What Is Considered a Violation of a Restraining Order in Massachusetts?

Woman being stalked b man in violation of a Massachusetts Restraining Order.

In Massachusetts, a violation of a Restraining Order occurs when an individual fails to comply with the terms specified in the order. This can include contacting or approaching the protected person, visiting their home, school, or workplace, or engaging in other behaviors prohibited by the order. Violations can also involve indirect contact, such as sending messages through third parties. When a Restraining Order is violated, it is considered a criminal offense, and the violator may be arrested, charged, and, if convicted, face penalties including fines and imprisonment.

Understanding Restraining Orders

What is a Restraining Order?

In Massachusetts, a Restraining Order is a civil order issued by the court to protect individuals from further harm or harassment by an abusive person. There are two main types of Restraining Orders:

  • the 209A Abuse Prevention Order, related to domestic violence and protecting family members or household members, and
  • the 258E Harassment Prevention Order, aimed at preventing stalking, sexual assault, and severe harassment from anyone, not just someone you share a relationship with.

Key Terms of a Restraining Order

The terms of Restraining Orders in Massachusetts are designed to provide maximum protection to you, often including provisions such as:

  • no contact directly or via phone call or text message,
  • exclusion from your residence or place of work, and
  • prohibitions against owning firearms.

Violations of any terms are taken seriously and can lead to significant legal consequences for the abuser.

Consequences of a Restraining Order Violation

Criminal Implications of Violations

Violating a Restraining Order is a criminal offense that can lead to arrest and a criminal complaint being filed in the District Court or Boston Municipal Court, depending on the locality. Consequences may include:

  • jail time,
  • a fine, and
  • being recorded on a criminal record, which can impact one’s life significantly.

Severity of Legal Penalties

The penalties for a Restraining Order violation can be severe. In Massachusetts, a violation can result in a sentence to the House of Corrections, fines, and mandatory participation in intervention programs. Each act of violation, such as:

  • sending an email,
  • making a phone call, or
  • even using a third party to contact you,

can be treated as a separate offense, compounding the severity of the legal consequences.

Legal Protection
and Enforcement

Law Enforcement’s Role

Local police departments are trained to respond swiftly to reports of Restraining Order violations. Upon a report, officers are required to arrest the violator if there is probable cause to believe the Order has been violated, ensuring quick action to protect you.

Collaborating with the District Attorney’s Office

You have the right to work closely with the Assistant District Attorney in your county. The District Attorney’s office plays a crucial role in:

  • prosecuting Restraining Order violations,
  • providing legal advice, and
  • guiding you through the criminal case process.

If You're a Victim

Immediate Steps to Report a Violation

If you suspect a violation of your Restraining Order, the first thing to do is contact your local police department. Providing details such as the

  • time of the alleged violation,
  • type of contact, and
  • any evidence like text messages can be crucial.

Building a Support Network

For victims feeling overwhelmed by the legal process, reaching out to local support groups can be beneficial. These organizations offer guidance, emotional support, and can help navigate the complexities of dealing with court orders and law enforcement.

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.


For victims of abuse in Massachusetts, understanding the details and implications of a Restraining Order is vital. Remember, the law is there to protect you, and there are numerous resources and legal aids designed to help you navigate this challenging time and uphold your rights.

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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