If you are considering filing a restraining order, you need an experienced attorney to help, because you may need to appear in court for a hearing. While you can file for a restraining order yourself, if you feel that you are being harassed, stalked, or abused, that is an extremely serious matter. Having an attorney who knows the ins and outs of the restraining order filing process could be the key to a judge granting the order.
What are the Different Types of Restraining Orders?
- 209A Order
- Only applies to family members (spouses, blood relatives, etc.) or people with whom you have had a significant dating relationship.
- 258E Order (Harassment Prevention Order)
- Can be used to protect you from anyone, regardless of your relationship with them
- Generally speaking, a Harassment Prevention Order is aimed at preventing stalking, sexual harassment, or further sexual assault against an alleged victim
- Someone may be served with a 258E Order if they:
- Committed willful and malicious acts against someone. This includes three or more intentional acts aimed at the accuser with the intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse, or damage to property, and were motivated by cruelty, hostility, or revenge.
- Forced someone to have sex or threatens someone into having sex.
- Committed a sexually motivated offense. This includes rape, statutory rape, indecent assault and battery, assault with intent to rape, criminal stalking, or criminal harassment.
What Can They do?
Under an approved restraining order, the court can order the defendant to…
- Not contact the plaintiff
- Remain a certain amount of space away from the plaintiff
- Vacate common spaces (homes, work places, etc.) and remain away from the house, or workplace where the plaintiff lives (even if you own the property)
- Give custody of children to the plaintiff
- Pay temporary child support
- Pay compensation for losses suffered as a result of the abuse
- Refrain from abusing or contacting the plaintiff’s child
- Turn over any firearms and be prohibited from having firearms while the order is active.
The court can also recommend to the defendant that they attend a batterer intervention program.
What are the Steps for Filing a Restraining Order?
- Fill out an application for a restraining order
- Go to a hearing (on the same day that you applied for the restraining order) to explain to a judge why you want to file a restraining order (ex parte hearing)
- Go to another hearing, approximately ten days after applying for the 209A Order (two party hearing)
- The opposing side will get a chance to tell their side of the story
What are the Steps for Filing a Harassment Prevention Order?
- Go to your local district court to complete the application for a harassment prevention order
- Go in front of the judge to have a hearing on your harassment prevention order
- Attend a hearing before a judge approximately ten days after receiving the harassment prevention order
- The defendant may also attend, and will have the opportunity to present their side to the judge
While these steps may sound fairly simple, in practice they are not. There are several factors that go into whether or not a judge will grant you a restraining order. A large part of that has to do with the initial hearing after you’ve applied for the restraining order (also called filing a complaint). Hiring a restraining order attorney is the way to give yourself the best chance at getting a judge to grant you the order. An attorney can help present your side to the judge by calling witnesses, showing physical evidence, and can explain the situation in a way that is professional and firm.
If you are thinking about filing a restraining order, call my office at 617-295-7500.