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Hinman Law Blog

Domestic Violence/Restraining Orders

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence includes physical harm or abuse, attempt to cause physical harm, or causing fear of imminent threat of physical harm to a domestic partner or household member. This includes husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, people living together or related by blood or marriage, ex-spouses or partners, or people who have children together. Domestic violence is not tolerated by law enforcement, and if charged with a domestic crime, you may be facing a restraining order, custody issues, and incarceration. In Massachusetts, police officers investigating domestic violence are obligated to arrest anyone accused of committing a domestic crime. Even if the alleged victim recants their accusation or refuses to testify, the state can still proceed with prosecution.

Restraining Orders/Violation of Restraining Orders

In Massachusetts, anyone can apply for a civil restraining order against a domestic or household partner. The plaintiff or applicant fills out an application and an accompanying affidavit in support of his/her request. Both parties will have an opportunity to argue their position during a hearing before a judge. The presiding judge, after hearing from both parties, will decide whether or not to issue the restraining order. The restraining order will be issued if the judge finds any one of the following:

  1. That there has been physical harm, or an attempt to cause physical harm against the applicant;
  2. That the applicant has been placed in fear of imminent bodily harm;
  3. That the applicant has involuntarily engaged in sexual relations by force, threats, or duress.

It is extremely important to have a criminal lawyer representing you at a restraining order hearing. Often, there is a great deal of personal history between you and the applicant, and it is wise to have a calm and articulate attorney who will make sound legal arguments, rather than arguments driven by emotion. If a restraining order is issued against you, you may have to move out of your residence, and you will be required by law to stay over 100 feet from the plaintiff. You will also be required to give up any firearms. The restraining order will show up on your criminal record.

To be convicted of violating a restraining order, the prosecution must prove that you violated the terms of the restraining order, and that you did so while knowing that the order was in place. A restraining order can be violated by direct or indirect contact. For example, if you are required to stay away from the plaintiff’s place of work, having a third party deliver a letter to the plantiff would be a violation of the order. Likewise, any contact via the internet, telephone, Facebook, or text message is considered a violation of a no-contact order.

If you have been charged with a domestic crime, or need legal assistance at a restraining order hearing anywhere in Middlesex, Suffolk, or Norfolk County, contact Attorney Hinman for immediate help at 617-283-4480, or using the form to the left.