Orders of Protection and Restraining Orders
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
There are community organizations that provide free and confidential support services to anyone who has been impacted by domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking. Services are open and affirming to all, including for the friends and family of survivors. More information can be found at the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence.
Many types of court orders are called orders of protection or a restraining orders including:
- Domestic Violence Order of Protection
- Stalking Order of Protection
- Criminal Bail Order
- Civil Restraining Order
- Other Circuit Court Orders
Court staff cannot provide advice about what type of court order is best for your situation. However, there are several organizations that can provide legal advice, including legal aid organizations which provide reduced cost or free assistance.
This court order protects a person who has been abused by a family or household member or by a current or former sexual or intimate partner as defined in RSA 173-B. The person who wants protection (“the plaintiff”) files the case against the other party (“the defendant”).
This court order protects a person who has been stalked as defined by RSA 633:3-a.The person who wants protection (“the plaintiff”) files the case against the other party (“the defendant”). There does not need to be a special relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant. A person who has been stalked by a family member, household member, or current or former intimate partner might also qualify for a Domestic Violence Order of Protection.
What to Expect in a Domestic Violence or Stalking Order of Protection Case
What type of protections (“Relief”) can the judge order?
The person who wants protection (“the plaintiff”) can ask the judge for many types of protective orders (“relief”). A complete list can be found in RSA 173-B. Some examples of relief that the judge can order include ordering the defendant to:
- Stop abusing or stalking the plaintiff or their family or household members
- Stop contacting the plaintiff
- Stay away from the plaintiff and their home, place of employment, or school, etc.
- Give their firearms, guns, and/or deadly weapons to the police
- Give the plaintiff their property, including animals
- The judge may also be able to make temporary custody decisions
If you have questions about what types of orders the judge can issue in your case, seek legal advice.
Where to go to ask for a Domestic Violence or Stalking Order of Protection?
The person who wants protection (“the plaintiff”) can go to in person any Circuit Court location to start a case. Domestic Violence Order of Protection cases are heard in Family Division and Stalking Order of Protection cases are heard in District Division.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning May 26, 2020 and until further notice, the plaintiff may also be able to start the case electronically, without going to the courthouse, by contacting a Crisis Center or Family Justice Center.
What to expect when asking for or responding to a Petition for an Order of Protection?
When a person arrives at a courthouse to ask for an order of protection, court staff will provide them with the domestic violence or stalking petition forms. There is no fee to file. The judge will review the petition and make one of the following decisions:
- Grant a Temporary Order of Protection and schedule a final hearing
- Schedule a final hearing without granting a Temporary Order of Protection
- Deny the petition without scheduling a final hearing
If a final hearing is scheduled, the police will give the petition and any Temporary Order of Protection to the defendant in person.
To help you prepare to ask for or respond to an Order of Protection petition, review the following:
What to expect at the Order of Protection final hearing?
At the final hearing, the plaintiff and the defendant can each tell the judge their side and give evidence. After the judge listens to both sides and reviews the evidence, the judge will either:
- Grant a Final Order of Protection (for up to one year)
- Dismiss the case
- Wait to make a decision or “take the matter under advisement.” If the judge does this, any Temporary Order of Protection will remain in place until the judge makes a final decision.
Extending a Domestic Violence or Stalking Order of Protection beyond one year
Violations of a Domestic Violence or Stalking Order of Protection
If you have additional questions, you can call the Information Center at 1-855-212-1234.
After a person has been arrested (“the defendant”) for committing a crime against another person (“the victim”), a judge or bail commissioner may grant the defendant bail. If the defendant and victim have a certain type of family or intimate relationship, the bail order may be called a Domestic Violence/Stalking Criminal Order of Protection (“CBPO”). Unlike a Domestic Violence Order of Protection or a Stalking Order of Protection, the victim does not ask for the CBPO or bail order. Only the prosecutor or the defendant can ask the judge to change or drop a bail order or a CBPO. A bail order or a CBPO can require that the defendant stay away from the victim but it cannot create a parenting schedule or a custody determination. A bail order or a CBPO will automatically end when the criminal case is over.
A Civil Restraining Order is court order telling someone (“the defendant”) to stay away from or to stop an action that directly affects the person asking for the order (“the plaintiff”). There are no special relationships or specific criminal acts that are needed to ask for a Civil Restraining Order.
The plaintiff asks a Superior Court judge for a Civil Restraining Order by filing electronically unless extraordinary circumstances exist. There is a fee to file. If the plaintiff cannot pay the fee, they can file a Motion to Waive Filing Fee.
In most circumstances, the judge will not issue a Civil Restraining Order until after the plaintiff and defendant both have had a chance to tell their side. For a judge to issue an order without notice to the other side (known as ex parte, or emergency relief) circumstances must exist which pose a real risk that irreparable harm will result if the judge does not take immediate action without hearing from all sides to the dispute.
The Civil Restraining Order Checklist provides more information about how to file for and respond to a civil restraining order case.
- Juvenile Abuse Order of Protection Issued Pursuant to RSA 169-C:7-a
- Juvenile Abuse/Neglect Order of Protection Issued Pursuant to RSA 169-C:16, 19
- Marital Restraining Order Issued Pursuant to RSA 458
- Parenting Restraining Order Issued Pursuant to RSA 461-A
- Probate Division Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions