According to The Lowell Sun, following his arraignment in the Middlesex County Superior Court, a Lowell Massachusetts man, Neil Sylvester was ordered to be held on $25,000.00 cash bail after being being charged with assault and battery, stalking (a subsequent offense) violating a restraining order, (four counts), and three counts of witness intimidation. Sylvester, who was already in jail for stalking his former girlfriend, thought it was a good idea to send her metal rods from his hand to demonstrate his lover for her. Apparently, his former flame did not like the present and contacted the authorities. Sylvester found himself facing criminal charges for his ill advised behavior.
In Massachusetts, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 43 indicates that an individual can be charged with stalking if he or she willfully and maliciously engages in a “. . . knowing pattern of of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person which seriously alarms or annoys that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and (2) makes a threat with the intent to place the person in imminent fear of death or bodily injury. . . ” In the event that a defendant is found guilty of stalking he or she can be sentenced to up to five years in state prison or by imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than two years. The crime of stalking is a felony because a potential sentence is a state prison sentence.
The charge of violating a restraining order is a misdemeanor because the potential penalty is house of correction sentence. In Massachusetts, a restraining order is a civil order however, in the event that an individual is charged with violating the order a criminal charge can issue. There are currently two types of restraining orders that an individual can apply for in Massachusetts. The more “traditional” order is referred to as a “209 A” restraining order. In order for someone to apply for that type of court order the parties must be related, married, roommates or have been involved in a substantial dating relationship. In order to get that type of order an applicant must initially convince a judge that he or she is in reasonable fear of immediate physical harm from the defendant. Typically, a temporary order is issued by a judge and a further hearing date is set so that the defendant can appear to oppose the order if he or she choses to do so.
The other type of order is called a 258 E Harassment Prevention Order. There is not requirement that the parties be involved in any type of personal relationship for this type of order to issue. Chapter 258E provides the following three definitions of “harassment” warranting relief: (1)”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, abuse or damage to property”; or (2) a single act that “by force, threat, or duress causes another to involuntarily engage in sexual relations”; or (3) a single act that constitutes one of 12 enumerated crimes involving sexual assault, stalking, or harassment. The first paragraph is the most common paragraph that a plaintiff proceeds under.
Attorney Kathleen M. McCarthy has focused her practice on criminal law and restraining order law for the past twenty-five years. She routinely appears in local district courts including Peabody, Haverhill and Boston Municipal Court defending clients charged with crimes. She has also successfully prevented the extension of restraining orders and assisted plaintiffs in navigating themselves through the system to secure such an order. If you are charged with a crime or need assistance in defending against or attaining a restraining order and want experience and skill on your side contact Attorney McCarthy on-line or at 978-975-8060 and she will get to work on your case immediately.