Restraining Orders in Massachusetts
What is a 209A Restraining Order?In Massachusetts M.G.L. c. 209A sets the standards for obtaining a Restraining Order, also called an Order for Protection from Abuse. M.G.L. c. 209A authorizes the Court to create orders that protect people from abuse has very specific requirements for obtaining a restraining order. If you are seeking a restraining order you must show that you have a "reasonable fear of imminent serious physical harm" from the person you are seeking protection from. If you don't know how to demonstrate this to a Judge then you might not receive the protection that you need. You should consult with an attorney if you are not sure how to demonstrate this standard to the Court.
How long does it take to get a Restraining Order?If you are afraid for your safety and the person who is threatening your safety is close by then you should immediately call the police. Your immediate safety should be your first concern. If you contact the police during a weekday then they will likely settle the immediate danger and advise you to go Court. If you contact the police at any other time, they should assist you in obtaining a Restraining Order from the emergency Judge. If the immediate danger has passed, then you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible, and attend Court to request a Restraining Order by filing a Complaint for Protection from Abuse.
How long does a Restraining Order last?Once you obtain the emergency Restraining Order, the Court will likely set a date for hearing approximately ten (10) days after the date you obtained the order (sometimes only a few days depending on the circumstances). This review hearing is designed to give the Defendant the opportunity to be heard as to their side of the story. If you are afraid of seeing the Defendant in Court then request to speak to a Victim Witness Advocate who will assist you in Court. At the time of the review hearing the Court can extend the Restraining Order for a period of time, usually 6 months or one year; Orders over one year are rare.
Does a 209A Restraining Order show up on a Criminal Record check?If you are served with a Complaint for Protection from Abuse (sometimes referred to as a 209A Restraining Order) then your name and the Complaint are recorded in the Domestic Violence Record Keeping System which is visible to Judges and law enforcement officials (and certain airport personnel) though CARI ( Court Activity Record Information), a subset of CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information).
There is presently no statutory provision in Massachusetts allowing these records to be expunged.