Is a No-Contact Order the Same As a Restraining Order in Massachusetts?

Woman holding her her hand up to keep her abuser away in Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts, a “no contact order” and a “restraining order” refer to similar types of protective orders, but they are used in different contexts. A “no contact order” is often issued in criminal cases and specifically prohibits the defendant from contacting the victim. This can include in-person contact, phone calls, emails, or any form of communication.

A “restraining order,” could be a 209A Protective Order or a 258E Harassment Prevention Order, is a civil order that provides broader protection. It not only prohibits contact but can also include stipulations such as staying away from the victim’s home or workplace and not possessing firearms. The restraining order is primarily used in cases of domestic violence, stalking, or harassment.

Thus, while both orders serve to protect individuals from harm by preventing contact, their usage and scope differ based on the legal context and specific needs of the situation.

Types of Protective Orders

No-Contact Order

A contact order is generally issued in criminal cases, specifically barring the defendant from making any communication with you. This includes direct or indirect methods such as:

  • phone calls,
  • text messages, or
  • emails.

Abuse Prevention Order (209A Order)

This civil order is used primarily in situations involving family members or household members where there has been domestic violence or a threat thereof. The restraining order can also include conditions like temporary custody of a minor child or prohibition of firearm possession.

Harassment Prevention Order (258E Order)

When the issue does not involve a family or household member but there is substantial harassment, a Harassment Prevention Order can be sought. This order is applicable in situations of repeated acts which cause fear, intimidation, or physical harm to the individual.

Legal Process and
Courts Involved

Filing a Complaint

Whether seeking a Harassment Prevention Order or an Abuse Prevention Order, the process begins at your local court. You must fill out an application form detailing the reasons for requesting the order.

Temporary Orders and Hearings

Initially, a temporary order can be granted ex parte (without the other party present) if there is an immediate danger. A full hearing, typically scheduled within 10 business days, will then determine if the order should be extended.

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.

Court Orders and
Criminal Charges

Impact on the Accused

If someone is accused of violating a protective order, it can lead to criminal charges, which might include jail time. A violation can escalate the severity of the situation, affecting the accused’s criminal record and leading to further legal consequences.

Violations of Orders

If your abuser/harasser violates any one of these orders, you should call the police immediately. Keep any evidence of their violation such as:

  • text messages,
  • voicemail messages, or
  • videos.

Police Reports and Evidence

Maintaining a copy of the order and any evidence of violations (like phone records or witnesses) is crucial for both enforcement and legal proceedings in family court or criminal court.

Understanding Legal Terminology and Rights

Temporary Restraining Order vs. Harassment Order

It’s important to understand the differences in these terms. A Temporary Restraining Order is a short-term measure granted until the court hearing, whereas a harassment order deals specifically with cases of harassment not involving a family or household member.

Rights Under the Order

Both you and your abuser/harasser have specific rights under the order. For instance, your abuser/harasser has the right to a hearing and to present their side of the story, while you can seek an extension of the order if needed.

Extensions, Modifications, and Legal Outcomes

Extension of Orders

Most protective orders are temporary and need renewal. During a full hearing, the court will consider evidence from both parties before deciding on an extension or modification of the order. Generally, Restraining Orders are extended for a one-year period.

Legal Consequences of Violations

Violating a protective order is a serious offense in Massachusetts, potentially resulting in criminal penalties including jail time. The severity of the violation and the circumstances will influence the court’s decision.

Key Considerations and
Support Resources

Victim Support and Advocacy

Numerous resources are available for victims of abuse, including victim advocates and support groups. These organizations can provide emotional support and guidance through the legal process.

Maintaining Safety and Legal Compliance:

For individuals under a protective order, it is vital to understand the terms and ensure compliance. For those seeking protection, knowing how to effectively communicate the situation to the court is crucial for obtaining the necessary legal protection.

Conclusion

Understanding the various types of protective orders in Massachusetts and the processes involved is crucial for anyone facing these serious situations. Knowing your legal rights and the resources available can provide a measure of security and control over the outcome of your case.

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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