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What are harassment prevention orders in Massachusetts?

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2023 | Domestic Violence

In Massachusetts, victims of domestic violence and harassment can petition the court for one of two different types of restraining orders, including an abuse prevention order against a family member or a harassment prevention order against someone other than a family member.

What are Massachusetts harassment prevention orders?

A harassment prevention order is a type of domestic violence restraining order that can be issued to keep a party from harassing, stalking, or abusing the petitioner. Getting a harassment prevention order can help a victim prevent abuse or harassment by the subject of the order, prevent them from contacting the victim, and keep them from going to the victim’s home or workplace. The court can also order the subject of the order to pay damages to the victim for any losses they have incurred because of the harassment. A harassment prevention order is generally good for one year from the date of issuance, but it can be extended upon a motion filed by the plaintiff when the court finds an extension is warranted. Someone might be served with a harassment prevention order for the following reasons:

• Keep them from stalking the victim

• Prevent them from sexually assaulting or threatening to sexually assault the victim

• Prevent them from engaging in further malicious acts against the victim following a history of engaging in such conduct

How to get a harassment prevention order

A victim can file a complaint with the appropriate court to request a harassment prevention order. The court will not charge filing fees for the complaint. The complainant will need to submit sufficient evidence to the court demonstrating why an order is needed.

If the court issues the order, either party can file a motion requesting a modification while it remains effective. The court will then hear the motion to determine whether it should be granted. Harassment prevention orders can be good tools to end harassment and stalking so that the victims’ safety can be protected.