What is the legal definition of stalking in New Hampshire?
A person commits the offense of stalking if s/he does any of the following:
- purposely or recklessly engages in a “course of conduct” (defined below) that targets you or any specific person, which causes you to fear for your safety or the safety of a member of your immediate family and which would reasonably cause anyone to fear for his/her safety or family’s safety;
- purposely engages in a “course of conduct” (defined below) that targets you or any specific person, which s/he knows will place you in fear for your safety or the safety of your immediate family; or
- after being served with a protective order that prohibits contact with you or any specific person, s/he purposely or recklessly engages in a single act of conduct that both violates the provisions of the protective order and that is listed below in the definition of “course of conduct.”
A “course of conduct” means two or more of the following acts, or similar acts, that are committed by the offender over any period of time and that have no legitimate purpose other than to contact you. The offender could commit the same type of act twice or a combination of the following acts:
- threatening your safety or the safety of an immediate family member;
- following, approaching, or confronting you or a member of your immediate family;
- coming close to you or your immediate family member, or entering the home, work, school of you or your immediate family member or entering another place where you or your immediate family member can be found;
- causing damage to the residence or property of you or your immediate family member;
- placing an object on the property, either directly or through a third person, of you or your immediate family member;
- causing injury to the pet owned by you or your immediate family member;2
- any act of communication, including through email, text, phone, mail, etc.3
Note: Any of the following people can be considered an immediate family member: parent, step-parent, child, step-child, sibling, spouse, grandparent, any person living in your home, or any person involved in an intimate relationship with you.4
1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 633:3-a (I)
2 N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 633:3-a(II)(a)
3 N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 633:3-a(II)(a); 644:4(II)
4 N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 633:3-a(II)(b)
Who can file for a stalking protective order?
Anyone who has been a victim of stalking can file a petition for a stalking protective order.1 Unlike with a domestic violence protective order, a stalking victim is not required to prove a prior relationship existed in order to petition for a stalking protective order. However, if the victim of stalking and the stalker are members of the same family or household, or are intimate partners, victims are encouraged to file for a domestic violence protective order instead.2
1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 633:3-a(III-a)
2 See Governor’s Commission On Domestic and Sexual Violence and Office of The Attorney General Stalking Protocol: A Model for Law Enforcement 2009 (page 26)
Can I file for a stalking protective order if I am a minor? What if the stalker is a minor?
You can file for an order if you are a minor. A petition can also be filed against a minor, regardless of whether the petitioner is an adult or a minor.1
1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 633:3-a(III-b)
What protections can I get in a stalking protective order?
The types of protections that the judge can grant to you are the same as those given in a domestic violence protective order,1 which you can read about on our What protections can I get in a protective? page.
1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 633:3-a(III-a)
If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?
When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.
There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:
- The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
- One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
- If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.
However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.
You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.
Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.