At Eisenstadt, Krippenforf & Galvin, we handle a significant amount of restraining and harassment order hearings for both plaintiffs and defendants. If you have been the victim of physical, mental or emotional abuse or harassment, there are a number of options that are available to you in order to prevent the abuse from continuing. Conversely, if you have been falsely accused of such abuse, you too need to act quickly to avoid the harsh penalties that can come from having an order placed against you.What is a 209A Restraining Order?
A 209A restraining order is a civil order that is designed to protect victims of domestic abuse from incurring further abuse. Although it is a civil order, a violation of the order by the defendant may cause a criminal complaint to issue. It is referred to as a “209A” order because it comes from the Massachusetts General Laws chapter 209A. It is also sometimes referred to as an abuse prevention order or an abuse protective order.
In order to obtain a restraining order there are certain elements that must be met. First, the person that has abused the plaintiff must:
- be married or was married to the plaintiff;
- lives with the plaintiff;
- be a family member;
- be the parent of the plaintiff’s child; or
- have been in a serious dating relationship with the plaintiff.
Secondly, the plaintiff must also show that he or she is suffering from abuse because the abuser has:
- harmed or attempted to harm the plaintiff physically;
- put the plaintiff in fear of physical harm; or
- forced the plaintiff into having sexual relations.
The key for a restraining order to issue against a defendant is that the plaintiff must currently be in fear of imminent bodily harm.What are the Penalties for Violating a 209A Order (Restraining Order)?
A criminal complaint will issue if there is probable cause to believe that a violation of the restraining order has occurred. This can even include 3rd party contact if the contact has been found to have been done on your behalf. A violation of a restrining order carries a jail sentence of up to 2 ½ years, a fine of up to $5000 or both, if convicted.What is a 258E Harassment Prevention Order?
Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 258E was created in 2010 in order to protect victims of harassment from further harassment. Under this law, the presence of a domestic or family relationship is not required. A 258E order is not limited to specific types of relationships.
In order to obtain a 258E order / Harassment Order, there are certain requirements that must be met:
- There needs to have been 3 or more acts that were malicious (done on purpose for cruelty, hostility or revenge) and aimed at the plaintiff with the intent to cause the plaintiff fear, abuse, intimidation or damage to property and that does in fact cause fear, abuse, intimidation or damage to property; OR
- If the defendant forces or threatens the plaintiff into involuntary engaging in sexual relations; OR
- If the defendant has committed one of the following crimes against the plaintiff: indecent assault and battery, rape, assault to rape, enticement of a child, criminal stalking; criminal harassment or drugging someone for sexual intercourse.
A criminal complaint will issue if there is probable cause to believe that a violation of the 258E harassment order has occurred. This can even include 3rd party contact if the contact has been found to have been done on your behalf. A violation of a 209A order carries a jail sentence of up to 2 ½ years, a fine of up to $5000 or both, if convicted.How do I Obtain a Restraining Order or Harassment Order?
If you have been the victim of such abuse, you should immediately seek help. If it is between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., you can go into the corresponding court – local district court, Boston Municipal Court, Juvenile Court, Family Court or Superior Court (except dating relationships) – and obtain an emergency restraining order. A emergency order will usually issue for 10 days when you will have to come back for a hearing before a judge. This hearing affords both parties an opportunity to tell their side as to why a permanent order should or should not issue. If it is after court hours, you should go to your local police station and obtain the emergency order. When an emergency order is issued, the police will immediately go out and serve the defendant putting him or her on notice to stay away and have no contact with the plaintiff until the full hearing is conducted.Why do I Need an Attorney to Represent me in Seeking a Restraining Order or Harassment Order?
If you are seeking a restraining order, then you have no doubt already been going through an extremely stressful and traumatic experience. Having to face your abuser again and to testify at a full hearing can only add to that stress. An experienced restraining order attorney can help alleviate some of that tension and guide you through the hearing. At the hearing, the attorney will be afforded the opportunity to question the defendant as to his actions and present arguments to the judge as to why the order should be extended for a longer period of time (usually a year). Overall, an experienced attorney can help be of some comfort to you during this difficult time.Why do I Need an Attorney to Represent me if I am Falsely Accused of Abuse or Harassment?
Having a restraining order put on you can have a significant and dramatic impact upon you life. If you wish to contest the order, you should contact an attorney to aggressively represent you in order to avoid having the order issue. At the full hearing, you will be given the opportunity to defend yourself from having your liberty be unnecessarily restrained. The hearing is similar to a trial in that the attorney can ask questions of the plaintiff, present evidence and witnesses and argue to the judge as to why the order should not be extended. It is also crucial for you to obtain counsel because if the order issues and you are later accused of a violation of the order, you will be then faced with a criminal complaint. The criminal penalty for violating a restraining order can be anywhere from probation up to two and a half years in the house of corrections.The Attorneys at Eisenstadt, Krippendorf & Galvin can help
Whether you are seeking a 209A Restraining Order or 258E Harassment Order or you are defending against one, our lawyers at Eisenstadt, Krippendorf & Galvin have the skills and experience required to help you achieve the desired result. It is important to note on restraining order matters that time is of the essence. It is imperative that our lawyers are contacted immediately in order to have as much time as possible to conduct a quick but thorough investigation and fully prepare your case for a full hearing.