A victim of domestic violence can obtain a restraining order against an abusive party. The order may require the abusive party to stop committing abuse, refrain from contacting the victim, vacate a shared home, and get rid of all weapons and firearms.
Even if a person disagrees with a restraining order, once one has been issued, they are required under law to adhere to it. Failure to follow the provisions of a restraining order can result in serious consequences. Here’s what you should know about the penalties for violating a restraining order in Massachusetts, as well as what you should do if you have been accused of violating an order.
Understanding Civil vs. Criminal Consequences
The first thing to understand about restraining orders is that in most cases, such as in the case of a domestic violence protection order, the order itself is issued by a civil court, not a criminal court. However, if a person breaches a civil order, there can be criminal consequences. Depending upon the circumstances of the case, there could also be civil consequences; for example, a judge may decide to award the other party involved custody of your shared children.
Criminal Consequences for Violating a Restraining Order in MA
If a person violates a 209A restraining order in Massachusetts, the consequences might include:
- 2.5 years in jail;
- A fine of up to $5,000; or/and
- Additional probation or other terms/requirements set by the court.
Of course, violating a restraining order will also show up on your record, and can hinder your ability to get a job or pursue other opportunities as a result.
Defenses to Violating a Restraining Order & How an Attorney Can Help
If you have been accused of violating your restraining order, the first thing that you should do is to make sure that (another) violation doesn’t occur — keep your distance from the victim, don’t make contact, and make sure you don’t have any firearms in your possession. The second thing that you should do is to contact an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney.
Your attorney can help you to explore defenses to the restraining order violation, such as never being served with the restraining order in the first place, accidentally making contact (i.e. bumping into the victim in the grocery store), or that the alleged breach of the order never actually happened.
Call the Law Office of Paul R. Moraski Today
Being accused of breaching a restraining order can be frustrating, especially if you didn’t actually do it or it happened accidentally. More than frustrating, though, breaching a restraining order can have actual legal consequences on your life that are significant. For help defending yourself and understanding your options, call the Massachusetts criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of Paul R. Moraski directly today. You can reach us by phone at (978) 397-0011 or online at your convenience.