If you are a victim and your abuser has a gun or you feel unsafe for other reasons, it is important to work with a victim advocate. The following organizations can help you find an advocate free of charge:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE;
- VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846;
- The New Hampshire 24-Hour Statewide Hotline at (866) 644-3574;
- Any of the local domestic violence programs listed here.
It is also helpful to have a lawyer assist you, particularly when you are seeking a protective order. You can find a lawyer using the New Hampshire Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from New Hampshire Legal Aid.
How to Get Protection
What kind of restraining orders are available in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire courts can issue three types of domestic violence restraining orders. In each of these orders, the court can help protect you from gun violence or threats of gun violence by an intimate partner:
- Domestic violence emergency orders1*
- Domestic violence temporary orders2*
- Domestic violence final orders3*
Courts issuing domestic violence emergency orders and domestic violence temporary orders can prohibit defendants* from purchasing or possessing* firearms and require them to hand over their firearms to law enforcement.4 All defendants subject to domestic violence final orders are prohibited by New Hampshire law from buying or possessing firearms and are required to hand their guns over to law enforcement.5
How can you get a restraining order?
Click here to see if you are eligible for a restraining order in New Hampshire.
You can find out more about how to get protection at WomensLaw.org.
You can find your local court here.
New Hampshire’s official guide to getting a restraining order can be found here. The court will have all of the court forms you need to fill out.
What do I do if I do not qualify for protection as a victim of domestic violence but I still need protection from someone?
If you do not qualify for protection as a victim of domestic violence but need protection from someone (including a stranger, an acquaintance, or another person not covered under a domestic violence protection order), you might qualify for some other type of order. Contact VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846 or a lawyer for more information. You can find a lawyer using the New Hampshire Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from New Hampshire Legal Aid.
How can the court help protect you?
In New Hampshire, defendants* subject to domestic violence final orders are prohibited from possessing* or purchasing guns for as long as the order lasts6 and are required to surrender their firearms to law enforcement.7 Courts can also prohibit defendants subject to domestic violence emergency orders and domestic violence temporary orders from purchasing or possessing firearms and require them to surrender their firearms to law enforcement.8
At the plaintiff’s* request, sometimes courts provide additional protections from gun violence,9 such as:
- Requiring the defendant to turn their firearms over to law enforcement immediately or setting a timeframe in which the transfer must happen;
- Ordering law enforcement to take the defendant’s firearms away if the defendant fails to turn them in as required by law or court order;10
- Requiring the defendant to appear before the court to personally present a receipt proving they got rid of their guns or directing law enforcement to follow up with the defendant;
- Scheduling a follow up compliance hearing* to ensure that the defendant has not accessed additional firearms since the order was issued;
- Ordering law enforcement to go to your home at scheduled times to check in on your safety;
- If the guns are shared marital property, the court can order the sale of the guns and divide the money between you;
- Ordering the defendant to stay away from you, your children, your family, and anyone else in immediate danger, based on the threats and/or actions of the defendant;
- Ordering the defendant not to hurt you or threaten to hurt you in the future;
- Anything else you need to be safe.
How will the court know what you need to protect you from the defendant’s firearms violence?
In your petition* and during any of the hearings* you participate in when you are seeking protection, you will have the opportunity to tell the court about the defendant’s* threats or acts of abuse, especially ones involving firearms. Every situation is different, and it is important to talk to a lawyer about your specific situation. You can find a lawyer using the New Hampshire Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free-and low-cost legal help is available from New Hampshire Legal Aid.
Your story will help the court decide what relief* to give you. Whether you are filling out court forms or speaking directly to the court, it is important to tell the court about the violence you experienced (working with your lawyer, if you have one), especially if the defendant used or threatened to use a firearm against you, a member of your family, any member of the community, or your pet. Among other things, this may include telling the court:
- About incidents of physical violence or threats of physical violence, including dates wherever you can;
- How the defendant used firearms to hurt or threaten you, your family, your pet(s), or anyone in the community;
- If you fear that the defendant may use firearms violence or threats of firearms violence in the future;
- If the defendant has threatened to harm him/her/themself. This may be a sign that the defendant intends to use a dangerous weapon like a firearm against you, themself, or other people;
- If you can, the type(s), number, and location of firearms the defendant has access.