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Request a harassment prevention order

Do you need protection from someone that is harassing you? See how you can request a harassment prevention order.

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What you need

Need Help?

Local Police- You don’t have to call the police, but it is important for you to know you can call them if you feel you need their protection, especially in emergencies.

Mass. Office for Victim Assistance Coordinates the SAFEPLAN programs on a statewide basis. SAFEPLAN is a court-based program that provides advocates to help victims of sexual assault and stalking who are seeking a harassment prevention order. SAFEPLAN Advocates are available in 41 district and probate courts across the state. The services they provide to victims are free. SAFEPLAN Advocates can help victims of sexual assault or stalking with getting a 258E order or go with you to a harassment prevention order hearing. For information on SAFEPLAN Advocates, what they do, and how to reach them, read the SAFEPLAN FAQs .

Jane Doe, Inc. is the statewide coalition of against sexual assault and domestic violence. Their website includes information for victims of sexual and domestic violence and stalking. http://www.janedoe.org/learn_more and http://www.janedoe.org/find_help

Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) runs a 24/7 toll-free  hotline: 800.841.8371

National Sexual Assault Hotline – 1.800.656.HOPE:  connects callers directly to local crisis centers.

What forms do I file?

You will need to appear in person to the proper court location or police station (if court is closed) to obtain the necessary paperwork for filing.

You will always file:

  • Complaint for Protection from Harassment: This includes the affidavit in support of your request, located on the back of the complaint form if you use the preprinted form available at the courthouse. The affidavit from the online form can be filled out at home but most courts request that the first page of preprinted complaint form (available at the courthouse) be used. They will attach the filled-out affidavit to the preprinted form.
  • Plaintiff confidential information form
  • Defendant information form

 

Fees

There is no charge to get a harassment prevention order

How to request

  1. If the defendant is 17 or over, you can file in Superior Court, Boston Municipal Court (BMC), or the District Court whose jurisdiction covers where you live. You can find a list of courts at your location by searching under city or town for Superior Court, and for the BMC or District Court. If you are unsure what court covers where you live, you can call the closest court on the list and they will be able to direct you to the right place.
  2. If the defendant is under 17, you should file in the Juvenile Court whose jurisdiction covers where you live. You can find a list of Juvenile Courts using the Court Locator. If you are unsure what court covers where you live, you can call the closest court on the list and they will be able to direct you to the right place.
  3. If you are in crisis and courts are closed, you can call or go to your local police station. The police will give you the forms to fill out and then call a judge. If the judge grants the order, it is only temporary until the next court business day. The order given to you by the police will tell you which court and when you need to be at the court.

Next steps

  1. Going into court

    After you fill out the forms, give them back to the Clerk’s office. Court staff will check to see if the defendant is wanted by the police, if there are or have been other restraining orders against the defendant, and/or whether the defendant has any criminal record.  In some courts, court staff may also check your record. Once this is done, you will be brought into the courtroom to appear before a judge.

    If you have asked for an order without the defendant knowing, the defendant will not be there. The judge will look over your papers and ask you some questions. The judge will decide whether or not to give you the order while you are still at the court. If the judge issues an order, you will be given a copy of the order by the Clerk’s office after the hearing is over.

    The police will attempt to serve the defendant with a copy of the order. Your local police department receives a copy of the order. You should also keep a copy of the order with you at all times.

     

  2. 10 day hearing

    The date and time for the next court hearing will be listed on the order. The name and location of the court that issued the order is listed at the top right hand corner of the order. During that hearing, the judge will listen to the evidence and decide if the order should continue to remain in effect, be amended in some way(s), or be terminated (ended). Both the plaintiff and the defendant have a right to be heard at the hearing and to present evidence that the judge finds is relevant. If you do not appear at the next scheduled court hearing, the order will expire at the end of that court day.

    If the judge grants the order, it will be in effect for up to one year. The order will state how long it will last, and will tell you when you need to go back to court if you want to renew it.

    If you want to renew the order, you will need to go back to court on the return/expiration date on the order, and ask for the order to be renewed or the order will expire.

  3. How do I appeal?

    If you are not given an order or not given everything you request, you may appeal. You have 30 days to appeal after the judge makes his or her decision. No matter what court issued the order, you must appeal to the Massachusetts Appeals Court. To start your appeal, you must file a Notice of Appeal at the Clerk’s office of the court that issued the order within thirty days of your hearing. See the Clerk's Guide to Appeals for Lawyers & Self-Represented Litigants for information on the appeals process.

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