Abuse Prevention Orders & Harassment Prevention Orders– What You Need To Know

Whether you are seeking an order of protection or have had one issued against you, you’ll need to know what they are and how they differ from each other. Read on to find out more about what each of these orders mean and what you should do.

 

There may come a time when you need to have someone excluded from your life for your own personal safety and wellbeing, or you may find yourself accused of threatening or harassing someone and have received an order stating as such.

An Abuse Prevention Order in Massachusetts is also called a “209A Order” and is an order from a judge that may be granted if the following criteria are met:

1. You and your abuser are or were:

  • married,
  • or residing together in the same household,
  • or in a substantive dating or engagement relationship,
  • or related by blood or marriage,
  • or you have a child in common;

2. and you are suffering from abuse because your abuser has:

  • harmed or attempted to harm you physically,
  • or put you in fear of imminent serious physical harm,
  • or caused you to engage in sexual relations involuntarily by using force, threat or duress;

3. and you:

  • currently live within the geographical area of the court issuing the order.
  • or used to live within the geographical area of this court but you left to avoid abuse.

 

A judge may issue an Abuse Prevention Order without prior notice to your abuser if there is a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse.

A Harassment Prevention Order (a “258E Order”) is an order from a judge that is similar to an abuse prevention order, but it also has some very notable differences. You may have a harassment prevention order granted if the following are met:

1. You are suffering from harassment because:

  • someone has committed 3 or more acts: that were willful and malicious,

“Malicious” means characterized by cruelty, hostility or revenge.

  •  and were aimed at you,
  •  and were intended to cause you fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property, “Abuse” means causing or attempting to cause physical harm, or causing fear of imminent serious physical harm.
  • and did in fact cause you fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property;
  • or someone has caused you at least once to engage in sexual relations involuntarily by using force, threat or duress;
  • or someone has committed against you at least once an act that violates any of the following statutes: General Laws chapter 265, §§ 13B, 13F or 13H (indecent assault and battery), 22 or 22A (rape), 23 (statutory rape), 24 or 24B (assault with intent to rape), 26C (enticing a child), 43 (criminal stalking), 43A (criminal harassment), or chapter 272, § 3 (drugging for sexual intercourse);

2. and you currently live within the geographical area of the court.

A judge may issue a Harassment Prevention Order without prior notice to your harasser if there is a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of harassment.

While they are similar, their are some notable differences between the two orders. For example, the Probate and Family Court can issue 209A orders but not Harassment Prevention Orders.

Regardless of what you need, or what you are defending against, guidance with these matters is important for helping you navigate these complex situations. An order of protection of any kind indicates a high level of conflict in your domestic relations matter and you will need expert support to resolve the conflict for the safety and well-being of everyone involved. Whether this is an isolated matter or part of a larger case, I would be happy to guide you through what can be a confusing and isolating process.

 

To speak further with Attorney Mark Cotton on this issue or another that you are facing, click here for more information.

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