PUBLIC SAFETY AND WELFARE
PROTECTION OF PERSONS FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
I. A finding of abuse shall mean the defendant represents a credible threat to the safety of the plaintiff. Upon a showing of abuse of the plaintiff by a preponderance of the evidence, the court shall grant such relief as is necessary to bring about a cessation of abuse. Such relief shall direct the defendant to relinquish to the peace officer any and all firearms and ammunition in the control, ownership, or possession of the defendant, or any other person on behalf of the defendant for the duration of the protective order. Other relief may include:
(a) Protective orders:
(1) Restraining the defendant from abusing the plaintiff.
(2) Restraining the defendant from entering the premises and curtilage where the plaintiff resides, except when the defendant is accompanied by a peace officer and is allowed entry by the plaintiff for the sole purpose of retrieving personal property specified by the court.
(3) Restraining the defendant from contacting the plaintiff or entering the plaintiff's place of employment, school, or any specified place frequented regularly by the plaintiff or by any family or household member.
(4) Restraining the defendant from abusing the plaintiff, plaintiff's relatives, regardless of their place of residence, or plaintiff's household members in any way.
(5) Restraining the defendant from taking, converting, or damaging property in which the plaintiff may have a legal or equitable interest.
(6) Directing the defendant to relinquish to the peace officer, in addition to the relief specified in RSA 173-B:5, I, any and all deadly weapons specified in the protective order that are in the control, ownership, or possession of the defendant, or any other person on behalf of the defendant.
(7) Granting the petitioner exclusive care, custody, or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by the petitioner, defendant, or a minor child in either household, and ordering the defendant to stay away from the animal and forbidding the defendant from taking, transferring, encumbering, concealing, committing an act of cruelty or neglect, or disposing of the animal.
(b) Other relief including, but not limited to:
(1) Granting the plaintiff the exclusive use and possession of the premises and curtilage of the plaintiff's place of residence, unless the defendant exclusively owns or leases and pays for the premises and the defendant has no legal duty to support the plaintiff or minor children on the premises.
(2) Restraining the defendant from withholding items of the plaintiff's personal property specified by the court. A peace officer shall accompany the plaintiff in retrieving such property to protect the plaintiff.
(3) Granting to the plaintiff the exclusive right of use and possession of the household furniture, furnishings, or a specific automobile, unless the defendant exclusively owns such personal property and the defendant has no legal duty to support the plaintiff or minor children.
(4) Ordering the defendant to make automobile, insurance, health care, utilities, rent, or mortgage payments.
(5) Awarding temporary custody of the parties' minor children to either party or, where appropriate, to the department, provided that:
(A) Where custody of the parties' minor children with the department may be appropriate, the department shall receive actual notice of the hearing 10 days prior to such hearing provided that, if necessary, such hearing may be continued 10 days to provide the department adequate notice.
(B) The department may move at any time to rescind its custody of the parties' minor children.
(6) Establishing visitation rights with regard to the parties' minor children. The court shall consider, and may impose on a custody award, conditions necessary to assure the safety of the plaintiff and minor children. This may include orders denying visitation, requiring supervised visitation that shall take place only at a visitation center that uses a metal detection device and has trained security personnel on-site, or requiring supervised visitation, where such order can be entered consistent with the following requirements. In determining whether visitation shall be granted, the court shall consider whether visitation can be exercised by the non-custodial parent without risk to the plaintiff's or children's safety. In making such determination, the court shall consider, in addition to any other relevant factors, the following:
(A) The degree to which visitation exposes the plaintiff or the children to physical or psychological harm.
(B) Whether the risk of physical or psychological harm can be removed by ordering supervised visitation or by ordering supervised visitation at a center that uses a metal detection device and has trained security personnel on-site.
(C) Whether visitation can be ordered without requiring the plaintiff and defendant to have contact regarding the exchange of children.
(7) Directing the defendant to pay financial support to the plaintiff or minor children, unless the defendant has no legal duty to support the plaintiff or minor children.
(8) Directing the abuser to engage in a batterer's intervention program or personal counseling. If available, such intervention and counseling program shall focus on alternatives to aggression. The court shall not direct the plaintiff to engage in joint counseling services with the defendant. Court-ordered and court-referred mediation of cases involving domestic violence shall be prohibited.
(9) Ordering the defendant to pay the plaintiff monetary compensation for losses suffered as a direct result of the abuse which may include, but not be limited to, loss of earnings or support, medical and dental expenses, damage to property, out-of-pocket losses for injuries sustained, and moving and shelter expenses.
(10) Ordering the defendant to pay reasonable attorney's fees.
II. The defendant shall be prohibited from purchasing, receiving, or possessing any deadly weapons and any and all firearms and ammunition for the duration of the order. The court may subsequently issue a search warrant authorizing a peace officer to seize any deadly weapons specified in the protective order and any and all firearms and ammunition, if there is probable cause to believe such firearms and ammunition and specified deadly weapons are kept on the premises or curtilage of the defendant.
III. Reconciliation after a previous order, prior to filing the current action, shall not be grounds for denying or terminating a new or existing protective order. Furthermore, the court shall not deny the plaintiff protective orders based solely on a lapse of time between an act of domestic violence and the filing of a petition, provided that the underlying act presents a credible threat to the plaintiff's current safety.
IV. No order made under this section shall supersede or affect any court order pertaining to the possession of a residence; household furniture; custody of children pursuant to RSA 169-B, 169-C, or 169-D; support or custody made under RSA 458; or custody of children of unwed parents as determined by a circuit court, or title to real or personal property.
V. (a) Mutual orders for relief shall not be granted. A foreign mutual order for relief shall only be granted full faith and credit in New Hampshire if it meets the requirements set out in RSA 173-B:13, VII.
(b) Cross orders for relief may be granted only if:
(1) The court has made specific findings that each party has committed abuse against the other; and
(2) The court cannot determine who is the primary physical aggressor.
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.
(b) If either party wishes the defendant to be excused from any provisions of an order of protection, the remedy is to petition the court for modification of such order.
(c) A defendant who is restrained from contacting the plaintiff or entering the premises of the plaintiff is prohibited from doing so even if invited by the plaintiff unless the restraining order has been modified by the court.
(d) This paragraph shall give unequivocal direction to peace officers that orders for protection are to be enforced as written and that no action by a party relieves them of the duty to enforce the order.
VIII-a. Upon issuing an order against a defendant, in which a defendant is restrained from having any contact with the plaintiff, the court shall advise the plaintiff that it would be unwise and possibly unsafe for the plaintiff to contact the defendant. If the plaintiff wishes to contact the defendant for any reason, the court shall advise the plaintiff that such contact be made only after petitioning the court for a modification of the order. In an emergency situation, the plaintiff or plaintiff's family may request that the local police department notify the defendant and the local police may accompany the defendant to a designated location, such as a hospital, if appropriate.
IX. (a) A copy of each protective order issued under this chapter shall be transmitted to the administrative office of the courts by facsimile or computer. An emergency protective order issued telephonically shall be transmitted by telephone or facsimile to the department of safety.
(b) The administrative office of the courts shall enter information regarding the protective orders into the state database which shall be made available to police and sheriff departments statewide. The department of safety shall make available information regarding emergency protective orders issued telephonically to police and sheriff departments statewide.
(c) The administrative office of the courts shall update the database upon expiration or termination of a protective order.
(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the administrative office of the courts or the department of safety, its employees and agents, and law enforcement officials shall not be held criminally or civilly liable for action taken under this chapter or RSA 458:16, provided they are acting in good faith and without gross negligence, and within the scope of their duties and authority.
IX-a. If a criminal records check conducted by the department of safety indicates that a potential buyer or transferee is prohibited from receipt or possession of a firearm pursuant to a protective order issued under this chapter, the department of safety shall notify the administrative office of the courts of the denial. The administrative office of the courts shall immediately notify the plaintiff that the defendant has attempted to purchase or obtain a firearm in violation of the protective order.
X. (a) Within 15 days prior to the expiration of the protective orders, the defendant may request, by motion to the court, the return of any and all firearms and ammunition and specified deadly weapons held by the law enforcement agency while the protective order was in effect. Upon receipt of such a motion, the court shall schedule a hearing no later than 15 days after the expiration of the order. The court shall provide written notice to the plaintiff who shall have the right to appear and be heard, and to the law enforcement agency which has control of the firearms, ammunition, and specified deadly weapons. The scope of the hearing shall be limited to:
(1) Establishing whether the defendant is subject to any state or federal law or court order that precludes the defendant from owning or possessing a firearm; and
(2) Under circumstances where the plaintiff has requested an extension of the protective order, whether the plaintiff has established by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant continues to represent a credible threat to the safety of the plaintiff.
(b) If the court finds that the defendant is not subject to any state or federal law or court order precluding the ownership or possession of firearms, or if the court denies the plaintiff's request to extend the protective order, the court shall issue a written order directing the law enforcement agency to return the requested firearms, ammunition, or deadly weapon to the defendant.
(c) Law enforcement agencies shall not release firearms and ammunition and specified deadly weapons without a court order granting such release. The law enforcement agency may charge the defendant a reasonable fee for the storage of any firearms and ammunition and specified deadly weapons taken pursuant to a protective order. The fee shall not exceed the actual cost incurred by the law enforcement agency for the storage of the firearms and ammunition and specified deadly weapons. The defendant may make alternative arrangements with a federally licensed firearms dealer for the storage of firearms, at the defendant's own expense, upon approval of the court. Such firearms shall be turned over to the appropriate law enforcement agency for transfer to the storage facility. Retrieval of such firearms shall be through the law enforcement agency responsible for their transfer to the storage facility pursuant to a court order as prescribed in this paragraph.
(d) No law enforcement agency shall be held liable for alleged damage or deterioration due to storage or transportation to any firearms and ammunition and specified deadly weapons held by a law enforcement agency, so long as due care is used.
Source. 1999, 240:3. 2000, 230:1. 2001, 189:2. 2004, 206:1. 2005, 284:1. 2006, 214:4. 2013, 62:5, eff. Jan. 1, 2014. 2014, 107:2, eff. June 11, 2014; 238:4, eff. July 21, 2014.