Does a Restraining Order Show Up on a Background Check in Massachusetts?

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In Massachusetts, a restraining order may appear on a background check, as they are generally considered public records. The visibility of a restraining order on a background check can depend on the thoroughness of the check and the type (civil or criminal) of the restraining order issued. Background checks that include court records will likely reveal both current and past restraining orders.

The Basics of Restraining Orders

Understanding Different Types

Restraining orders, such as abuse prevention orders and harassment prevention orders, are designed to protect individuals from harm. They can be issued in various circumstances, ranging from family court matters to harassment by non-household members.

Temporary vs. Permanent Orders

Temporary restraining orders offer immediate, short-term protection and may precede permanent orders. Understanding the terms and duration of these orders is crucial, as they carry different consequences for the individuals involved.

Restraining Orders and Your Criminal Record

Criminal Charges and Restraining Orders

While restraining orders themselves are not criminal charges, they can be associated with criminal offenses if they stem from incidents involving violence or threats. It’s important to know how this association can reflect on your criminal record.

Although a restraining order is civil in nature, the violation of that order is a criminal matter. That means if someone does something that the restraining order prohibits, they can be charged with a crime and that, of course, does appear on your criminal record.

Impact on Security Clearance
and Employment Opportunities

A restraining order could influence your eligibility for jobs requiring a security clearance or positions within law enforcement agencies, which usually involve thorough background checks.

Public Record and Court Orders

Accessing Court Records

Massachusetts courts maintain records of all court activity, making restraining orders typically a matter of public record. These records can be accessed by anyone with standard access to court databases.

How Public Records Affect You

This public availability means that restraining orders may appear on general criminal background checks, which can be a common concern for potential employers or educational institutions.

Legal Proceedings and Restraining Orders

Temporary Restraining Orders

If the court is convinced that you need protection right away, they will issue a Temporary Restraining Order. This Order is in place for 10 business days. In order to get the Temporary Restraining Order extended, you need to go back to court for a 2-party hearing.

2-Party Hearing

At your 2-party hearing both you and your abuser/harasser have a chance to address the court. It can be very intimidating testifying in front of them. As best you can, try to stay calm. Bring all your evidence and witnesses. It’s a good idea to write out exactly what you want to say to the judge, in case you get flustered. If the judge agrees with you, your Order can be extended for up to one year.

After the Court Date

Post-hearing actions can vary. A permanent order may be issued, or a temporary order might expire. Sometimes, the person seeking the order doesn’t show up for the two-party hearing. Without them, the order usually expires at the end of the business day.

Law Enforcement's Role

Immediate and Long-term Actions

Law enforcement officers play a vital role in the enforcement of restraining orders, from the moment of issuance to ensuring compliance over time. When an order is issued by the Court, that Order is served on the defendant by the police. If you need a Restraining Order when the courts are not open, you can go to your local police department and request an emergency order.

Restraining Order Violations

Violating the terms of a restraining order is a criminal matter, and it’s a good idea to understand the consequences, which can lead to criminal charges and further legal issues. A violation of a Restraining Order carries a maximum jail sentence of two and a half years at the House of Corrections.

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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