Restraining Orders & Safety Planning

Restraining Orders & Safety Planning

Nearly one third of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.  Additionally, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44, more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.

Battering is a pattern of coercive control that one person exercises over another.  Abusers use physical and sexual violence, threats, emotional insults and economic deprivation as a way to dominate their partners.  Battering crosses all socio-economic, age, gender, racial, cultural and religious boundaries.  Our domestic violence attorneys assist survivors in taking back control of their lives with support, planning, and a holistic approach to client advocacy.

What Protections Are Available Under The Law?

If someone has physically abused you, or attempted to physically abuse you, placed you in fear of imminent serious physical harm, or has forced you to have sex by force or by threat of force, you may be entitled to a Restraining Order under Chapter 209A (sometimes called an Abuse Prevention Order or simply a "209A").

In order to qualify for a 209A Restraining Order, the abuser must be: related to you by blood or by marriage, or someone with whom you have had or now have a "substantive" dating or engagement relationship, or anyone with whom you have lived or now live, or your current or former spouse, or the parent of your child(ren).

What Can The Court Order Under A 209A Restraining Order?

If the court decides to grant a request for a 209A Restraining Order, a judge may order any or all of the following: 

  • that the defendant refrain from abusing the plaintiff;
  • that the defendant vacate and stay away from where plaintiff lives or is now staying;
  • that the defendant stay away from the plaintiff's workplace and other specific locations (such as child’s school);
  • that the defendant have no contact with the plaintiff;
  • that the defendant stay at least a certain number of yards away from the plaintiff;
  • that the defendant pay the plaintiff for losses suffered as a direct result of the abuse; and
  • that the defendant relinquish all firearms.

What If I Am Being Harassed Or Abused By A Person Who Does Not Fit Any Of The 209A Restraining Order Categories?

If you are being harassed or abused by an individual who does not fall into any of the above relationship categories required of 209A, you may seek a Harassment Prevention Order under Chapter 258E.

You may be entitled to request a Harassment Prevention Order from a judge if someone has committed 3 or more acts of harassment that were willfully and maliciously aimed at you and intended to cause you fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property.

You may also be entitled to a Harassment Prevention Order under Chapter 258E from an individual who has forced you to engage in sexual relations, or has violated any other law specifically involving sexual assault, stalking or harassment. These include G.L. c. 265, §§ 13B (Indecent assault and battery on a child), 13F (Indecent assault and battery on a mentally retarded person), 13H (Indecent assault and battery), 22 (Rape), 22A (Forcible rape of a child), 23 (Statutory rape), 24 (Assault with intent to rape), 24B (Assault with intent to rape a child), 26C (Enticement of a child), 43 (Criminal stalking) or 43A (Criminal harassment), or G.L. c. 272, § 3 (Drugging for sexual intercourse).

What Can The Court Order Under A 258E Restraining Order?

If the Court decides to grant a request for a 258E Restraining Order, a judge may order any or all of the following:

  • That the defendant refrain from “abusing or harassing” the plaintiff;
  • That the defendant refrain from contacting the plaintiff
  • That the defendant remain away from the plaintiff's household or workplace; and
  • That the defendant pay the plaintiff restitution for losses caused directly by the harassment or abuse.

How Do I Obtain A Restraining Order Under 209A Or 258E?

The process for obtaining a Restraining Order under both 209A and 258E are very similar.

An individual seeking relief from abuse or harassment may obtain a restraining order at his or her local Superior Court, Boston Municipal Court, or District Court.  A 209A Restraining Order may also be obtained from the Probate and Family Court servicing the county in which you live.  The applicant will need to prepare a Complaint Form, an Affidavit where you explain why you need protection from abuse, a Request for Address Impoundment Form if you are asking that the court keep your address confidential, a Plaintiff Confidential Information Form, a Defendant Information Form describing the Defendant and where he or she can be found to assist law enforcement officers in finding that person and delivering to them the abuse prevention order, and an Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceedings if you have any children.

Before a restraining order will be issued, the applicant must go before the judge and explain why an Abuse Prevention Order is necessary.  You must demonstrate to the judge that there is a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse or, in the case of a 258E, danger of abuse or harassment.

If the judge grants the temporary protection order, it will be good for approximately 10 days.  You will be given a hearing date approximately 10 days later, at which you will need to come back to court to seek an Abuse Prevention Order that will be in place for approximately 6 months to 1 year.  The defendant will get notice of this hearing date and will be able to attend and give his or her side of the story.  If your Abuse Prevention Order is granted, you must then return to court prior to expiration and either ask for a further extension of the Abuse Prevention Order or state that you no longer need the order.

If you need a protective order and the courts are closed, you may go to your local police department to obtain a temporary protective order.  They will help you get a temporary protective order from a judge on call through the "Emergency Judicial Response System."  If you are issued this order, it will only be good until the close of the next day that the court is open.  For the protection to remain in effect, you must go to court before the close of the next business day to request an Abuse Prevention Order, via the process outlined above.

Can I Have My Own Lawyer In Court?

You are entitled to have your own lawyer with you when you apply for your initial abuse or harassment prevention order and at any later hearing on extending or modifying the terms of an order.  Oftentimes, the better prepared a plaintiff is at his or her initial hearing, the better the chances are that his or her abuse or harassment prevention order will be granted.

At Vaughn-Martel Law, our restraining order attorneys represent clients who are in need of safety planning and who wish to obtain an abuse or harassment prevention order.  In many instances, the defendant will retain an attorney to fight against the issuance of any sort of court order.  Since evidence and testimony can be introduced at your '10-Day Hearing', it is especially important to have a lawyer present who can advocate your position, defend your interests and privacy, and explain all options available to you.

Contact us today to learn about our flat rates for court appearances and the services we offer.  All contact is confidential and without obligation.

What If The Defendant Violates The Restraining Order?

Violations of 209A and 258E Restraining Orders are criminal violations.  You may immediately contact the police upon a violation.  It is recommended that you carry a copy of your current Restraining Order with you at all times, so you will have it to show law enforcement if necessary.

Can I Obtain Civil Damages From A Perpetrator?

If you have been harmed as the result of sexual assault or other physical abuse, you may be entitled to bring a claim for personal injuries against the perpetrator.  In some instances, claims may be brought for abuse some years after the harmful events.  Different types of claims may exist.  For example, a claim for personal injuries may exist against the perpetrator.  In addition, claims of inadequate security or supervision may exist in the example of a tavern, hotel, homeowners, educational institution, or other entities with some duty to supervise or warn against forseeable risks.

The survivor of a sexual assault or other physical abuse may incur expenses for medical treatment and psycholgoical counseling, lost wages, and other harm, including depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and pain and suffering.  While we cannot undue injury and suffering, our personal injury attorneys and civil litigation attorneys can passionately advocate on behalf of our clients and seek just compensation for the harm caused.

What If I Am In Immediate Danger?

If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. You can also contact SafeLink, the Massachusetts Statewide Domestic Violence hotline.  The SafeLink hotline is staffed 24 hours a day with trained domestic violence counselors who can provide help in multiple languages.  Please call the toll free number: 1-877-785-2020.

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Vaughn-Martel Law represents clients in Suffolk County, Middlesex County, Essex County, Norfolk County, Plymouth County, Bristol County, Worcester County, Hampden County, and Franklin County. In Suffolk County MA, our Boston divorce attorneys and other attorneys can represent you if you reside in Allston MA 02134, Boston MA, East Boston MA 02128, Back Bay MA 02116, Beacon Hill MA 02114, Brighton MA 02135, Revere MA 02151, Cambridge MA 02139, Cambridge MA 02140, Charlestown MA 02129, Jamaica Plain MA 02130, Winthrop MA 02152, Roxbury MA 02118, Roxbury Mission Hill MA 02120, and Chelsea MA 02150.

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