New Hampshire Assault Laws

In New Hampshire, a person commits the crime of simple assault, a misdemeanor, by causing offensive contact with or injury to another.

Assaults that cause serious injury and assaults against children, as well as assaults committed against public officials due to their official actions, are felonies. For more information on these crimes, see New Hampshire Aggravated Assault Laws. For more information on assaults committed with a weapon, see Assault With a Deadly Weapon in New Hampshire.

Simple Assault

In New Hampshire, a person commits the crime of simple assault by purposely or knowingly causing bodily injury (such as bruising), or through offensive physical contact (such as kicking someone).

People act purposely when they intend to cause a particular result or engage in a particular course of conduct. People act knowingly when they are aware of the nature of their conduct or the surrounding circumstances.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 626:2, 631:2-a.)

For example, intentionally striking another person would be considered simple assault. Throwing an object, knowing that someone was in the object’s path and hitting the person, could also be considered assault.

Recklessly Causing Injury

In New Hampshire, a person can also commit the crime of simple assault by recklessly causing bodily injury to another.

People act recklessly when they are aware of and consciously disregard the risk their conduct poses to others. Reckless conduct is always a great departure from how a law-abiding person would act.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 626:2, 631:2-a.)

For example, throwing a small rock onto a busy street and hitting and cutting a bicyclist might be considered recklessly causing injury.

Recklessly Placing Another in Danger

A person commits the crime of recklessly placing another in danger in New Hampshire by acting in a way that places or could place another at risk of serious bodily injury.

Serious bodily injury causes severe and permanent or lasting impairment to any part of the body. Examples of serious bodily injury might include severe internal bleeding and facial scarring.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 625:11, 631:3.)

For example, driving a car in an erratic manner that puts a passenger or other drivers at risk of a serious accident might be considered recklessly placing another in danger.

Mutual Combat

Under New Hampshire’s laws, a simple assault that is committed during a fight entered into by mutual consent is punished less severely.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 631:2-a.)

Domestic Violence

Any assault against a family or household member in New Hampshire is considered domestic violence, also called domestic abuse. Family and household members include spouses, ex-spouses, people who live together or who have lived together, people who are dating or who have dated, and people related by blood or marriage (other than minor children). Crimes of domestic violence are not punished more severely in New Hampshire, but the victim may be able to obtain a restraining order against the defendant.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 631:2-b, 173-B:1.)

For more information, see Domestic Violence in New Hampshire.

Hate Crimes and Protected Victims

If the assault was substantially motivated because of hostility towards the victim's religion, race, creed, sexual orientation, national origin, or sex, the offender may be sentenced to additional prison time. If the victim of the assault is a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or licensed emergency medical care provider acting in the line of duty, there may be additional prison time. An assault that takes advantage of a victim’s age or disability, occurs in a school safety zone, or an assault against a child younger than 13 is also subject to an enhanced prison sentence.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 651:6, 193-D:1.)

For more information, see New Hampshire Aggravated Assault Laws.

Punishment

Simple assault and recklessly placing another in danger are misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.

Simple assault during mutual combat is a violation, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. The judge may also place conditions (short of formal probation) on a defendant who receives a violation.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 631:2-a, 631:3, 651:2.)

Getting Legal Advice and Counsel

A conviction for simple assault can result in time in jail, a fine, and a criminal record. If you are charged with a crime, a New Hampshire criminal defense attorney will be able to tell you how your case is likely to be treated in court and make the best arguments on your behalf. With an attorney’s assistance, you should be able to get the best possible outcome for your case, which may include having the charges reduced or dismissed, or obtaining a not guilty verdict or a lighter sentence than the maximum allowed by law.

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