If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
If you have been subjected to abuse by a spouse or intimate partner, you may petition the court for protective orders to prevent further abuse, prevent harassment for you or your family, grant exclusive possession of your residence, provide for custody of children, and provide for financial support.
Petitions may be filed at the District or Superior Court without fee. Information on resources, access to support groups, and non-judgmental advice may be obtained through the New Hampshire Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence by calling 1-866-644-3574 24 hours a day.
A police officer may obtain an Emergency Order of Protection at any time. An Emergency Order of Protection is only good until the court closes on the next business day.
If the officer feels there is probable cause to believe that an assault or other criminal violation has occurred, the offender shall be arrested. An abusive person may be arrested for assault, stalking, threats, trespassing, vandalism, violating a protective order, or any other crime.
When the offender is arrested he/she may be held in jail or released on bail. A condition of bail will be to have no contact with you until the matter is resolved in court.
If you feel there is cause for your abuser to be arrested but the investigating officer feels there are insufficient grounds for arrest, you may speak to a supervising officer or consult an attorney.
Safety First. Always report incidents of domestic violence.
Pursuing a Court Order
If you wish to contact the court on your own you will need to fill out a form titled “Domestic Violence Petition.” This is the formal document that is given to the judge. It is important that you complete the form and fill in all the necessary information. If you need help with the form, you should ask someone at the court. It is important that you describe, in your own words, why you want this order and what kind of protection you need. It is best to be as detailed as you can be; describing what happened to you as completely as possible. You will be required to swear that this information is true and accurate. This information is what the judge reads before making a decision to write an order.
You must let the court know where you are living and how to get in touch with you. The court will not give the other person this information. You must complete a form titled “Domestic Violence Confidential Information.” Also, if you have any other cases in any other court in the state, you must let the court know right away.
If the court finds that there is evidence of abuse and a credible threat to your safety, a protective order, also commonly known as a restraining order, may be issued. If the court finds that the there is no evidence of abuse, the petition may be denied. If an order is denied or a request to withdraw an order is granted, you can always return to the court and ask for another order in the future if you feel you need protection.
New Hampshire Law
Under New Hampshire law, abuse has a very specific definition and legal meaning. “Abuse” is defined as committing or attempting to commit one or more of the following acts which represent a “credible threat” to your safety. New Hampshire laws can be found online:
- Assault or reckless conduct as defined under RSA 631:1 through RSA 631:3 (View NH RSA 631)
- Criminal threatening as defined under RSA 631:4 (View NH RSA 631)
- Sexual assault as defined under RSA 632-A:2 through RSA 632-A:5 (View NH RSA 632-A)
- Interference with freedom as defined under RSA 633 (View NH RSA 633)
- Stalking as defined under RSA 633:3-a (View NH RSA 633)
- Destruction of property as defined under RSA 634:1 and RSA 634:2 (View NH RSA 634)
- Unauthorized entry as defined under RSA 635:1 and RSA 635:2 (View NH RSA 635)
- Harassment as defined under RSA 644:4 (View NH RSA 644)
The Mason Police Department is concerned for your safety and the safety of your family, and is trained in handling situations involving domestic violence, stalking, and other personal issues.
Your safety and the safety of your children may depend on developing a safety plan for your protection. For more information on safety planning, contact New Hampshire Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
If there has been no violence in your home, but arguments and disturbances are becoming frequent, contact a local service for assistance.