Restraining Order & Harassment Law
Restraining Order and Harassment Order Services Lawyer in Taunton MA
Serving Bristol, and Plymouth Counties in MA
Whether you need a restraining order or want to contest the charges, I can help. Everyone has a right to quality representation. My office will work with you to understand your needs and give you options that empower you. This may include filing criminal charges against the abuser or filing for custody or divorce.
What is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order is a court order which prevents a one person from having contact with or abusing another. It is designed to protect and prevent abuse. Restraining orders are only issued if the people involved are family, have a child in common, or are/were in a “substantial dating relationship.” Violations of a restraining order, no matter how small (such as sending a text message), are considered a felony. The court may order a temporary or “10 day” restraining orders without a hearing in order to provide immediate protection until a hearing date can be scheduled and the other party notified. At that hearing, the Defendant has a right to challenge the basis of the order and explain to the Court why it should not be issued. If the Court decides to issue one, it may be issued for up to one year before needing to be renewed in Court.
How do I take out a restraining order against someone?
You can file for a restraining order at the local courthouse. If the Courts are closed you can go to the local police station any time, night or day, and file the order with them. At this time, you will be required to fill out paperwork including a sworn affidavit or statement explaining why you need this order. Often times you will be required to speak to a judge either in person or over the phone if it is after hours to tell the judge why it is you need the order. If the judge feels as though you need this immediately on an emergency basis, the judge may issue an emergency order known as a “temporary” or “10 day” restraining order and set it down for a hearing with both parties present 10 business days later. If the judge does not feel that an emergency order is appropriate, he or she may still set it down for a hearing 10 business days later. At that hearing you will need to prove to the judge why it is you need the order. At this hearing the defendant or his or her attorney have a right to oppose this including questioning you formally. After the judge has heard from both sides, he or she will either issue or not issue the order for up to one year.
Why should I hire a lawyer to help me take out a restraining order?
In order grant a restraining order, a judge has to find certain facts to be true. It is not just enough that you don’t want a person to speak to you. This argument is both technical in terms of what needs to be proven, and emotional for the person seeking the order due to the very nature of domestic violence. Having me representing you gives you a better chance of having the order granted. This is because I know what facts are important for the judge to hear and what is not. I am able to keep the emotion out of it and keep the judge focused on the facts that matter.
Why is it important to oppose a restraining order?
While a restraining order is a civil order, it places many restrictions on a defendant with steep consequences. It requires the defendant to cease contact with the Plaintiff and stay away from them, their residence, and their place of work or school. When children are involved, a restraining order immediately overrides any family court order meaning that parent often miss out on time with their children while the process is sorted out by the courts. In addition, when a restraining order is issued, the defendant must surrender any guns he or she owns as well as the person’s gun license or license to carry. They may only possess firearms once the order is removed. The fact that an order was issued can also be used as grounds to revoke or limit the Defendant’s License to carry either when the order expires or when the License is up for renewal. On top of all that, any violation of the order, no matter how small, is a felony. Violations may include; failure to maintain a specific distance from a person, and communicating with the person, including in-person or phone conversations, emails, and online or text messaging. On top of all of this, often a temporary order has already been issued, meaning that a judge has heard the Plaintiff’s side and has found that the Plaintiff needs a restraining order. In these cases especially, it is important that you have an experienced attorney who is able to see the holes in the Plaintiff’s story and credibility so that an ugly, emotional situation is not mistaken for an abusive one.
What other types of Protective Orders are available to me?
If you are facing a situation where there is no dating or family relationship, or you are being harassed and threatened but not abused, the District Court may issue a Harassment Prevention order.
How are Harassment Prevention Orders different from Restraining Orders?
The process of applying for a Harassment Prevention Order is nearly identical to that of applying for a Restraining Order. However, there are a number of key differences. Unlike a restraining order, a Harassment Order does not require there to be a special relationship between the parties. This means that any person can seek a Harassment order against another person. In addition, the person seeking a harassment order needs only to prove that the person they are seeking the order against has engaged in harassment, and not abuse. Harassment is defined as 3 or more acts of conduct meant to cause fear, intimidation, or damage to property. Because of this a harassment order is able to offer protection in a much wider range of situations that a restraining order. In many cases those initially seeking a Restraining order find a Harassment Order to better fit their needs. The protections offered by the Harassment order as well as the penalties for violating it are identical to those of a Restraining order. The sole exception to this is that the issuance of a Harassment order does not strip the Defendant of their constitutional right to keep and bear arms..
Summary of the key features of both Restraining Orders and Harassment Orders
Restraining Orders require:
Restraining Orders require the Defendant to:
Restraining Orders require the Defendant to:
Harassment Orders require the Defendant to:
Eric P. DiMarzio
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