kristin@weberglaw.com
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Restraining Orders

Do you feel like your life is on the line?

A restraining order can exclude you from your home, your children, and order you to pay money to the plaintiff.  The collateral consequences of a restraining order could include loss of job/career, loss of ability to own firearms, and the lifelong stigma of a record of the order.  Violation of this order has serious consequences, including imprisonment.

If you are the target of an unjust restraining order, it is crucial that you have effective representation in court.

It is likely that you have a short window to defend yourself against these allegations.

Ex Parte

A judge can enter the order without you being present in court.
Once an order is issued a hearing will be scheduled (typically 7-10 from the date of the order).
At this hearing both parties can argue why the order should or should not be continued.
The judge can rule to continue the order for up to 1 year.
 

Time is of the Essence

An order can be issued based on the testimony of the Defendant. 
Don’t let “half-truths” destroy your life.
Hire an Attorney quickly, so that he/she has the time to prepare for your hearing. 

Criminal Charges

Violating a restraining order can have criminal consequences.  An innocent set of circumstances, such as indirect contact communication, or a “butt dial” or running into the defendant at a grocery store, can result in arrest and criminal charges.  

 

G.L. 209A

Massachusetts provides two primary tools for persons who feel in need of protection from abusive or harassing behavior: G.L. c. 258E Harassment Protection Orders and G.L. 209A Restraining Orders. Both of these start with one person, the Plaintiff, going to court and filing a Complaint for an Abuse Prevention Order or Protection from Harassment. The Plaintiff must file an affidavit with this Complaint. An affidavit is a sworn statement which sets forth the alleged abuse or harassment. Typically a judge reviews the Complaint and affidavit and issues a Temporary Order against the Defendant. The Defendant is then served with the order by local law enforcement and given a summons for a hearing. At this hearing, the judge will have to examine the evidence against the legal standard and decide whether or not to extend the order. While these orders can be protective tools for victims of abuse and harassment, some people use them as weapons to gain leverage in other court proceedings or to seek revenge or retaliation. For a person who has been served with notice of an unjust restraining order, there may be many strong feelings including those of hopelessness and disbelief. The collateral consequences of a restraining order could include loss of job/career, loss of child custody, loss of ability to own firearms, and the lifelong stigma of a record of the order. If you are the target of an unjust restraining order, it is crucial that you have effective representation in court. When choosing a lawyer to assist you, the lawyer should be able to clearly explain to you the burden of proof at such a hearing, be willing to review the evidence you have collected as well as the court file, and draft a memorandum of law to present to the judge. It is common for lawyers not to use some of the information you think is important. If your lawyer does this, it is not a red flag, but be sure he or she can explain to you why they are making those strategic decisions. Finally, your lawyer should not guarantee an outcome. Restraining order hearings are highly emotional and dependent on the specific facts, court, judge, and parties involved. Predicting the outcome, as much as you might like to have reassurance, is not possible.

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Criminal Defense and Family Law Firm.