Apply for a protection order

Cambridge Police

209A Abuse Prevention Orders v. 258E Harassment Prevention Orders

Abuse Prevention Orders are more commonly known restraining orders (RO) and are available to protect a person who is in fear of physical abuse, experiencing physical abuse, and/or has been forced to engage in sexual relations by a current or former spouse, partner, family member, or live in roommate.

You can file for an Abuse Prevention Order at your local district court. If you plan on requesting custody of children or you have outstanding cases with your local probate and family court, you may file for an Abuse prevention order there.

Harassment Prevention Orders (HPO) are available to protect you against someone who is harassing, stalking, or sexually assaulting you, no matter what your relationship might be. You can file an HPO application at your local district court. 

Find more information about abuse and harassment prevention orders on mass.gov by clicking this link: https://www.mass.gov/topics/abuse-harassment-court-orders

Orders that can be issued by the Court on a Protection Order

  1. No abuse
    The defendant (person determined to be the abuser) must refrain from physically abusing you, threatening physical harm, attempting physical harm, and/or forcing you to engage in sexual relations.
  2. No contact
    The defendant can be ordered not to contact you in person, over the phone, by text or by email, through a third party, or by any other means of communication.
  3. To leave and stay away from residence
    If you and the defendant share the same residence, the defendant can be ordered to leave the residence regardless of who pays the bills or who is on the mortgage/lease.
  4. To stay away from your work and/or school
    The defendant must stay away from your school or workplace
  5. No contact with minor children in your care
    The defendant cannot contact minor children
  6. Custody of children
    You may request temporary custody of minor children in your care
  7. Surrender all guns and other weapons to the police
    The defendant must surrender all guns, ammunition, and gun licenses/identification cards to the police
  8. Address confidentiality
    You may request that your address stay confidential within the court so that your abuser cannot find it on any court paperwork

Important Facts about Protection Orders

  1. Protection orders are civil court orders. This issuance of a protection order does not result in a criminal record or criminal charges. However, violation of a protection order is a criminal offense and can result in the prosecution of the defendant.
  2. Unless you would prefer hiring a lawyer, you do not need a lawyer in order to file for a protection order, nor do you need a lawyer for protective order hearing.
  3. There is NO cost to file for a protection order.
  4. A protection order can be modified or terminated at any time after it is granted. To modify or terminate the protection order you should appear at the court where it was granted to file a motion to modify or terminate the order. Only a judge can modify or terminate a protection order. These requests are therefore subject to a hearing.
  5. It is important to keep a copy of your protective order on you at all times. It may also be a good idea to keep a copy at work, in your car, or on your phone to ensure that you will always have a copy available.
  6. If the court is closed you can go to the police department to request help with filing an temporary emergency application.  
 

3D. What to expect when filing for a protective order:

How do I file for a protective order?

You must go to the Clerk’s Office at your local district court or county probate and family court to fill out the application. The application requires you to complete an affidavit (written statement) that explains why you are asking for the protection order. Many district courthouses have victim witness advocates who can assist you with filing the application. Ask a clerk to direct you to the victim witness advocate office, if possible.

What happens after I file for a protection order?

On the day you file, you will appear in front of a judge who decides whether to grant you a temporary protection order. This order will be valid for up to ten days. A court date will be set for an extension hearing. The ten day extension hearing is when the judge decides if the order will be extended for a longer period of time. Between being granted the temporary order and the ten day extension hearing, the order is in full effect and the defendant’s police department is responsible for serving the protection order to the defendant and notifying them of all the orders granted by the court.

Who is the defendant?

The defendant is the person who the protection order is against.

Who is the plaintiff?

The plaintiff is the person seeking protection from abuse and/or harassment.

What happens if the plaintiff/defendant does not go to the Ten Day Extension Hearing?

The protection order will terminate if the plaintiff does not go to the ten day extension hearing. If the defendant has been served with the protection order by the police and does not appear at the ten day extension hearing, a judge may extend the order for 1 year because there has been notice. However, if the defendant does not appear and there is no proof of notice/service of the protection order, a judge can only extend the protection order for an additional 10 days when another ten day extension hearing will be scheduled.

Why must the defendant be notified about the order?

The defendant has the right to contest the order at the ten day hearing. The police must serve him or her with the protection order that notifies them about that court date. If you are interested in knowing if the order has been served, you may call the court or the police department response for service. If the police are unable to serve the defendant within the ten day period, the judge will likely set a new court date to give police more time to locate and serve the order.

What should I expect at the Ten Day Extension Hearing?

You may bring a lawyer if you wish, however it is not necessary. You may also bring a friend or advocate for support. Although physical evidence is not necessary to corroborate what you wrote in the application, you may bring documents, pictures, or available witnesses. Primarily, the Judge will be considering your verbal testimony and may decide whether to consider any additional documents, witnesses, or evidence provided by either party. The defendant has the right to be present and dispute the extension of the protection order, but their attendance is not required. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Judge decides whether to extend the order.

If the judge decides to extend the protection order, it is usually extended for up to a 1 year period. A one year extension hearing date will be scheduled immediately and will be written on the protection order. It is important to mark the next extension hearing date on your calendar because the court will not remind you of the next date.

What should I expect at the One Year Extension Hearing?

The procedure for a one year extension hearing is similar to the ten day extension hearing.

You may bring a lawyer if you wish, however it is not necessary. You may also bring a friend or advocate for support. Although physical evidence is not necessary to corroborate what you wrote in the application, you may bring documents, pictures, or available witnesses. Primarily, the Judge will be considering your verbal testimony and may decide whether to consider any additional documents, witnesses, or evidence provided by either party. The defendant has the right to be present and dispute the extension of the protection order, but their attendance is not required. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Judge decides whether to extend the order.

If the judge decides to extend the protection order, it is usually extended for up to a 1 year period. You may request a longer(3-5 years) or permanent extension at the one year extension hearing date. A new extension date will be scheduled immediately and will be written on the protection order. It is important to mark the next extension hearing date on your calendar because the court will not remind you of the next date.

Page was last modified on 5/25/2022 4:12 PM
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