Receiving a restraining order can be a stressful and emotionally charged experience, but it’s crucial to approach the situation calmly and responsibly. In Massachusetts, a restraining order, also known as an abuse prevention order and often referred to as a “209A” order, is issued by the court to protect individuals from harassment, abuse, or threats. If you find yourself served with a restraining order, follow these important steps to protect your rights and navigate the legal process effectively.
1. Read and Understand the Order
The first step after being served with a restraining order is to read and fully comprehend its terms and conditions. The order will outline specific actions you must avoid, such as contact with the protected person, staying away from certain locations, and other restrictions. It is essential to know precisely what you are required to do to avoid any unintentional violations.
2. Comply with the Order Immediately
Compliance is of utmost importance when dealing with a restraining order. Even if you disagree with the order or feel it is unjust, it is vital to respect the court’s decision and adhere to its terms. Failure to comply could lead to severe legal consequences, including criminal charges, fines, or even imprisonment.
3. Seek Legal Counsel
After being served with a restraining order, promptly consult with an attorney who handles these matters. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, and prepare you for the court hearing. They will also assist in gathering evidence to support your case or challenge the need for the order, increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
4. Gather Evidence
To bolster your case during the court hearing, collect any evidence that can help clarify the situation or dispute the need for the restraining order. This may include communication records, witness statements, or any other relevant documentation that sheds light on the circumstances surrounding the order.
5. Attend the Court Hearing
A court hearing will be scheduled before the expiration of the temporary restraining order to determine if it should be extended or dismissed. Ensure that you attend this hearing and arrive well-prepared. Your attorney will represent your interests and present your case to the court. Be respectful and attentive during the proceedings.
6. Respect Boundaries and Avoid Contact
Until the restraining order is modified or lifted by the court, strictly adhere to its restrictions. Avoid any contact with the protected person, even if they attempt to contact you. Refrain from responding to their messages, calls, or social media interactions. Instead, communicate through your attorney to avoid unintentional violations. It is important to note that a restraining order is a civil order. However, a violation of a restraining order can and often does result in criminal charges.
Being served with a restraining order can be overwhelming, but it’s essential to remain calm and take the necessary steps to protect your rights and comply with the court’s orders. Seek legal counsel promptly, gather evidence, and attend the court hearing prepared. Remember, violating a restraining order can lead to criminal charges, so strict compliance is vital until the order is modified or lifted by the court. If you have any questions, please feel free to call or text us at (617) 227-8383.