Can You Call the Cops If Someone is Harassing You in Massachusetts?

Woman talking to police officer about harassment in Massachusetts.

Yes, you can call the police if someone is harassing you in Massachusetts. Harassment is taken seriously and can be reported by contacting local law enforcement. Additionally, Massachusetts law provides for the possibility of obtaining a Harassment Prevention Order under General Laws Chapter 258E, which can be requested at your local court. This order can help protect individuals from harassment, stalking, and sexual assault by ordering the harasser to stop the behavior and stay away from the victim. If you feel threatened or repeatedly harassed, contacting the police is an appropriate and recommended step.

The Fundamentals of Harassment Under Massachusetts Law

In Massachusetts, harassment can escalate from a troubling annoyance to a serious criminal offense. Understanding your legal rights and the remedies available is crucial, especially when facing harassment that disrupts your peace or poses a threat to your safety. This article offers detailed instructions on navigating the legal landscape of harassment in Massachusetts, with practical advice for obtaining affordable legal help.

What Constitutes Harassment?

Defining Harassment and Recognizing Criminal Offenses

Harassment in Massachusetts encompasses a range of behaviors, from repeated text messages and obscene telephone calls to more severe actions like stalking or sexual harassment. The state law defines criminal harassment as a pattern of conduct or series of acts over time that seriously alarms a person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress.

Recognizing the Seriousness of E-Harassment

Electronic communication, including:

  • emails,
  • social media interactions, and
  • electronic messages,

are increasingly common mediums for harassment. These actions can also lead to criminal charges if they involve:

  • threats,
  • harassment of a sexual nature, or
  • if the sole purpose is to annoy or alarm the individual.

Legal Protections
Against Harassment

Obtaining a Harassment Prevention Order (HPO)

Massachusetts law provides victims of harassment the ability to apply for a Harassment Prevention Order, which is a type of court order that can be issued quickly through the:

  • Superior Court,
  • Juvenile Court,
  • District Court or
  • Boston Municipal Court.

This order requires the harasser to cease their behavior and can provide other protections, such as staying away from your workplace or home.

The Role of Restraining and Abuse Prevention Orders

In cases involving family members or intimate partners, victims might also consider seeking an Abuse Prevention Order. These are protective orders specifically designed to prevent domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault, offering a broader scope of protection compared to general harassment prevention orders.

How to Report Harassment to the Police

Contacting Local Law Enforcement Officers

If you are experiencing harassment, contacting your local police department is a critical first step. Provide officers with all necessary information, including:

  • any known contact information of the harasser,
  • the time and location of the calls or messages, and
  • a detailed account of the harassment.

This initial report can lead to a criminal complaint and is essential for legal proceedings.

The Importance of Documenting Harassment

Keeping a record of all incidents, including saving text messages, emails, and logging dates and times of incidents, is crucial. This documentation can support your case in court and is often necessary for obtaining a harassment order.

The Legal Process and
Court Hearings

From Criminal Complaint to Court Hearing

Once a criminal complaint is filed, the case may proceed to a pre-trial conference and potentially to a jury trial. During these stages, having a criminal defense attorney can be invaluable. Attorneys can help navigate the complexities of the legal process, advocate on your behalf, and aim to achieve the best possible outcome.

Understanding the Court System

Familiarize yourself with the local court system, whether it’s the Superior Court, Juvenile Court, District Court or the Boston Municipal Court, where your harassment case will be heard. Court staff can often provide some guidance and explain the process, but they cannot give legal advice.

Empowering Yourself Through Legal Knowledge

Understanding your rights and the legal avenues available is empowering and can be crucial in effectively handling harassment. No one should have to endure harassment silently, and Massachusetts law provides mechanisms to protect and help you.

Help Getting a Restraining Order in Massachusetts

If you’d like help getting a Restraining Order without paying an expensive attorney, we can help. With our Legal Coaching we can walk you through every step to make sure you’re ready for your hearing. The first thing to do is see if you qualify for a Massachusetts Restraining Order. Click on the link below to see if you qualify for either type of Restraining Order.

Legal Disclaimer

This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult with an attorney to discuss your specific circumstances and receive tailored guidance.

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