Violating a restraining order, or 209a order, in Massachusetts is a misdemeanor crime. Anyone convicted of violating a Massachusetts restraining order can face up to two and a half years in jail.
Every District Attorney’s office in Massachusetts takes restraining order violation cases very seriously. Some counties have special prosecutors who only handle domestic violence cases. Anyone charged with violating a restraining order should call Massachusetts restraining order Attorney Patrick Donovan. Attorney Donovan has successfully helped many clients fight the restraining order violation charges.
What is a Restraining Order Violation?
In order to be found guilty of a restraining order violation in Massachusetts the prosecution must prove three separate elements. Because this is a criminal charge everything the prosecutor must prove everything “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The prosecution must prove
- There was a valid 209a order in place at the time of the incident
- The Defendant had knowledge of the order
- The Defendant violated the order
The first element the prosecutor must prove is that a was a valid order in effect at the time of the alleged violation. No one can be convicted of a restraining order violation unless the order was valid when the violation happened.
Second, the prosecutor must prove the defendant knew about the order. After a judge issues a 209a order the police must serve the Defendant with a copy. Massachusetts law requires that the law enforcement agency must make a “conscientious and reasonable effort to serve” notice of the defendant. If the prosecutor can prove actual knowledge or fair notice of the order, then they don’t need to show the Defendant was served.
Finally, the prosecution must prove the defendant violated the order. The prosecutor does not have to show the Defendant intended to violate the restraining order. Also, the prosecution does not need to show the victim was in fear. Any contact that is not accidental or incidental is a violation of a 209a order. Also, it’s a violation when a third party contacts the victim on behalf of the victim.
What are the penalties for Violating A Restraining Order in Massachusetts?
Anyone convicted of a restraining order violation in Massachusetts faces up to two and a half years in the house of correction. Also, in cases that resolve in a plea, like a continuation without a finding a judge must sentence the Defendant to a certified batter’s program or make written findings why they didn’t.
Massachusetts Criminal Attorney
Patrick Donovan is a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer who has fought for many people charged with violating a restraining order. Attorney Donovan is a former prosecutor. Call today for a free consultation.