What Are True Threats in Massachusetts?

Man using true threats towards a woman in Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts, true threats encompass verbal or written statements that convey a serious intention to commit harm, including physical violence, against an individual or group. These threats must be credible and reasonably interpreted as genuine expressions of intent. The context, manner, and surrounding circumstances are evaluated to determine whether a statement constitutes a true threat, with considerations for factors like the speaker’s demeanor, history, and the recipient’s reaction. Massachusetts law prohibits such threats, and individuals found guilty may face criminal charges and legal consequences.

Defining True Threats

True threats, within the framework of 258E Harassment Prevention Orders, encompass verbal or written statements indicating a serious intention to cause:

  • harm,
  • fear, or
  • distress to another individual.


These statements must be credible and capable of instilling genuine fear in a reasonable person. Whether communicated directly or indirectly, true threats carry significant legal ramifications and are subject to scrutiny in legal proceedings.

Understanding 258E Harassment Prevention Orders

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 258E provides individuals with a legal avenue to seek protection from harassment, including threats of harm. Under this statute, you can petition the court for a Harassment Prevention Order, which prohibits another person from engaging in harassing conduct, including making true threats.

Filing the Application

The process involves applying for the Harassment Prevention Order. In it you’ll describe all the harassing behavior you have suffered. Don’t hold back. The judge needs to see at least 3 separate examples of harassing behavior before the will issue an order.

Ex-Parte Hearing

After filing your paperwork, you’ll have what’s called an ex-parte hearing that same day. Ex-parte simply means one party. That’s because you’ll be the only one addressing the court that day. Your harasser will most likely not be there. You’ll be placed under oath and you’ll tell the judge exactly what’s been going on. If they’re convinced that you need an order right away, they’ll issue a Temporary Harassment Prevention Order.

Temporary Harassment Prevention Order

Your Temporary Harassment Prevention Order will be valid for 10 business days. It has the full force and effect of any other court order during that time. Your harasser will be served with that order by the police department. They will also be notified that there will be a 2-party hearing on the 10th business day.

2-Party Hearing

If you want to extend the order, you need to go back to court for the 2-party hearing. This time your harasser may be present. They have a right to be heard by the judge. Bring all of your evidence and any witnesses you have with you. You need to show the court why you need the order. Your harasser will try to convince the judge that the order is not necessary.

True Threats: Factors and Defense Strategies

In cases involving allegations of true threats within the context of 258E Harassment Prevention Orders, several factors come into play. The court evaluates:

  • the credibility of the alleged threat,
  • the context in which it was made, and
  • its impact on the recipient.


Individuals facing allegations of making true threats may mount defenses such as disputing the interpretation of statements, presenting evidence of lack of intent or misunderstanding, or highlighting mitigating factors.

Legal Ramifications of True Threats in 258E Proceedings

If the court determines that true threats have occurred or are likely to occur, it may issue a 258E Harassment Prevention Order against your harasser. This order may impose restrictions on the individual’s behavior and violation can result in serious legal consequences, including fines, arrest, and criminal charges. It’s crucial to take allegations of true threats seriously and to comply with any court orders issued in connection with 258E proceedings.

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.

Empowering Individuals Through Legal Understanding

In conclusion, understanding true threats and their implications within the legal framework of Massachusetts, especially in the context of 258E Harassment Prevention Orders, is essential for your protection from harassment. With a clear understanding of the law, you can navigate these proceedings with confidence, ensuring your safety and preserving your legal rights. By accessing legal resources and support, you can effectively address allegations of true threats and work towards a resolution that safeguards your well-being and legal interests.

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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