Can You Get in Trouble for Being Around Someone You Have a Restraining Order Against?

Unhappy man and woman together in Massachusetts in violation of a Restraining Order.


If you have a Restraining Order against someone, it typically requires the person restrained to stay a certain distance away from you and avoid contacting you. If you willingly spend time around this person, you might not necessarily be in legal trouble yourself, but you could be undermining the Order’s effectiveness. This can complicate legal matters, as it may appear that the protection is no longer necessary. Additionally, the court might question the credibility of the need for the order if you are choosing to be around the person. This could come into play if you seek to extend the Order. Your abuser/harasser could argue that since you spent time with them, you are no longer in fear of them.

Navigating the Legal Landscape of Restraining Orders: A Comprehensive Guide

Restraining Orders serve as critical legal tools designed to protect you from various forms of abuse, harassment, and imminent threats. Understanding the different types of Restraining Orders, the responsibilities they entail, and the legal proceedings involved is essential for anyone seeking protection or faced with such legal matters. This guide will help you navigate these complex waters with confidence.

What is a Restraining Order?

A Restraining Order, or protective order, is a legal decree issued by a court to protect you from imminent danger or harassment by restricting or limiting the behavior of another individual. These orders are crucial in scenarios involving domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and other forms of abuse or harassment. They are designed to prevent further abuse or harassment by legally prohibiting your abuser/harasser from contacting or coming near you.

Types of Restraining Orders

  • Abuse Prevention Order: This type of order is common in cases involving domestic violence among family members or intimate partners.

 

  • Harassment Prevention Order: Applicable when the offender is not a household member but has committed acts like stalking or harassment.

 

  • Temporary Restraining Order (TRO): A short-term protection issued swiftly by the court to provide immediate safety until a full court hearing can be conducted.

 

  • Permanent Restraining Order: A long-term solution that requires a formal court hearing with both parties present and can last several years based on the judgment. These are rare.

Filing for a Restraining Order: The First Step

To file for a Restraining Order, you need to complete an application form available at your court. This form requires detailed information about you and your abuser/harasser, including descriptions of recent incidents of violence or threats. You’ll be required to provide sensitive information. There is no filing fee for a Restraining Order.

The Court Process for Obtaining a Restraining Order

Once the application is filed, the court will hold a hearing immediately. This is called an ex-parte hearing, meaning you’re the only party that will be testifying. If the judge is convinced you need immediate protection, they will issue a Temporary Restraining Order. This TRO will be valid for 10 business days. To extend the Order past that time, you need to attend a 2-party hearing.

2-Party Hearing

At your 2-party hearing, both and your abuser/harasser have the opportunity to present your cases. Evidence such as:

  • medical records,
  • witness testimonies,
  • police reports, and
  • other documentation will be crucial.

The judge will decide based on the “preponderance of the evidence” whether a Restraining Order is necessary and what terms it should include. Preponderance of the evidence simply means that the judge has to think it is more likely than not that you’ve suffered abuse or harassment.

Responsibilities of the
Protected Party

As the holder of the Restraining Order, you’re under no legal obligation to change your behavior. It is not a violation of the Order for you to contact your abuse/harasser. Engaging willingly with your abuser/harasser can undermine the Order’s validity, however, and lead to legal complications, possibly resulting in the order’s dismissal or non-renewal. It’s wiser for you to not contact your abuser/harasser.

Understanding Mutual Restraining Orders

Mutual Restraining Orders are issued when both parties allege threats or abuse against each other, and the court finds both claims require the need for protection. These orders require both individuals to avoid any form of contact, making adherence doubly important due to the increased potential for legal repercussions on both sides.

How to Handle Violations

Violations of Restraining Orders are severe offenses that can lead to:

  • arrest,
  • criminal charges, and
  • even jail time for the offender.

 

It’s essential for you to report any breach of the order immediately to law enforcement officers. Keeping a record of all incidents, including:

  • dates,
  • times, and
  • descriptions,

along with any possible evidence such as screenshots of messages or eyewitness accounts, is crucial for legal actions.

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.

Empowerment Through
Legal Protection

Understanding and effectively managing a Restraining Order requires knowledge of legal rights and responsibilities, as well as the proactive use of legal and community resources. By staying informed and prepared, individuals facing domestic violence situations or harassment can navigate the court system to ensure your safety and uphold your rights under the law.

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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