New Hampshire HB 696 - Protective Orders

LEAP Forward Position:  Support

LEAP Forward Position: Support

This bill establishes a procedure for protective orders for vulnerable adults

173-D:4 Commencement of Proceedings; Hearing.

I. A vulnerable adult, guardian, or attorney-in-fact of a vulnerable adult, or if authorized by the vulnerable adult, the department, may seek relief pursuant to RSA 173-D:6 by filing a petition, in the county or district where the plaintiff or defendant resides, alleging abuse, exploitation or neglect by the defendant. Any person filing a petition containing false allegations of abuse shall be subject to criminal penalties. Notice of the pendency of the action and of the facts alleged against the defendant shall be given to the defendant, either personally or as provided in paragraph II. The plaintiff shall be permitted to supplement or amend the petition only if the defendant is provided an opportunity prior to the hearing to respond to the supplemental or amended petition. All petitions filed under this section shall include the home and work telephone numbers of the defendant, if known. Notice of the whereabouts of the plaintiff shall not be revealed except by order of the court for good cause shown. Any answer by the defendant shall be filed with the court and a copy shall be provided to the plaintiff by the court.

II. No filing fee or fee for service of process shall be charged for a petition or response under this section, and the plaintiff or defendant may proceed without legal counsel. Either a peace officer or the sheriff’s department shall serve process under this section. Any proceeding under this chapter shall not preclude any other available civil or criminal remedy.

III. The clerks of the circuit courts shall supply forms for petitions and for relief under this chapter designed to facilitate pro se proceedings. All such petitions shall contain the following words: I swear that the foregoing information is true and correct to the best of my knowledge. I understand that making a false statement on this petition will subject me to criminal penalties.

IV.(a) The court shall hold a hearing within 30 days of the filing of a petition under this section or within 10 days of service of process upon the defendant, whichever occurs later.

(b) The time frame established in this paragraph may be extended for an additional 10 days upon motion by either party for good cause shown. A recusal by the judge or any act of God or closing of the court that interferes with the originally scheduled hearing shall not be cause for the dismissal of the petition. The court shall reschedule any hearing under this section in an expeditious manner.

V. In any proceeding under this chapter, the court shall not be bound by the technical rules of evidence and may admit evidence which it considers relevant and material.

VI. In a proceeding under this chapter, a support person may accompany a party in court and, if the party is not represented by an attorney, may sit with the party at the table that is generally reserved for the party and the party’s attorney. The support person is present to provide moral and emotional support for a person who alleges he or she is a victim of abuse. The support person is not present as a legal adviser and may not provide legal advice. The support person may assist the person who alleges he or she is a victim of abuse in feeling more confident that he or she will not be injured or threatened by the other party during the proceedings if the person who alleges he or she is a victim of abuse and the other party are required to be present in close proximity. This section does not preclude the court from exercising its discretion to remove the support person from the courtroom if the court believes the support person is prompting, swaying, or influencing the party assisted by the support person.