New Hampshire Considering Reversal Of Domestic Violence Laws

Oh, New Hampshire. There you go, sitting around thinking, You know what we don’t have enough of? Wife beatings!

Clearly that’s the only explanation for a piece of legislation proposed by state Republicans. According to the Concord Monitor newspaper, House Bill 1581 sought to require police officers to obtain a warrant in a domestic violence case unless they witnessed the crime themselves.

So if Jane called 911 because Bob punched her in the face? (Or Bob called 911 because Jane punched him in the face?)  The cops could see the blood or bruises, but would have needed a warrant for arrest. 

As the Concord Monitor explains, the current law in New Hampshire states that arrest is not mandatory when there is an alleged domestic assault. Specifically, an officer “has the discretion to decide when an arrest is warranted with or without corroborating evidence.” This means that if an officer shows up to a house, he or she takes a look at the scene to assess the situation and makes a decision about whether the alleged assault took place. (In my home state of Connecticut, arrests are mandatory when there is claim of domestic assault. We can debate the merits of that method some other time.)  When making such a decision, police take into account things like the injury to the caller, the testimony of witnesses (like children or neighbors), and signs of evidence at the scene. Obviously, police do not need to see an assault take place for them to believe a crime has been committed.

But House Bill 1581 would require police to get a judge or justice of the peace to issue a warrant for the alleged perpetrator’s arrest. So even if a cop shows up, the victim is covered in bruises, the neighbors say they heard screaming, and there is a hole punched in the wall? As a retired police chief explained to the Concord Monitor, it is not too difficult to figure out what happens next: “The officer leaves, and the abuser renews his attack with even more ferocity, punishing his victim for having called for help.” 

Oh, but wait! There’s more!

Another bill would restrict a judge’s ability to order the perpetrator to turn over any weapons or purchase a gun. Because if there is someone who should be allowed to keep his or her guns, it is a person who is believed to be violent towards other people!

That’s not the only WTF-is-wrong-with-you-people piece of legislation New Hampshire state Republicans introduced. House Bill 1608 would have further restricted a judges’ ability to deal with domestic violence perpetrators. Fortunately, the  House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommended the House reject that dangerous legislation. But the former two bills are still being reviewed by the New Hampshire legislature.

I do not know where these bills originated. But if I had to bet $10 on it, I’d say it has so-called “men’s rights advocates” — who are overly concerned with how equal rights for women might hurt them — written all over it. 


[Concord Monitor via Think Progress]

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