Restraining Order & Harassment Prevention Order

Restraining Order The Boston restraining order lawyers at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. understand the ramifications of restraining orders or harassment prevention orders placed against you. Our criminal defense attorneys know the rights and responsibilities both the recipient and the alleged abuser face and also realize that not all restraining orders are initiated for valid reasons. Unfortunately, some restraining orders are motivated by unrelated domestic disputes and personal issues. We have decades of experience defending the rights of those with illegitimate restraining orders placed against them.

How to Apply for a Restraining Order or Harassment Order During COVID-19

There is no doubt in the fact that there has been a major increase in the number of harassment order and restraining order cases during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Have you wondered why this is the case? Since everyone is at home due to the ongoing pandemic, there has been a rise in domestic abuse cases as well. Thats why it's important to read through this page and contact an experienced Boston restraining order attorney or our experienced harassment order lawyers ma to protect your rights.

In normal times, the process to apply for a restraining order or harassment order against someone in Massachusetts was easier, however ever since the COVID-19 outbreak has taken place, the entire world has been quarantining and social distancing. The majority of courts are operating at limited capacity and are short staffed. People are working from home and colleges are closed as well. In addition to this, courts are also dealing with emergency cases only. During such times, how will anyone who is being subjected to abuse or harassment apply for a restraining order or harassment order in Massachusetts? If you or someone that you know is a victim of abuse or harassment, and want to apply for a restraining order or harassment prevention order during COVID-19, then you have come to the correct place. In this page, we will be discussing exactly how you can apply for these orders in Massachusetts to protect yourself from any further harm or harassment.

Yes, courts are only open for emergency cases, but it must be noted that both section 209A restraining order and section 258E harassment prevention order fall within this category of emergency cases in Massachusetts. The state of Massachusetts has made it incredibly easy for the victims of abuse and harassment to apply for a restraining order or harassment prevention order from their homes easily. They have provided various links online that you can use to apply for a restraining order or harassment prevention order during COVID-19.

If you want to apply for a 209A restraining order in Massachusetts, you must fill out a form at a local court or police station. Make sure to get in contact with one of our Boston restraining order attorneys to assist you in the process for the best possible outcome. Due to the COVID-19 situation, nowadays courts are hearing these cases over the telephone. Some courts are also opting for video conferencing (Zoom) to hear these cases.

The criminal defense lawyers at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. have helped countless clients file and defend restraining orders and harassment prevent orders in courts throughout Massachusetts. We have offices in Boston, Cambridge, and Quincy. Call us today for a free consultation at 617-225-2100. You can also use our secure contact form.

Time is of the Essence

Once a restraining order issues, even though it is a civil matter, your CORI (criminal) record will show its existence. As discussed in our "sealing CORI records" page, your criminal record is accessible by anyone, including potential employers, college officials, landlords, and loan officers. Further, once a valid restraining order is issued, the recipient will have tremendous power over you, including the ability to report a violation (including merely seeing or speaking with you), which subjects you to immediate arrest and criminal prosecution. Don't face the legal system alone. Choosing to represent yourself in filing or defending against a restraining order is very risky and can place you at a distinct disadvantage. The criminal defense lawyers at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. have handled hundreds of restraining orders over the years and will ensure your rights are protected.

Obtaining a Restraining Order

Most restraining orders in Massachusetts are governed by M.G.L. c. 209A. Pursuant to this law, a "family or household member" can report to the appropriate district court to obtain a restraining order to protect him/her against the actions of an alleged abuser. Examples of such actions are if the alleged abuser has caused or attempted to cause fear of imminent serious physical harm. This can stem from instances involving domestic violence or sexual assault. If the alleged victim is neither a family member nor household member, the alleged victim must apply to the Superior Court for injunctive orders. As seen at the bottom of this article, non-family members have the ability to obtain "harassment prevention orders" pursuant to Ch. 258E, discussed in more detail below.

Effect of a 209A Restraining Order

A restraining order is a civil proceeding, signed by a judge, which grants protection for the recipient against an alleged abuser. A restraining order proceeding is still a civil matter, between the alleged victim and abuser, regardless of any other criminal prosecutions against the alleged abuser. However, violating a legitimate restraining order is considered a criminal offense. Restraining orders are issued to prevent a plethora of actions, which may or may not include: annoying, harassing, following, having contact with, calling, writing, or coming within a certain number of feet of a person's work, school, or home. Restraining orders can even affect child custody, living arrangements, child support, and ownership of weapons.

Violating a Valid Restraining Order is a Criminal Offense

After a restraining order is filed, issued, and served on the alleged abuser (defendant), the terms of the order must not be violated, regardless of whether the restraining order is temporary or permanent. Otherwise, criminal prosecution may result, subjecting the defendant to arrest, incarceration, and other criminal penalties. A restraining order violation can result in jail time of up to 2 1/2 years and a $5,000 fine.

Ex Parte Temporary Restraining Order Hearings

Most applicants for restraining orders appear in court alone, or "ex-parte," to testify before a judge as to why a restraining order should be issued. It is important to note that the defendant does not need to be put on notice of this hearing. The plaintiff will file an affidavit at the hearing outlining the reasons for the restraining order request. The court will then decide if the plaintiff has shown, by a "preponderance of the evidence" (at least 51% likely), that a substantial likelihood of imminent danger of abuse exists. If so, a temporary restraining order will be issued.

The defendant, even if aware of the temporary restraining order hearing, cannot challenge the plaintiff at this time. At the hearing for a permanent restraining order, usually 10 days after the issuance of a temporary order (when the defendant is served with a copy of the temporary order), the defendant can finally respond to the allegations.

Hearing for a Permanent Restraining Order

After notice is given to the defendant of the temporary order, a permanent order hearing is held to determine if the restraining order will be extended for one year. This hearing is where the defendant can respond to the allegations in front of the court. The defendant can offer testimony, cross-examine the plaintiff, and/or call supporting witnesses. If the plaintiff does not appear, the temporary order will expire that day. At this hearing, it is very helpful to have an experienced and savvy attorney from Bellotti Law Group, P.C. speak on your behalf and examine the plaintiff's affidavit. Our defense lawyers can also cross-examine the plaintiff to learn of facts that may prove imperative at a later trial or another criminal matter against you.

Appeals of 209A Restraining Orders

Once a restraining order issues against you, there is only one avenue of appeal, which is petitioning the a single justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) for relief under M.G.L. c. 211, section 3.

Harassment Preventions Orders Under Chapter 258E are Not the Same as Restraining Orders Under Chapter 209A

Massachusetts General Law Chapter 258E offers protection against "harassment," regardless of any family relationship. Harassment is defined as:

"(i) 3 or more acts of willful and malicious conduct aimed at a specific person committed with the intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property and that does in fact cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property; or (ii) an act that: (A) by force, threat or duress causes another to involuntarily engage in sexual relations;" Again, additionally, "one can now apply to the court for a harassment prevention, regardless of the presence of any family relationship."

The criminal defense lawyers at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. have helped countless clients file and defend restraining orders and harassment prevent orders in courts throughout Massachusetts. We have offices in Boston, Cambridge, and Quincy. Call us today for a free consultation at 617-225-2100. You can also use our secure contact form.

Proven Results Dismissed- Harassment Prevention Order

Middlesex County (Woburn District Court) - Represented client in harassment prevention order where our client was accused of planting cameras in plaintiff's home and breaking in to a garage. Our client was the plaintiff's neighbor and had only spoken to the Plaintiff once before. At the ten day two party hearing three Burlington Police officers were summoned and testified showing our clients innocence. Our examination of the police officer and plaintiff showed the presiding judge that the plaintiff had fabricated all accusation against our client. The case was dismissed with a directed verdict.

Dismissed- Harassment Prevention Order

Suffolk County (Boston Municipal Court) - Represented client in harassment prevention order hearing and was able to prove that client was not present during alleged harassment. Client's work keycard logs were introduced and cases was dismissed.

Dismissed- Restraining Order

Middlesex County (Lowell District Court) - Filed motion to dismiss on first appearance. Client charged with two counts of violating restraining order; obtained returns of service for restraining order(s); he was alleged to have violated restraining order ex-wife took out against client on behalf of the parties’ two children. Client was not served with restraining order when violation occurred. Prosecution conceded motions to dismiss and both dockets were dismissed.

Dismissed- Restraining Order

Middlesex County (Malden District Court) - Client charged with two counts of violating restraining order; obtained returns of service for restraining order(s); he was alleged to have violated ROs ex-wife took out against client on behalf of the Parties’ two children. Client was not served with restraining order when violation occurred. Prosecution conceded motions to dismiss and both dockets were dismissed.

Call Us. We are Here to Help!

Modern DevicesModern devicesIf someone is initiating restraining order proceedings against you or are being charged with violating a restraining order, it is imperative to call the experienced Boston harassment order lawyers at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. at 617-225-2100 for a free consultation. You should not face the legal system alone. Instead, trust our decades of experience in representing you at the restraining order hearing and beyond to protect your rights. Our attorneys will work with you and the court to defend your rights and restore your rightful freedoms and good name. We have offices in Boston, Cambridge and Quincy and serve all of Massachusetts.

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