Is a Restraining Order a Probation Violation in Massachusetts?

Man in orange jumpsuit being placed under arrest by police officer.

In Massachusetts, a restraining order is typically a civil order. However, violating certain terms of a restraining order, such as the no abuse, no contact, stay away from home/work, or surrender firearms requirements, is considered a criminal offense. Violating a restraining order can result in up to 2.5 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, and/or additional probation or other terms as set by the court. If a person on probation violates a restraining order, it can be considered a probation violation, which could lead to a revocation of probation or a modification of probation terms, depending on the severity and the nature of the violation​.

Introduction to Probation and Restraining Orders

Probation in Massachusetts is a court-imposed criminal sentence, a period of supervision over an offender, ordered by the court instead of serving time in jail. Understanding the terms of probation is crucial, as any violation can result in severe consequences. Similarly, restraining orders are legal orders issued by a court to protect individuals from being harmed or harassed. They are civil orders but violating them can result in criminal penalties, especially if you’re on probation. This article serves as a guide to navigating these legal waters.

Probation Department and Officer Roles

The probation department oversees the enforcement of court-ordered probation, working to ensure that probationers adhere to the terms of their release. A probation officer, assigned to supervise and guide probationers, plays a pivotal role in this process. They monitor the probationer’s activities and progress, ensuring compliance with all court mandates, such as avoiding new criminal charges, and maintaining contact with their probation officer.

Violation of Probation:
What it Entails

A violation of probation occurs when a probationer fails to follow the rules set by the court. Common violations include new criminal charges, failure to meet with the probation officer, or failure to complete court-ordered programs like a batterer’s program. A violation can trigger a court hearing, which may lead to additional penalties, including a possible jail sentence.

Restraining Order Violations as Probation Violations

Violating a restraining order is a criminal offense that may also constitute a violation of probation. If a restraining order requires you to refrain from contacting someone and you send them a text message, you’ve not only violated the order but potentially your probation as well. Such order violations are taken seriously and can lead to a full hearing and a potential jail sentence.

Legal Process Following a Restraining Order Violation

When a restraining order violation occurs, the legal process unfolds in several steps. First, an initial probation violation hearing is scheduled. If probable cause is found for the violation, a final probation violation hearing will take place. Here, the court will make a final determination regarding the alleged violation and appropriate consequences.

Understanding the Consequences of
Probation Violation

If found guilty of a probation violation, the consequences can be serious. A court can:

  • impose a suspended sentence,
  • extend the probation period,
  • order a batterer’s program, or
  • enforce a jail sentence.

These decisions depend on the nature of the violation, previous criminal record, and the probationer’s history of compliance.

Defenses Against Alleged Probation Violation

An experienced criminal defense attorney can provide a legal defense for those accused of violating probation. The defense strategy might include showing reasonable doubt about the violation or demonstrating that the terms of probation were unclear. The attorney-client relationship is crucial here, as sensitive information shared can be pivotal for a positive outcome.

The Impact on Your
Criminal Record

A probation violation can adversely affect your criminal record, impacting your:

  • future employment,
  • housing, and
  • educational opportunities.

It’s important to work closely with a criminal defense attorney who understands the full implications of such violations and strives to minimize their impact.

Affordable Legal Help for Probation and Restraining
Order Violations

Navigating probation and restraining order violations require experienced legal help. At Afford Law, we believe in providing quality legal advice with the understanding that financial limitations shouldn’t prevent you from obtaining a full legal defense. Our fees are based on our clients’ income. The less you earn, the less you pay. We also offer free, virtual consultations to discuss how we can help you.

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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