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Four Things to Consider When You Are Charged with Domestic Violence

When you are criminally charged with domestic violence, many aspects of your life can change during the case. The New Hampshire Circuit Court's Domestic Violence Case Protocols details how these cases should be handled. From this manual, there are four things you should be aware of and take seriously.

Restraining Orders

The judge in your case may give any of the following temporary protective orders:

  • You cannot abuse the plaintiff.
  • You cannot enter the plaintiff's home, except to take items such as personal belongings and business equipment, and must come with a peace officer.
  • You cannot withhold the plaintiff's personal property; a peace officer will come with the plaintiff to get those items.
  • You cannot enter the plaintiff's workplace, school, or any other place where the plaintiff spends a lot of time.
  • You cannot take, convert or destroy any property of the plaintiff's, or any property that the plaintiff jointly owns with you.
  • If the court issues a "no contact" order, then you may not contact the plaintiff for any reason. If this order is violated, you could be criminally prosecuted.

Custody And Visitation Of Children

If you have minor children, custody may be awarded to the Division for Children, Youth, and Family (DCYF). This happens if the child's life has been found to be in immediate danger, or if there are no other relatives or friends available to take care of the child. Usually, custody of the child or children will be given to the plaintiff.

Visitation may be granted by the court, including supervised visitation and scheduled visitation. Visitation may also be denied, depending on the following factors:

  • Whether the court finds that visitation could cause physical or psychological harm 
  • Whether having supervised visitation could remove the risk of physical or psychological harm to the child
  • Whether the plaintiff and defendant have to be in contact for the visitation to occur

Firearms

Under both the federal Gun Control Act of 1968 and the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), it is illegal for someone who has been charged with domestic violence to have a firearm. During the protective order, you may be ordered to give up all firearms, ammunition and deadly weapons to a peace officer. This may also include any hunting licenses and concealed weapons permits. Additionally, you may not be allowed to purchase any new weapons, ammunition or deadly weapons.

Other Property Matters

The plaintiff may temporarily be the only person allowed to use the car. Who gets to temporarily use the house and its furniture will be determined by the court. You would not be allowed to turn off any utilities, or to break any business or service contracts such as a mortgage or a rental agreement.

If you have been charged with domestic violence, there can be a cascade of effects on your life beyond that caused by the criminal proceedings. To make sure your rights are protected throughout the court process, it's important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. 

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