.

If the police do not arrest your abuser, you may file a criminal complaint yourself or a petition for contempt. You can call your local police department or district court to obtain a complaint or petition for contempt form.

Because most people are released from custody soon after their arrest, do not expect the abuser to be confined to jail until the trial. You may request as a bail condition that the abuser stay away from you. 1

1 173-B:9 Violation of Protective Order; Penalty

How do I change, extend, or cancel my protective order?

Once an order is granted, only a judge can “dissolve”, or get rid of, it. If you want a final order to last longer, you may go back to court and ask a judge to extend your order. You should go in before your first order expires, or you may have to start all over.

After the expiration of the first order, the court may extend your order for one more year and from then on each extension may be for up to 5 years.

The court will usually extend your order when you apply, and then notify the abuser. The abuser may request a hearing to dispute the extension, which you will have to attend.

If you decide to let the abuser move back into your house after the court has ordered him to stay away, you must have the court take that part of the order away or the abuser may face arrest. 1

1 173-B:5 Relief

VI. Any order under this section shall be for a fixed period of time not to exceed one year, but may be extended by order of the court upon a motion by the plaintiff, showing good cause, with notice to the defendant, for one year after the expiration of the first order and thereafter each extension may be for up to 5 years, upon the request of the plaintiff and at the discretion of the court. The court shall review the order, and each renewal thereof and shall grant such relief as may be necessary to provide for the safety and well-being of the plaintiff. A defendant shall have the right to a hearing on the extension of any order under this paragraph to be held within 30 days of the extension. The court shall state in writing, at the respondent’s request, its reason or reasons for granting the extension. The court shall retain jurisdiction to enforce and collect the financial support obligation which accrued prior to the expiration of the protective order.

VII. Both parties shall be issued written copies of any orders issued by the court, and all orders shall bear the following language: “A willful violation of this order is a crime, as well as contempt of court. Violations of the protective provisions shall result in arrest and may result in imprisonment.” Orders shall clearly state how any party can request a further hearing and how the plaintiff may bring a criminal complaint or a petition for contempt if there is a violation of any court order.

VIII. (a) No order issued under this chapter shall be modified other than by the court. Temporary reconciliations shall not revoke an order.

What happens if I move?

If you move within New Hampshire, your Order will still be valid and good.1

However, It is a good idea to call the Clerk to change your address if you won’t be getting mail at your old address. That’s because the court will communicate with you only by mail if anything happens to your protective order - for example, if your abuser asks the court to dismiss the order or if your order is changed in any way.

If you provide your new address to the Court, it will be kept in a confidential part of your file, and the public will not have access to it. However, your new address could possibly be released to court or law enforcement officials. If you feel unsafe giving your new address, you may be able to use the address of a friend you trust or a P.O. Box instead.

Additionally, the federal law provides what is called “Full Faith and Credit,” which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands. Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders. You can find out about your state’s policies by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of courts, or the prosecutor in your area.

If you are moving out of state, you should call the battered women’s program in the state where you are going to find out how that state treats out-of-state orders.

If you are moving to a new state, you may also call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) for information on enforcing your order there.

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 NH Rev. Stat. § 173-B:13