NH Law About... Joshua's Law

Introduction to... Joshua's Law

Updated April 10, 2017.

Joshua’s Law was signed into law in the summer of 2014 and went into effect on January 1, 2015. Joshua's Law establishes the crime of domestic violence which will allow police officers and prosecutors to identify patterns by abusers more easily while providing victims with access to support and protections as early as possible. The law was named for Joshua Sayvon, who was fatally shot by his father during a supervised visit at the Manchester YWCA in August 2013. 

The law’s main change is found in RSA 631:2-b, but it also alters portions of RSA 632-A and RSA 633.  Chapter 5 of Family Law by Charles Douglas (link below) provides a thorough discussion of domestic violence law in New Hampshire. Many public libraries throughout the state have this title; the law library's copy may be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan.  

Popular Names

The name “Joshua’s Law” is the “popular name” of the law. According to the Cornell Legal Information Institute, popular names may have different purposes:

Sometimes they say something about the substance of the law (as with the '2002 Winter Olympic Commemorative Coin Act'). Sometimes they are a way of recognizing or honoring the sponsor or creator of a particular law (as with the 'Taft-Hartley Act'). And sometimes they are meant to garner political support for a law by giving it a catchy name (as with the 'USA Patriot Act' or the 'Take Pride in America Act') or by invoking public outrage or sympathy (as with any number of laws named for victims of crimes). History books, newspapers, and other sources use the popular name to refer to these laws.  

We've talked about finding New Hampshire laws by popular name before in our post about Jessica's Law. Other states may have laws with the same name but on different topics. News articles will often use a law's popular name but won't include the citation to the law itself. And, popular names aren't always included in the text of the statutory code so a keyword search in the Revised Statutes Online will return no results. Fortunately, the print index to the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated includes a heading for Popular Names and under that heading is an entry for Joshua's Law. This doesn't always work but when it does, it's a great shortcut to finding the law.  

Please remember that this guide is for information purposes only and is not comprehensive. It is intended as a starting point for research, to illustrate the various sources of the law, and to provide guidance in their use. NH Law About ... is not a substitute for the services of an attorney. 

Read about... Joshua's Law


New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. What is Domestic Violence?  GO>

Link verified on: February 27, 2017

New Hampshire Bar Association. New Domestic Violence Laws Affect Civil and Criminal Practice. Bar News - June 18, 2014  GO>

Link verified on: February 24, 2017


Family law / by Charles G. Douglas. New Providence, N.J. : LexisNexis, 2014. 4th ed.   GO>

Link verified on: May 17, 2018

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Read the law about... Joshua's Law


RSA 173-B. Protection of Persons From Domestic Violence  GO>

Link verified on: February 27, 2017

RSA 631. Assault and Related Offenses  GO>

Link verified on: May 18, 2017

RSA 632-A. Sexual Assault and Related Offenses   GO>

Link verified on: February 27, 2017

RSA 633. Interference With Freedom  GO>

Link verified on: February 27, 2017

Find it in a Library ... New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated

Link verified on: June 29, 2018

Find the New Hampshire statutes in print at libraries throughout the state.   GO>

Learn About New Hampshire Statutes: New Hampshire statutes are the laws of the State of New Hampshire as enacted by the New Hampshire General Court. GO>


Circuit Court. Family Division. How to File a Domestic Violence Restraining Order   GO>

Link verified on: February 27, 2017

Domestic Violence Petitions

Link verified on: February 27, 2017

New Hampshire Domestic Violence Petitions are not available online, they must be obtained from the court. This link leads to the "Find Your Court" page of the New Hampshire Judicial Branch.   GO>


NCSL. Domestic Violence/Domestic Abuse Definitions and Relationships  GO>

Link verified on: February 24, 2017

New Hampshire Law Library

Link verified on: June 29, 2018

The state's only public law library. Call, email, or visit, we'll be happy to help.   GO>

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