In Massachusetts, restraining orders and harassment prevention orders are civil legal measures designed to protect individuals from harassment, abuse, threats, or stalking. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to obtain or defend against such an order, it’s important to understand their implications. One common concern is whether these orders will appear on a person’s record. In this blog post, we will explore how restraining orders and harassment prevention orders may affect a person’s record in Massachusetts.
Restraining Orders and Harassment Prevention Orders: Civil Matters
First and foremost, it’s crucial to recognize that both restraining orders (ROs) and harassment prevention orders (HPOs) are civil orders. They are not criminal charges and do not initially result in a criminal record. If the judge issues a temporary restraining order, there will be a follow up court date for a formal hearing. These orders are issued by a court after a hearing, where the judge assesses the evidence and determines whether the order is necessary to protect the plaintiff from harm.
Absence from Criminal Record
Since ROs and HPOs are civil matters, they generally do not appear on a person’s criminal record. This means that they should not impact background checks conducted for employment, housing, or other similar purposes where criminal records are typically scrutinized.
Civil Records and Databases
Although ROs and HPOs may not show up in a criminal record, it’s important to note that they are entered into a civil records database for such orders. These records are typically accessible to the court, law enforcement officers, judicial officials, and sometimes certain government agencies. Civil records may be consulted in subsequent legal proceedings, such as criminal matters, custody disputes or other civil matters, as they provide important information about a person’s past involvement in restraining order cases.
Consequences of Violating an Order
While the initial issuance of a restraining order or harassment prevention order does not create a criminal record, it’s critical to adhere to the terms outlined within the order. Violating the conditions of an order, such as making contact with the protected individual or entering prohibited areas, can lead to criminal charges.
If a person violates a restraining order or harassment prevention order, the protected individual can report the violation to the police. Subsequently, the offender may face criminal charges, potentially resulting in a criminal record. These charges can vary depending on the severity of the violation and may include penalties such as fines, probation, or even imprisonment.
Seek Legal Advice
Navigating the legal landscape surrounding restraining orders and harassment prevention orders can be complex. If you have concerns about the specific impact of such orders on your record, it is strongly recommended to consult with a qualified attorney. Call us now at (617) 227-8383.