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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Domestic Violence receives a lot attention in the news, and many misunderstand how domestic violence is handled as a legal matter in the courts. While it is probably accurate to say that before 1980, domestic violence was overlooked as a societal problem, and that by the mid-1990's domestic violence was so hyped that it seemed almost anyone claiming to be afraid could get a domestic violence order.

Times are different now, and a more balanced view of what domestic violence is and is not has taken hold. New Hampshire's domestic violence statute now requires by the very definition of abuse that a criminal act have been committed or attempted and that the complaining person have a credible fear for his or her safety. Though courts still tend to err on the side of the complaining party seeking an immediate order in the very short term, the courts are very insistent on demanding proof of an actual or intended crime by the defendant and credible fear caused by it.

"Domestic Violence is serious business. Don't mess around with it. "

A defendant removed from the home or restrained on a short term basis is given a right to a hearing within 5 business days of a written request or within 30 days at the latest even without a request. That hearing is the time when all the evidence from both sides needs to be presented because a final order will issue from it with very significant consequences. Do not assume that because a temporary order of protection was granted that the court will uphold that at a contested hearing.

If a domestic violence order is issued, it must be followed. Domestic violence orders have an enormous impact on parenting rights and responsbilities, in many cases eliminating the presumption that joint parenting rights are in the best interests of the children involved. Violating a domestic violence restraining order is a misdemeanor (crime) punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine, and more for a second offense. Firearms usually are seized if a domestic violence order is obtained. Domestic violence orders preclude obtaining firearms in the future and regaining seized firearms requires a further court order. A founded domestic violence petition may impair certain job applications and career paths, such as law enforcement, child care, or teaching.

If you have been served with a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, OBEY IT and contact us at once. Do not assume that you can speak to the complainant, even if the complainant calls you. Do not assume you have a right to ask someone else to contact the complainant for you, because doing so is just as much a violation of the order as doing so yourself.

If you are the victim of domestic violence, do not wait to seek protection. Research shows that violence in relationships often gets worse and more dangerous the longer it goes on, and can spread to children learning abusive patterns watching their parents -- learning how to abuse or how to tolerate abuse -- if nothing is done. If you need a restraining order for your safety, call the police and go to court. Our office can assist you right away if you contact us, or we can enter the case if your contested hearing is upcoming.

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