Restraining orders, protection orders, and abuse prevention orders are all essentially the same thing. They are orders of the court preventing contact between two parties. Violating these orders is a criminal offense, and also can have significant civil implications.Criminal Charge in Massachusetts? Call Attorney Russell Matson at (781) 817-6332.
Although we commonly think of these kinds of orders in domestic violence and assault cases, they can be put in place when there has been a history of harassment or stalking. The orders themselves are a civil remedy whose violation is punishable by criminal charges.
I Fight Restraining Orders and Violations
I defend people accused of criminal charges violating a restraining order.
If you want to get a restraining order on someone else, I can’t help you with that. Go to the courthouse and file to have one issued. You don’t need an attorney to do so.
But if you are accused of violating a restraining order unfairly, and want to defend yourself, I can help. Please read my page on how restraining orders work and how you can fight them.
What Can a Restraining Order do?
Many people think a protection order just limits your physical proximity. While this is true, they can do a whole lot more. Protection orders can:
- Limit phone, Internet/online/text/messaging, and physical contact,
- Establish custody of children,
- Bar you from your own home, and
- Order support payments for spouse or children.
Basically, if there are any preventative measures a judge or alleged victim wants in place until a criminal hearing can be held, the protection order can do that.
Even if you believe the protection order is not justified, you have to abide by it.
Massachusetts Violation of a Restraining Order – Penalties
You can be charged with violation of a protection order for violating any tenet of the order. Even if the victim invites you over to the house, you accept, and they change their mind—you can be charged.
Violation of a restraining order carries a potential penalty of up to 2 ½ years in jail and $5,000 in fines. You will also likely be ordered to complete a batterer’s intervention program or even substance abuse treatment if the court sees fit.
Ref: MGL §209A.7
In addition to criminal penalties, if the protection order you violated is a temporary one on a case not yet heard in court, imagine how the violation can impact your pending criminal case. It certainly doesn’t look good to a court that you are violating their order, particularly when awaiting trial on other charges.
Restraining Order Violation – Defenses
Can you fight a restraining order violation charge? Absolutely. There are countless circumstances I’ve had to deal with that were completely unfair accusations, and frankly, absurd.
- You can be charged even if it is the other person initiates contact.
- You can be charged for being near the other person’s house, even if you live nearby.
- You can be accused of calling and hanging up, even if it wasn’t your phone.
- You can be charged for being near the other person’s car.
And police will arrest you on even the slightest suspicion of any violation of the order. They don’t want to “take chances” with these situation, and will almost certainly err on the side of making your life miserable than failing to act in a legitimate violation situation.
You can also argue to have a restraining order removed if it was ordered unlawfully, or without legal justification.
Again, even if you believe a restraining order is a mistake or not fair, you cannot knowingly violate it until it is deal with and removed.
The courts of Massachusetts take their directives very seriously and expect the citizens of the state to do the same. While the violation of a protection order is a serious charge, it is absolutely possible to beat it.
Domestic violence is a serious problem, and I don’t mean to suggest it isn’t. But I’ve seen too many cases where a restraining order is used as a weapon in a domestic situation that is absolutely not fair.
And, no matter what happened, everyone deserves a legal defense. Everyone.
If you are facing charges like this and afraid of what it might mean. Even if you think the order shouldn’t be in place at all—I can help. Contact me today to discuss the details of your case.
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