Harassment Prevention Orders (G.L.C. 258E)

General Laws Chapter 258E is the statute that provides for the issuance of "harassment prevention orders." These orders are similar to 209A "abuse prevention orders," and the procedures are essentially the same. The key differences between 258E orders and 209A orders lie in the provisions for eligibility and the relief that is available.

258E Eligibility

Eligibility for relief under 209A is limited to "family and household members." This includes those who: are married to one another, are living together, are in a substantive dating relationship, have a child in common, or are related by blood or marriage. In contrast, 258E orders may be taken out against anyone who is regarded as a threat, even complete strangers. Under this law, there are three definitions of "harassment" that can justify relief. "Harassment" can mean three or more willful and malicious acts directed at a specific person with the intent to cause fear and that do in fact cause fear. It could also mean any act, even a single one, that by force or threat causes another person to engage in sex. A single act will also be enough under the third possible definition of "harassment" if the act amounts to one of 12 specified crimes, all of which involve harassment, stalking, and sexual assault. These enumerated crimes include: indecent assault and battery, indecent assault and battery on a child, indecent assault and battery on a mentally retarded person, rape, statutory rape, forcible rape of a child, assault with intent to rape, assault with intent to rape a child, stalking, criminal harassment, drugging for sexual intercourse, and enticement of a child.

Relief Available Under 258E

There are four types of relief available under 258E. The court can order the defendant:

  1. Not to contact the plaintiff

  2. To stay away from the plaintiff's home or workplace

  3. To refrain from harassing or abusing the plaintiff

  4. To pay restitution for certain losses

Under 209A, on the other hand, the court can also authorize surrender of firearms, temporary child custody, vacate orders, and orders relating to visitation and support.

Other differences between 209A and 258E involve jurisdiction and venue. The Probate and Family Court does not have jurisdiction to issue 258E harassment prevention orders, but it does have jurisdiction to issue 209A orders. Unlike 209A, the Juvenile Court may have jurisdiction to issue 258E orders if both parties are less than 17 years of age. Venue is more limited under 258E in that, unlike 209A, it is not available when the plaintiff flees from a former residence to escape harassment.

Punishment for Violations

Harassment prevention orders, like restraining orders, are civil in nature. However, a violation of a harassment prevention order is a criminal offense punishable by up to 2 1/2 years in the house of correction or a $5,000 fine, or both.

Experienced Massachusetts Defense Lawyer (978) 975-8060

Kathleen M. McCarthy is one of Massachusetts' most talented and experienced criminal defense attorneys. She has succeeded in getting harassment prevention orders vacated. This is extremely important because a violation will likely result in the issuance of a criminal complaint. Attorney McCarthy also defends those who have been accused of violating harassment prevention orders. She stands by her clients at every step of the way, and always takes an aggressive position. Without a doubt, Attorney McCarthy is the lawyer that you want in your corner. To speak with her, call the Law Offices of Kathleen M. McCarthy at (978) 975-8060 or contact us online today.

Case Results » Harassment Prevention Orders (G.L.C. 258E)
  • Non-Citizen Client Avoids Charge Of Violation Of A Harassment Prevention Order Following A Clerk-Magistrates Hearing

    After receiving notification that an unhappy ex-girlfriend secured a M.G.L. ch.258E Harassment Prevention Order against him, the dejected ex-boyfriend believed he was on his best behavior. Much to his surprise, he received notification that his ex claimed that he violated the order by contacting her mother through Facebook.

    The defendant promptly contacted our office and the investigation began. During the Clerk-Magistrate's hearing Attorney McCarthy successfully argued that any alleged contact was not a violation as there was NO intent to contact the plaintiff. Additionally, she emphasized the client's impressive educational, professional and philanthropic background. The clerk did NOT issue the complaint and provided there are no further incidents the defendant will NEVER appear before a judge. The client left the courthouse relieved with the fact that the does not have to be concerned about any collateral immigration consequences.

    Read More in Clerk Magistrate Hearings

  • Attorney McCarthy Successful Argues For An Initial Issuance of a M.G.L.ch. 258E Harassment Prevention Order And For A One Year Extension Of The Order

    A friendly relationship between neighbors turned sour when one neighbor repeatedly threatened the other's dog, kicked in a fence a boundary fence a number of times, intimidated the family with the car and threw the carcass of a dead animal on their property. Fed up and afraid for their family's safety, the plaintiffs applied for a 258E Harassment Prevention Order. A District Court Judge allowed the initial ex-part order.

    Approximately one week later, both sides appeared in court. The plaintiffs wanted the judge to extend the order and the defendant wanted the judge to vacate the order.

    During the hearing our office emphasized the fact that the defendant's improper actions were clearly directed at them, that there were three or more acts of harassment with the intent to intimidate the neighbors and the neighbors were in fact intimidated. Following a lengthy hearing, the judge agreed with the plaintiffs and extended the order for one year. The plaintiffs left the courthouse feeling relieved and safer.

    Read More in Restraining Orders

  • Attorney McCarthy Successfully Vacates 258E Harassment Prevention Order In The Massachusetts Appeals Court

    A plaintiff went to the local district court criticizing his neighbor's treatment of his adult son and the fact the neighbor complained about the plaintiff's dog and aggressive behavior of the son. A district court judge improperly allowed the M.G.L. ch. 258E harassment prevention order that negatively effected the defendant's enjoyment of his home as the parties lived right next door to one another.

    The defendant retained Attorney McCarthy to appeal the initial issuance of the order and the one-year extension. Attorney McCarthy drafted a persuasive appellate brief and vigorously argued on the defendant's behalf during oral argument. She stressed that the plaintiff failed to allege three separate acts of harassment specifically directed at the plaintiff. Furthermore, even if three acts were identified, they were not acts of harassment as there were legitimate reasons behind any action taken by the defendant. The Court agreed and vacated the order. Accordingly, any evidence of the order must be destroyed in the District Court and by law enforcement.

    Read More in Criminal Appeals