Chapter 258E Harassment Prevention Order in Massachusetts

The harassment prevention law in Massachusetts protects against harassment, stalking, or even sexual assault. It is a restraining order, or protective order, that the court can issue against a defendant accused of harassment. You can file a harassment prevention order in Massachusetts regardless of what your relationship is to the defendant.


What Is Chapter 258E?

Chapter 258E allow plaintiffs to file a restraining order or protective order against a defendant who has harassed them. In order to get a court order protecting you against harassment, you will have to prove that the defendant harassed you. In Massachusetts, harassment is defined as malicious misconduct aimed at the plaintiff with the intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse, or damage.

There are two types of restraining orders in Massachusetts: Chapter 258E and Chapter 209A. Chapter 209A is for abuse prevention restraining orders. Chapter 258E pertains to harassment and is also known as a civil harassment restraining order.

How to File Harassment Charges in Massachusetts

To request a harassment prevention order in Massachusetts, you will need to complete a 258E application form that includes the complaint, affidavit, confidential information form, and defendant information form. There is also a separate petition relative to domesticated animals for any requested prevention orders regarding pets. At this first stage, you should contact an experienced attorney to guide you through the legal process. They can also ensure that you are providing the best information on your application.

Initial Hearing

After completing the initial 258E application, court staff can check to see if the defendant has any police warrants, restraining orders, or past criminal record. They can also check your record. Your attorney will come to the initial hearing with you to represent you when speaking with the judge.

Appealing a Harassment Prevention Order

In some cases, a judge may not grant a harassment prevention order. In other cases, plaintiffs are not given everything they requested through the application and hearing. You are given 30 days to appeal after a judge makes their decision by filing a Notice of Appeal to the clerk’s office of the court that issued the order.

When going through the legal process, an experienced attorney can give you the best chance at ensuring you have everything you need for success in your case without having to file for an appeal. If you do need to file for an appeal, an attorney can also walk you through these steps to make sure that you have the best chance at getting it appealed.

Renewal of Harassment Prevention Order

Harassment prevention orders are not permanent. If a judge grants a harassment prevention order, the order will state how long it lasts. By that time, you will have to contact the court if you want to renew the restraining order. If you do not contact the court by this time, the prevention order will expire.

Can I Get a No Contact Order for Harassment?

Through a no contact order, a defendant is prohibited from physically or verbally coming into contact with the plaintiff. This includes both face-to-face interaction and virtually, whether by phone, Internet, or even mail. Through a harassment prevention order, a judge can order no contact, so the defendant is prohibited from contacting the plaintiff in any way. They can also order that they stay away from your home, work, or other places that you frequent.

Under Chapter 258E, a judge can issue a wide variety of court orders to protect you against harassment. A no contact order specifies how far a defendant must stay away from the plaintiff, any order prohibiting contact, and what happens if both parties arrive at the same location. A judge can also order the defendant to compensate for harassment. This compensation can cover medical bills, lost wages, or even the cost of protecting themselves against harassment for things like changing the locks on their doors.

How to Change or End a Harassment Prevention Order

In some cases, circumstances change, and even the plaintiff no longer wishes to have the restraining order issued against the defendant. To change or end a harassment prevention order, the plaintiff and defendant will need to return to court and ask the judge. At the clerk’s office, you can file documents to request a change or end. Your attorney has the legal expertise to educate you on this process and guide you in the right direction.

How to Get a Cease-and-Desist Order for Harassment

A cease and desist notifies someone through a legal warning when their behavior is inappropriate. This could lead to legal action taken against them. Defendants are required to provide their signature acknowledging the receipt of an order delivered by mail or email.

Cease and desist orders are delivered before a harassment prevention order is filed. If the defendant continues harassing the plaintiff, the plaintiff can file a 258E to prevent further harassment. Cease and desists serve as legal warnings. Harassment prevention orders, on the other hand, are full restraining orders prohibiting contacting with the plaintiff.

Does a Harassment Order Go On Your Record?

Both Chapter 258E and Chapter 209A restraining orders do not appear on your criminal record in Massachusetts. Restraining orders only show up on criminal records if you have violated them. At this time, you have violated a civil court order. This can lead to a conviction of violating a restraining order. This crime will appear on your record. If you are concerned about whether or not a restraining order will appear on your criminal record, consult with an attorney experienced in handling restraining order cases.



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