In Massachusetts, someone can apply for a “restraining order” against another person even if the parties are not related, not roommates and have not been in a dating relationship. Massachusetts restraining order Attorney Kathleen M. McCarthy has years of experience fighting for defendants who have been served with civil 209A restraining orders or 258E Harassment Prevention Orders.
Traditionally in Massachusetts, it was necessary for the parties to either be related, living together or involved in a substantial dating relationship to have standing to apply for a civil 209 A restraining order requesting that a judge order one party to stay away or not contact another party. The standard that must be met for a judge to issue a 209A restraining order is that the complainant has a reasonable fear of imminent serious physical harm from the defendant. In Massachusetts, an individual can seek a temporary order in a district court. If the defendant is not readily available a judge often issues the order for a short period of time, one week to ten days, and sets a return date with the expectation that the responding party will be notified of the hearing. This allows a defendant to appear and court and make his or her case why the restraining order should not be extended. Typically the defendant maintains that the plaintiff is not telling the truth and/or that even if what the plaintiff is claiming is true, he or she failed to establish that these actions could reasonably cause the plaintiff to reasonably be in fear of immediate serious physical harm. Massachusetts defense lawyer Kathleen M. McCarthy meticulously prepares for these hearings. Securing the affidavit that the plaintiff filed in support of the order and reviewing all supporting documentation, such as emails, text messages and any other documents to support the clients position is crucial to be prepared to mount a successful defense. A 209A restraining order is a civil order however, any alleged violation can result in a criminal charge against a defendant for violation the restraining order. Additionally, an individual who has a restraining order issued against him or her must surrender all firearms. This fact may effect employment for individuals that are in law enforcement or other professions in which carrying a firearm is part of the job. Clearly, mounting a successful defense and preventing the issuance or continuance of a 2090A order is critical.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 258E provides another avenue for plaintiffs to seek a civil restraining order against a defendant. This type of order is often referred to as a “Harassment Prevention Order. The statute 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. One major difference between this order and a 209A order is that the parties do not have to be related, married, roommates or have been involved in a substantial dating relationship.
The most common provision that the District Courts see is the first section in which the plaintiff must demonstrate, “three 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.”
This first branch of harassment has five components. The first requires that there be three or more acts of harassment. The additional requirements are as follows: (1) Each act must be aimed at a specific person; (2) Each act must have been both willful and malicious; (3) Each act must have been done with intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse or property damage; and (4) Each act must in fact have caused fear, intimidation, abuse or property damage. Defending the issuance or extension of this type of order requires an experienced Harassment Prevention Order attorney to attack each prong of the requirements. The attorney must conduct interviews with the defendant and any potential witnesses and review the appropriate documents.