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Legal Information: New Hampshire

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of
August 10, 2023

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?

Even if you temporarily get back together with the abuser while you have your protective order, this does not make the order invalid.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?

Here are some things you may want to consider doing.  However, you will have to evaluate each one to see if it works for your situation.

  • 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 Planning. 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?

You can call the police if that is a safe option for you, even if you think it is a minor violation. It can be 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.1 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.

For more information about contempt, including the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt, go to our general Domestic Violence Restraining Orders page.

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:9

How do I withdraw or extend my protective order?

If you want to withdraw your order, you would file a request for withdrawal. Only a judge can withdraw or cancel an order.

If you want a final order to last longer, you may go back to court and ask a judge to extend your order by filing a request for an extension. 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 judge can extend your order if there is “good cause” to do so for one more year and from then on, each extension may be for up to five years. The abuser can file an objection to the extension of the order and then the judge would hold a hearing to decide whether or not to extend the order, which you will have to attend.1

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:5(VI)

What happens if I move?

If you move within New Hampshire, your order will still be valid and good.However, it may be 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 change it in any way.

If you provide your new address to the court, make sure to confirm that it will be kept in a confidential part of your file so 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 in another state.

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

If I get a protection order, will it show up in an internet search?

According to federal law, which applies to all states, territories, and tribal lands, the courts are not supposed to make available publicly on the internet any information that would be likely to reveal your identity or location. This applies to all of these documents:

  • the petition you file;
  • the protection order, restraining order, or injunction that was issued by the court; or
  • the registration of an order in a different state.1

1 18 USC § 2265(d)(3)