What is the Difference Between a Restraining Order and a Harassment Prevention Order

An abuse prevention order (209A order) and a harassment prevention order are the two forms of restraining orders available in Massachusetts (258E order). You have deemed the plaintiff if you are seeking abuse prevention order or harassment prevention order. You are the defendant if you have been issued with an abuse prevention order or a harassment prevention order.  In any case, you'll have the best chance of succeeding in court if you're represented by a lawyer at the Bellotti Law Group P.C. who has handled restraining orders in all courts in Massachusetts.

Restraining Orders: What They are and How They Work

There are different types of restraining orders in Massachusetts. If you are involved in a domestic violence conflict, you may face one or more types. Your spouse or another family member can seek protection under the law from the courts in the following ways:

Abuse Prevention Order (209A Order)

The petitioner is protected against physical or sexual abuse by a relative or household member under this sort of order. By directing the defendant to refrain from contacting, abusing, or living with the petitioner, shields the petitioner from damage or the fear of harm induced by force. A 209A Order can also grant temporary custody of a minor child to the petitioner. M. G. L. c. 209A defines this order, which is also known as a restraining order or a 209A protective order. According to Massachusetts law, abuse is referred to the act of:

  1. Causing or trying to inflict bodily damage to another,
  2. Putting another in fear of impending significant bodily harm, or
  3. Forcing another to participate in involuntary sexual intercourse via force, the threat of force, or duress.

Man Holding Woman's Shoulder You may be eligible for an abuse prevention order if you have been the victim of one of the abuses listed above. An abuse prevention order can be sought against a husband, ex-spouse, blood or marriage related, present or former household member, or someone with whom you had a substantial romantic connection. An abuse prevention order is valid for one year and may be extended at a later date pending a hearing. The following protections may be provided by an abuse prevention order:

  • Protection against future abuse.
  • Protection against the abuser's direct or indirect touch.
  • Stop the abuser from visiting your house or place of business.
  • Children's temporary custody.
  • Prevent the abuser from coming into touch with the children.
  • The impoundment is a method of preventing the revelation of one's address.
  • The abuser's surrender of guns.
  • Other types of protection may be available depending on your individual needs.
Violation of an Abuse Prevention Order

Money Under Law Gavel A violation of an abuse prevention order carries a maximum fine of $5,000, a maximum sentence of 2.5 years in a correctional facility, or both. In addition to these penalties, anybody found in breach is liable to a $25 court fee and may be ordered to pay the plaintiff monetary damages for losses incurred as a result of the harassment. Anyone who violates this order is also required to undergo a Certified Batterer's Intervention Program. It is a crime to violate an abuse prevention order. The prosecution must be able to establish four things beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict someone of breaking an abuse prevention order:

The order was in force on the day of the alleged violation, the defendant was aware of the terms of the order by either receiving a copy of the order or learning of it in some other way, and the defendant violated the terms of the order in a manner forbidden by the order.

Harassment Prevention Order (258E Order)

This sort of restraining order is designed to prevent you from being harassed. Someone who possesses proof that a defendant committed three or more intentional and malicious acts that were meant to (and did) cause fear, intimidation, property damage, or abuse is entitled to obtain this order.

A harassment prevention order is a court order that protects a person from being harassed on a regular basis. The law, which is established under Chapter 258E of the Massachusetts General Laws, went into force in Massachusetts in February 2010. Harassment is defined by the law as the occurrence of one of the following events:

  • Three or more acts of deliberate and malicious behavior directed against a specific person, with the goal to create fear, intimidation, abuse, or property damage, and which really produce fear, intimidation, abuse, or property damage, or
  • A single act that forces someone to participate in sexual intercourse unwillingly due to force, threat, or duress, or
  • One of the 12 enumerated offenses involving sexual assault, stalking, or harassment was committed in a single act.

Man chasing a Woman A harassment prevention order may be issued by the District Court, Boston Municipal Court, Superior Court, or Massachusetts Juvenile Courts to an individual who has been subjected to one of the three cases listed above. The Probate and Family Court lacks the authority to impose harassment prevention orders.

This act does not require the person asking the order to be related to the person against whom the order is being sought. A harassment prevention order just needs the individual to prove that he or she has been the victim of three or more acts of harassment, as opposed to the abuse prevention order described above. A victim of this form of harassment can ask the court for an injunction requiring the perpetrator to:

  • Avoid harassing or abusing the plaintiff.
  • Do not contact the plaintiff.
  • Keep a safe distance from the plaintiff's home or workplace.
  • Compensation for financial damages incurred as a direct result of the harassment.
Contact a Restraining Order Attorney

A restraining order hearing can be an important element of your defense. It gives you a vital opportunity to question your accuser and assess their credibility. If you've been issued with a restraining order, you'll need the help of a lawyer from the Bellotti Law Group P.C.

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