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Harassment

 The harassment prevention law, commonly called Chapter 258E , is there to protect you against someone who is harassing, stalking or sexually assaulting you, no matter what your relationship with them might be.

Getting a Harassment Prevention Order

Harassment prevention orders aren’t limited to specific types of relationships.

 

You can ask for a Harassment Prevention Order (a “258E Order) from a judge if you’re suffering from harassment because someone has committed 3 or more acts:

        • That were willful and malicious. This means it was done on purpose and was done for cruelty, hostility or revenge
        • Were aimed at you.
        • Were intended to cause you fear, intimidation, abuse, or damage to property. “Abuse” means causing or attempting to cause physical harm, or causing fear of imminent serious physical harm.
        • Did in fact cause you fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property

or

 

        • Someone has forced you to have sex or threatened you into having sex at least once

or

 

Someone has committed 1 of these crimes against you at least once:

        • Indecent assault and battery
        • Rape
        • Statutory rape
        • Assault with intent to rape
        • Enticement of a child
        • Criminal stalking
        • Criminal harassment
        • Drugging for sexual intercourse

You can request that the defendant be ordered not to abuse or harass you. This means that the defendant won’t:

        • Physically assault or threaten you

        • Do anything that makes you reasonably fear that the defendant might cause you physical harm

        • Use force or a threat of any kind to make you have sex unwillingly 

        • Commit any act against you that would be one of the crimes listed above

You can request that the defendant be ordered to have no contact with you. This means that the defendant:

        • Must stay a specific number of feet/yards away from you. The distance that the defendant must remain away from you is listed on the order.

        • Can’t contact you in any way. This includes, but isn’t limited to, phone calls, text messages, emails, gifts and contact through friends, relatives, neighbors or anyone else, sending or posting messages on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site, unless specifically allowed in the order.

        • Leave a place as quickly as possible if you’re already at a place and the defendant comes to that same location

        • You can request that the defendant be ordered to stay away from your work. This means the defendant:

        • Must stay away from the place where you work as long as the order is in effect, even if you aren’t there at the time

You can request that the defendant be ordered to pay certain money. This means the defendant:

Can be ordered to pay for costs related to the harassment, such as medical bills, lost wages, or money for the cost of changing locks

 

You can request that your home, work, and/or school address not appear on the order. This means:

If the defendant doesn’t know your current home, work or school address(s), you can request that these addresses be kept confidential. This information would only be available to the court, the police, the district attorney, or others specifically allowed by you or the court. In all cases, this information isn’t available to the public.

 

Can I request a harassment prevention order without telling the defendant?

The court may issue a harassment prevention order without the defendant having notice if there’s a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of harassment. This is called anex parte order. You’ll file a complaint form that includes an affidavit (described below), and a hearing is held right away without letting the defendant know. You’ll either speak to the judge in person or, if there isn’t a judge in the courthouse when you’re there, by phone. The court can issue an ex parte order that can last up to 10 business days. The court will schedule a hearing within 10 business days and then notify the defendant about the ex parte order. The defendant has a right to attend that hearing to argue that all or part of the order should not be continued. At that hearing, often referred to as the 10-day hearing, the judge will hear from you and the defendant, if the defendant appears.

 

The judge may also decide not to issue an ex parte order at that time. If the judge doesn’t think that there is a basis to grant a harassment prevention order, the request will be denied. If the judge thinks that there isn’t a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse, the request may be put off, and a hearing will be set up at a later time. The defendant will be given notice of that hearing and have the right to attend that hearing. At this hearing, both you and the defendant will have the right to tell the court why a harassment prevention order should or shouldn’t issue. If the judge doesn’t issue an ex parte order but wants to set up a hearing where the defendant will be present, you may decide not to go forward with your complaint and ask that the hearing not be scheduled.

 

How long does the order last?

The first order you get, if the defendant isn’t present, is only good until you have a court hearing where the defendant has an opportunity to tell their side of the story. This is scheduled within 10 business days, so it’s commonly called a 10-day hearing, but it may be in less than 10 days. The judge will tell you when this hearing will be held when they issue the first order. The date of this hearing will also be on the order.

 

If you get an emergency order when the court isn’t in session from a judge over the phone and the defendant is also arrested, the defendant might be at the same court where you go to get the order extended. In that case, the judge will hold a hearing with both you and the defendant present and may grant an order for up to a year.

 

What if I want to change or end the order?

A harassment prevention order is a court order. That means that only a judge can change the order. The person who requested the order can’t change or end the order without going back to court. Even if the plaintiff seems to request or allow conduct forbidden by the order, the defendant will be in violation of the harassment prevention order unless a judge has changed it.

 

If you want to change or end the order, you can go to the same court that issued the order Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. to ask the judge to change or end the order. The clerk’s office can help you file documents to make this request.

 

If you want to renew the order, you’ll need to go back to court on the return/expiration date on the order, and ask for the order to be renewed, otherwise the order will expire.

You’ll need to call your local district court to provide the required information to file:

        • G.L. c. 258E (Harassment Prevention Order) Application Forms: This package of forms includes instructions to plaintiffs, the complaint, the affidavit, the plaintiff confidential information form, and the defendant information form. Do not email these forms to the court without calling first; emailed applications will not start the application process.

The Mendon Police Department falls under the jurisdiction of the:
Milford District Court at 161 West Street, Milford, Massachusetts

Resources if You are being abused or harassed

  • Resource Guide (G.L.c. 209A and c. 258E) — a region-specific listing of advocacy services information for individuals seeking abuse prevention orders (209A) and, in appropriate cases, harassment prevention orders (258E), and may consider utilizing these services to facilitate contact regarding the next scheduled court hearing.
  • HelpSteps.com Free web and app based system that connects you to services to help. This service is free and confidential.
  • Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance (MOVA)  If you need help requesting an abuse prevention order, MOVA offers a program called SAFEPLAN that provides people to help you in many courts across the state.
  • Court Advocates — There are other programs in some courts that provide people who can help you fill out the forms and go with you to the courtroom. In some cases, the advocate is from the local domestic violence service provider. In other cases, District Attorney Office victim-witness advocates help people file for a 209A order. You can find a list of domestic violence service providers at Jane Doe, Inc. People at these organizations can tell you if they have court advocates or if not, how to reach a court advocate.
  • SAFELINK — If you need help immediately for safety planning or shelter, call the SAFELINK hotline at 1(877) 785-2020. They can help you find a domestic violence program or shelter near you.
  • Resource Guide (G.L.c. 209A and c. 258E) — a region-specific listing of advocacy services information for individuals seeking abuse prevention orders (209A) and, in appropriate cases, harassment prevention orders (258E), and may consider utilizing these services to facilitate contact regarding the next scheduled court hearing.
  • Mendon Police — You don’t have to call the us, but it’s important for you to know you can call them if you feel you need their protection, especially in emergencies.
  • Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) — MOVA coordinates the SAFEPLAN programs on a statewide basis. SAFEPLAN is a court-based program that provides advocates to help victims of sexual assault and stalking who want a harassment prevention order. SAFEPLAN advocates are available in 41 District Courts and Probate & Family Courts across the state. The services they provide to victims are free. SAFEPLAN advocates can help victims of sexual assault or stalking get a 258E order or go with you to a harassment prevention order hearing. 
  • Jane Doe, Inc. — Jane Doe, Inc. is the statewide coalition against sexual assault and domestic violence. Their website includes information for victims of sexual and domestic violence and stalking.
  • Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) — BARCC runs a 24/7 toll-free hotline: (800) 841-8371.
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline — 1(800) 656-HOPE connects callers directly to local crisis centers.
  • Victim Rights Law Center — The Victim Rights Law Center (VRLC) provides free, comprehensive legal services for rape and sexual assault survivors in areas of their lives that are affected by the rape or sexual assault. The VRLC can assist survivors who are living in or were assaulted in Massachusetts. This includes adults and children; people of all abilities, gender identities, and sexual orientations and immigrants, refugees, and undocumented persons, regardless of immigration status. The VRLC provides representation in the areas of privacy, safety, housing, education, employment, immigration, criminal justice advocacy, and financial stability. The VRLC does not offer representation in family law matters or matters out of the Probate and Family Court.
    • Central and Southeast MA: 508- 669-7020
      • Spanish: 508-669-7020 x35

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