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Aggravated Domestic Violence Penalties in New Hampshire

A man holding a woman’s wrists during an argument.

Defendants may face serious legal consequences for alleged acts of aggravated domestic violence in New Hampshire. One of the first steps for these defendants should be to understand the range of domestic violence penalties that may be imposed for the specific charges filed against them, if these are proven. During a consultation, Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC can explain these penalties in greater detail while answering any questions defendants may have. Those accused of aggravated domestic violence can approach this situation effectively alongside experienced criminal defense attorneys in New Hampshire. Call (603) 707-4800 to schedule a personalized consultation to review your case and get started with a defense strategy.

The Definition of Aggravated Domestic Violence in New Hampshire

There is no mention of the phrase “aggravated domestic violence” in New Hampshire’s criminal code. However, various violent crimes may fall under the general category of domestic abuse or domestic violence as these terms are used in everyday English, including:

  • Simple assault
  • Second degree assault (strangulation)
  • Second degree assault
  • First degree assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Animal abuse
  • Child abuse

Domestic violence occurs when an individual commits assault against a member of their own household, a relative, or someone with whom they have had a romantic relationship. These individuals may include:

  • Spouses
  • Ex-spouses
  • People who are dating
  • People who have dated in the past
  • People who are biologically related
  • People who are related through marriage (such as in-laws)
  • People who share children
  • Intimate partners (anyone who has shared any type of romantic relationship)

Child Abuse and Violence Against Minors

Note that children are absent from this list, as New Hampshire typically prosecutes violence against minors under a different set of child abuse laws called the Child Protection Act. Those accused of child abuse can receive more information about potential penalties by contacting Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC.

Joshua’s Law

In “Assault and Related Offenses,” New Hampshire defines domestic violence under Section 631:2-b (also known as Joshua’s Law) and specifically mentions various offenses that fall under this category:

  • Threatening to use a deadly weapon to terrorize a family member
  • Forcing a family member to submit to sexual contact by threatening to use physical force or using physical force
  • Confining a family member unlawfully using threats or physical force
  • Violating a protective order by using force or the threat of force
  • Using force or the threat of force to block access to a phone or electronic communication device when they are attempting to call 9-11

Aggravated Domestic Violence vs. Domestic Violence

In New Hampshire, some assaults carry stiffer penalties than others. Aggravated domestic violence involves additional factors compared to normal domestic violence or “simple assault.”

Simple Assault

Simple assault is the least serious assault charge in New Hampshire, and it is a misdemeanor. Simple Assault may include acts such as:

  • Intentionally or recklessly causing bodily injury to a family member
  • Making physical contact with a family member without their consent
  • Causing a family member to become injured due to negligent use of a deadly weapon


Misdemeanor Violation

If two family members mutually agree to fight each other, it is considered “mutual combat.” If two adult brothers agree to engage in a fistfight to settle a dispute, New Hampshire considers this type of domestic violence a violation rather than a misdemeanor, which results in reduced penalties. 

Conversely, aggravating factors may increase penalties associated with simple assault. Defendants may face felony charges instead of misdemeanors if they use deadly weapons in an intentional manner rather than a negligent manner. They may also face felony charges for simple assaults if the alleged violence was directed toward a child. 

Second Degree Assault

Defendants may face second degree assault charges if certain factors exist:

  • They knowingly or recklessly caused a family member to suffer a serious bodily injury
  • They caused a family member to suffer a bodily injury due to the reckless use of a deadly weapon
  • They intentionally caused a bodily injury to a child under the age of 13

New Hampshire prosecutes second degree assaults as Class B felonies. 

First Degree Assault

First degree assault is a Class A felony in New Hampshire. The definition of assault in the first degree involves a number of distinct factors:

  • Purposefully or knowingly causing a family member to suffer a serious bodily injury
  • Purposefully or knowingly causing a family member to suffer a serious bodily injury by using a deadly weapon
  • Intentionally causing a child under the age of 13 to suffer a serious bodily injury
  • Causing a pregnant woman to suffer an injury that results in miscarriage


Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault occurs when the alleged incident involves certain aggravating factors. These may include: 

  • Serious risk of death
  • Serious disfigurement
  • Loss of bodily function or organ

Felony Domestic Violence

Under New Hampshire’s domestic violence laws, prosecutors may upgrade domestic violence from a class A misdemeanor to a class B felony if a deadly weapon was involved in the alleged offense. This may include either the use or the threatened use of a deadly weapon. Some may refer to this felony charge as “aggravated domestic violence.”

Domestic Violence Penalties and Consequences in New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, the prosecution adds the phrase “domestic violence” to the charging document if the person the defendant is alleged to have assaulted is a member of their family or household. This may result in a range of additional consequences and penalties compared to assaults committed between strangers, such as: 

  • Permanent loss of the right to bear arms
  • Longer waiting periods for annulments (10 years compared to the normal 2-3 years)
  • Potential restraining orders filed against the defendant
  • Potential mandatory minimum sentences
  • Additional fines

Domestic Violence Penalties by Charge Filed

As with any other category of alleged crime, the penalties imposed in a domestic violence case if the defendant is found guilty may vary depending on the circumstances of the case. In general, however, domestic violence may result in a range of penalties that are calibrated according to the crime classification under which charges are filed:

  • Class A Misdemeanor: A simple assault against a family member may result in a class A misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of 12 months in jail, a $2,000 fine, or both.
  • Class B Felony: A second degree assault may result in a Class B felony, which carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison, a $4,000 fine, or both. 
  • Class A Felony: A first degree assault or an aggravated assault against a family member in New Hampshire may result in a Class A felony, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison, a $4,000 fine, or both. Aggravated assault charges may involve an increased penalty of up to 20 years if the defendant used a deadly weapon. 


Contact New Hampshire Defense Attorneys Today

A consultation with a defense attorney in New Hampshire may be helpful in gaining an understanding of the specific domestic violence penalties the prosecution is likely to seek in an individual case. While it is true that these penalties are serious, an effective defense strategy can help to avoid a conviction or mitigate consequences. Call (603) 707-4800 and schedule an initial meeting with Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC today to get started. 


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About the Attorney
Jesse Friedman

Jesse has personally represented thousands of clients throughout the State - from juvenile delinquency offenses through homicides. He has extensive trial and litigation experience and has obtained favorable outcomes for thousands of clients throughout the years.

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