New Hampshire

New Hampshire Law

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FIREARM PROHIBITIONS

New Hampshire Domestic Violence Firearm Purchase and Possession Prohibitions

New Hampshire does not prohibit persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition.

New Hampshire prohibits a defendant* subject to a final domestic violence protective order “from purchasing, receiving, or possessing any deadly weapons and any and all firearms and ammunition for the duration of the order.”1

A court issuing a temporary domestic violence protective order (including an order issued by telephone or facsimile)  may prohibit the defendant “from purchasing, receiving, or possessing any deadly weapons and any and all firearms and ammunition for the duration of the order.” 2

NEW HAMPSHIRE CIVIL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROTECTIVE ORDER FIREARM REMOVAL

Domestic Violence Civil Protective Orders that Require Removal

A judge issuing a final domestic violence protective order shall require removal of any and all firearms and ammunition in the defendant’s control, ownership, or possession and may require such removal when issuing a temporary domestic violence protective order (including an order issued by telephone or facsimile). 3

Individuals Who May Petition for a Domestic Violence Protective Order

Persons who have been abused may petition for a domestic violence protective order. 4

“Abuse”* is defined as “the commission or attempted commission of one or more of the acts [listed below] … by a family or household member or by a current or former sexual or intimate partner, where such conduct is determined to constitute a credible present threat to the petitioner’s safety. The court may consider evidence of such acts regardless of their proximity in time to the filing of the petition, which, in combination with recent conduct, reflects an ongoing pattern of behavior which reasonably causes or has caused the petitioner to fear for [their] safety or well-being:”

  1. Assault or reckless conduct;
  2. Criminal threatening;
  3. Sexual assault;
  4. Interference with freedom;
  5. Destruction of property;
  6. Unauthorized entry;
  7. Harassment;
  8. Cruelty to animals. 5

“Family or household member” is defined as:

  1. Spouses;
  2. Former spouses;
  3. Persons cohabiting with each other;
  4. Persons who formerly cohabited with each other;
  5. Parents; and
  6. Other persons related by consanguinity or affinity (other than minor children who reside with the defendant). 6

“Intimate partners” is defined as “persons currently or formerly involved in a romantic relationship, whether or not such relationship was ever sexually consummated.” 7

Removal Process

A judge issuing a final domestic violence protective order shall direct the defendant (or any other person on behalf of the defendant) to relinquish any and all firearms and ammunition in the defendant’s control, ownership, or possession to a peace officer for the duration of the order. 8 If there is probable cause to believe that firearms, ammunition, or deadly weapons are kept on the premises of a defendant subject to a final domestic violence protective order, the court may issue a search warrant authorizing a peace officer to seize any deadly weapons specified in the order and any and all firearms and ammunition. 9

A judge issuing a temporary domestic violence protective order may direct the defendant (or any other person on behalf of the defendant) to relinquish any and all firearms and ammunition in the defendant’s control, ownership, or possession to a peace officer for the duration of the order. 10 If there is probable cause to believe that firearms, ammunition, or specified deadly weapons are kept on the premises or curtilage of a defendant subject to a temporary domestic violence protective order and the court has reason to believe that all such firearms, ammunition, and specified deadly weapons have not been relinquished by the defendant, the court may issue a search warrant authorizing a peace officer to seize any deadly weapons specified in the order and any and all firearms and ammunition. 11

Firearm Storage

A law enforcement agency storing firearms, ammunition, and specified deadly weapons relinquished or removed pursuant to a protective order may charge the defendant a reasonable storage fee not to exceed the actual cost incurred by the law enforcement agency for storage. 12

As long as due care is used, no law enforcement agency shall be held liable for alleged damage or deterioration to any firearms, ammunition, and specified deadly weapons due to storage or transportation. 13

Return of Firearms to Respondent

A law enforcement agency storing firearms, ammunition, and specified deadly weapons relinquished or removed pursuant to a protective order shall not release such firearms, ammunition, and specified deadly weapons without a court order granting such release. 14

Within 15 days* before the expiration of a protective order, or any time thereafter, the defendant may make a motion to the court to request 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. 15 Upon receipt of such a motion, no later than 15 days after the expiration of the order*, the court shall schedule a hearing of which 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 is holding the firearms, ammunition, and specified deadly weapons. 16 If a defendant files the request immediately prior to or at any time following the expiration of the order, the court should schedule a hearing within 15 days of receipt of the request, if possible, but no later than 30 days after the request 17. At the hearing the court shall determine:

  1. 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. If 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. 18

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 the court denies the plaintiff’s request to extend the protective order, the court shall issue an order directing the law enforcement agency to return the firearms, ammunition, or deadly weapon to the defendant. 19

Penalties for Violation

When a defendant violates a temporary or final domestic violence protective order, peace officers shall arrest the defendant and ensure that he or she is detained until arraignment. 20 Arrests may be made within 12 hours of a violation without a warrant upon probable cause. 21 After an arrest, the peace officer shall seize any firearms and ammunition in the control, ownership, or possession of the defendant and any deadly weapons which may have been used, or were threatened to be used, during the violation of the order.22 The law enforcement agency shall hold such firearms and ammunition or deadly weapons until the court issues an order directing that the firearms, ammunition, or deadly weapons be relinquished and specifying the person to whom the firearms and ammunition or deadly weapons will be relinquished. 23

A person who violates a protective order may be prosecuted for criminal contempt. 24

A person who knowingly violates a protective order shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,000. 25

This page was updated May 4, 2020. Please note that data used are the most recent available data.