No-Contact Orders in Domestic Violence Cases
No-contact orders between the defendant and victim are standard in all domestic violence cases. This is done out of a concern for a victim’s safety, and to protect the integrity of the investigation while the case is pending. If a defendant violates the no-contact provision of his/her bail, he/she may face additional charges.
- How long will the no-contact order remain in place?
Since the no-contact order is a condition of the defendant’s bail, it will remain in place while the case is pending. Once the case is resolved, typically by a plea or a trial, the bail conditions are no longer in effect and the no-contact order provision of bail is vacated.
- How else can a no-contact order be dropped?
The defendant and their attorney may submit a motion to the court to vacate the no-contact order at any point while the case is pending. If this is done, the court will schedule a hearing on the motion, and the Judge will decide whether or not the no-contact order will stay in place based upon the arguments of the defendant and the State.
- I am afraid of the defendant and do not think the no-contact order will stop him/her from finding me. What else can I do to stay safe?
If you feel you need additional protection from the defendant, you may want to consider visiting the local Family Court https://www.courts.nh.gov and filing for a restraining order. These orders typically stay in place for one year. Restraining orders in the Family Court are independent from pending criminal cases, and will remain in place even if the criminal case has closed. Our partner agency, HAVEN https://havennh.org/ , can also provide assistance and protection in ways our office and the police departments may not. Do not hesitate to contact their office at any time to speak with an advocate about concerns for your safety.
- I am not in fear for my safety and would like full contact with the defendant. What can I do to drop the no-contact order?
Though you may not feel a no-contact order is necessary, the order will remain in effect unless otherwise vacated by the Court. If you would like your thoughts on the no-contact order to be considered, please contact your Victim Assistance Coordinator. The Victim Assistance Coordinator assigned to your case will share your concerns with the Prosecutor. Your concerns will be accurately relayed to the Judge anytime the no-contact order is addressed in court. However, in criminal cases, the victim is not a party (unlike when you file for a restraining order in Family Court). The two parties to a criminal case are the State and the Defense.
- What if the defendant and I have children together and need contact for childcare and visitation?
You can contact the Strafford County Visitation Center (516-4673 or https://co.strafford.nh.us/images/UploadedFiles/DomesticViolence/center_brochure_with_logo_web.pdf) to ask about their services. They specialize in safe drop-off, arranged in such a way that the parents do not have contact with one another.
Sometimes exceptions to the no-contact order can be made to allow for third party contact between the victim and the defendant to arrange for childcare, visitation, and exchanges. If you share a child with the defendant, please contact your Victim Assistance Coordinator and provide the name of someone you would like to nominate as a third party contact, in the event this exception is made. This should be someone both you and the defendant are comfortable with and who can easily be reached. The third party contact will be responsible for coordinating child related issues. If you currently follow a parenting plan through the Family Court, you may share your visitation schedule with your Victim Assistance Coordinator, as the Judge will often honor a pre-existing Family Court order.
There are also some phone apps that exist for this purpose and track all communication related to child care between the parents.
- How does the no-contact order apply if the defendant is incarcerated?
The no-contact order is a condition of release and therefore does not apply when someone is incarcerated. If you have a Domestic Violence Protective Order (a civil order), that will continue to be enforced while a defendant is incarcerated.
Please be aware that all phone calls made through the House of Corrections are recorded, and the defendant can face additional charges such as witness tampering and criminal threatening depending on his/her conversations with you. If you do not want the defendant to contact you, please contact your Victim Assistance Coordinator or the House of Corrections and ask to have your phone number blocked. Once the defendant is released from the House of Corrections, the no-contact order is fully enforceable, and the defendant will be ordered to refrain from contacting you by mail, email, text message, telephone, or through a third party. If you have sought and been granted a restraining order through the family court, that does apply during any period of incarceration and would prevent contact from the defendant whether or not the defendant is being held at the jail.