Understanding the Burden of Proof in a PPO in Massachusetts

Understanding the Burden of Proof in a PPO in Massachusetts

What is the Burden of Proof in a Restraining Order Hearing?

A restraining order, also known as a Personal Protection Order (PPO), is a legal order issued by a court to protect individuals from harassment, abuse, or threats. In Massachusetts, there are two primary types of restraining orders: Abuse Prevention Orders (209A Orders) and Harassment Prevention Orders (258E Orders). The burden of proof refers to the obligation to present evidence to support one’s claim. In a restraining order hearing in Massachusetts, the burden of proof lies with the petitioner (the person seeking the restraining order).

How High is the Burden of Proof?

In Massachusetts, the standard of proof required to obtain a restraining order is “preponderance of the evidence.” This means that the petitioner must show that it is more likely than not that the alleged abuse or harassment occurred. This standard is lower than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is used in criminal cases.

What Does “Preponderance of the Evidence” Mean?

“Preponderance of the evidence” means that the evidence presented by the petitioner must be more convincing than the evidence presented by the respondent (the person contesting the restraining order). The judge must believe that there is a greater than 50% chance that the petitioner’s claims are true.

What Kind of Evidence is Considered?

The court considers various types of evidence, including:

  • Testimonies: Statements from the petitioner, respondent, and any witnesses.
  • Physical Evidence: Documents, photos, medical records, or any tangible items that support the claims.
  • Electronic Evidence: Text messages, emails, social media posts, and phone records.

What Role Does the Respondent Play?

The respondent has the right to contest the restraining order by presenting their own evidence and witnesses. It is crucial for the respondent to attend the hearing and provide a compelling defense against the allegations.

How Can The Law Offices of Elliot Savitz & Scott Bradley help?

An experienced attorney can be invaluable in these situations. They can help gather evidence, prepare your defense, and represent you effectively in court. The Law Offices of Elliot Savitz & Scott Bradley specialize in handling restraining order cases and can provide the support and expertise you need to defend your rights.


Understanding the burden of proof in a restraining order hearing is essential for both petitioners and respondents. If you are involved in a restraining order case and need legal assistance, contact The Law Offices of Elliot Savitz & Scott Bradley. Our experienced attorneys will guide you through the process and help you achieve the best possible outcome. Call us today to schedule a consultation.


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If you are facing criminal charges, call The Law Offices of Elliot Savitz & Scott Bradley, at (781) 974-3429.

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