Understanding Personal Protection Orders in MA

Understanding Personal Protection Orders in MA

A Personal Protection Order (PPO), commonly known as a restraining order or protective order, is a legal injunction used to protect individuals from harassment, abuse, or threats. In Massachusetts, these orders are critical legal tools designed to safeguard victims of domestic violence, stalking, and other forms of harassment. This article provides a comprehensive overview of PPOs in Massachusetts, including the types, the process of obtaining one, and the legal implications.

Types of Personal Protection Orders

Massachusetts law recognizes several types of protection orders, each catering to different situations:

  1. Abuse Prevention Orders (209A Orders): These are commonly known as restraining orders or domestic violence orders. They protect individuals from abuse by a family or household member. Abuse can include physical harm, attempts to cause harm, placing someone in fear of imminent serious physical harm, or causing someone to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat, or duress.
  2. Harassment Prevention Orders (258E Orders): These orders protect individuals from harassment by anyone, regardless of their relationship to the harasser. Harassment is defined as three or more acts that cause fear, intimidation, abuse, or damage to property, or one act of forced sexual relations.

Obtaining a Personal Protection Order

The process of obtaining a PPO in Massachusetts involves several steps:

  1. Filing the Complaint: The person seeking protection (the plaintiff) must file a complaint in the appropriate court. For 209A Orders, this can be done in a district court, probate and family court, or superior court. For 258E Orders, the complaint is typically filed in district court or superior court.
  2. Completing the Necessary Forms: The plaintiff must complete several forms, including the complaint form detailing the incidents of abuse or harassment and the request for a temporary restraining order.
  3. Emergency Orders: If the plaintiff is in immediate danger, they can request an emergency order, which can be issued without the defendant being present (ex parte). These orders typically last up to 10 days, during which a hearing will be scheduled.
  4. Court Hearing: A hearing is held where both the plaintiff and the defendant can present their case. The judge will decide whether to issue a more extended order, which can last up to one year and may be renewed.

Legal Implications of Personal Protection Orders

Once a PPO is issued, it imposes several legal obligations and restrictions on the defendant:

  1. No Contact: The defendant is typically prohibited from contacting the plaintiff in any manner, including in-person, by phone, through electronic communication, or via third parties.
  2. Stay Away: The defendant must stay a certain distance away from the plaintiff’s home, workplace, or other specified locations.
  3. Surrender of Firearms: In cases involving 209A Orders, the defendant may be required to surrender any firearms and firearm licenses they possess.
  4. Custody and Support: The order may include temporary custody arrangements for children and provisions for child or spousal support.

Violating a PPO is a serious offense in Massachusetts and can result in criminal charges, including arrest and prosecution. Penalties can include fines, imprisonment, or both.

Importance of Legal Representation

While it is possible to obtain a PPO without an attorney, legal representation is highly recommended. An attorney can provide valuable assistance in navigating the complex legal process, ensuring that all necessary documentation is properly completed and filed, and representing the plaintiff or defendant during court hearings.

Conclusion

Personal Protection Orders are vital legal instruments designed to protect individuals from abuse, harassment, and threats. Understanding the types of orders available, the process for obtaining one, and the legal implications can help individuals in Massachusetts better protect themselves and their loved ones.

If you or someone you know needs assistance with a Personal Protection Order, contact The Law Offices of Elliot Savitz & Scott Bradley. Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to providing compassionate and effective legal representation. We will guide you through every step of the process, ensuring your rights and safety are protected. Call us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards securing your peace of mind.

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