Massachusetts Protective Orders Laws

Protective orders, commonly known as "restraining orders," are intended to protect victims of abuse, stalking, or harassment by requiring perpetrators to stay a certain distance away for a specified period of time. Such orders are primarily used by victims of domestic violence, but may apply in other circumstances. Massachusetts protective orders are valid for a one-year period and may be renewed. A violation of the terms of a protective order can lead to prosecution punishable by fines and jail time.

Learn about Massachusetts' protective order laws in the chart below. You can also see Details on State Protective Order Laws and the links following this article for more details.

Code Section

Massachusetts protective orders laws can be found in Chapter 209A and Chapter 208, section 34C of the Massachusetts General Laws.

Activity Addressed by Order

Some of the activities addressed by a protective order include the following:

  • Enjoins contact with the victim;
  • Excludes a defendant from the victim’s from dwelling;
  • Suspends a firearms license; and
  • May limit on alcohol consumption by the defendant.

A court may also recommend the defendant attend a batterer's treatment program.

Duration of Order

Protective orders are valid for a maximum one year and may be extended by a court.

Penalty for a Violation of Order

Violation of a protective order is a criminal offense punishable by a maximum fine or $5,000, maximum jail sentence of 2.5 years, or both. A court may also order appropriate treatment for the defendant.

Who May Apply for Order?

A person suffering from abuse from an adult or minor family or household member may apply for a protective order.

Can Fees Be Waived?

Under certain circumstances, court fees may be waived.

Order Transmission to Law Enforcement

Certified copies of the order must be provided to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The agency will then deliver a copy of the order to the defendant. If the court vacates an order, it must notify the law enforcement agency in writing.

Civil Liability for Violation of Order

In addition to criminal prosecution, the superior court, probate and family court, district court, or Boston municipal court may initiate civil contempt proceedings for a violation of it’s own court order.

If you are in immediate gear for your safety and need emergency assistance, call 911. Victims who want to know more about their legal rights may contact a Massachusetts family law attorney.

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