• This page, COVID-19 resources for Abuse Protection Orders (209A) and Harassment Prevention Orders (258E), is   offered by
  • Massachusetts Court System

COVID-19 resources for Abuse Protection Orders (209A) and Harassment Prevention Orders (258E)

Resources and information for Abuse Protection Orders (G.L.c. 209A) and Harassment Prevention Orders (G.L.c. 258E) during the COVID-19 pandemic

Table of Contents

Abuse prevention orders

Harassment prevention orders

209A & 258E Resource Guide

Resource Guide (G.L.c. 209A and c. 258E) — a region-specific listing of advocacy services information for individuals seeking abuse prevention orders (209A) and, in appropriate cases, harassment prevention orders (258E), and may consider utilizing these services to facilitate contact regarding the next scheduled court hearing.

Court contact information for law enforcement

Law enforcement can find court phone numbers for use in completing 209A and 258E Protection Order forms at the Courthouse Locator.

Did you know?

  • Anyone can call the court and ask questions either for themselves or for a family member or friend without filing for a restraining order.  The Court Service Centers are also great resources as are the Law Libraries. To find out more about what Court Service Centers can offer, visit Learn about Court Service Centers. If you are looking for help finding or using Massachusetts legal information, ask a Trial Court law librarian.
  • Court employees will never tell an individual looking to apply for a restraining order what to do.  Rather, options are explained and the individual is able to make their own decisions about whether or not to seek an order of protection.
  • Court employees are aware of supportive services available to individuals throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and are able to provide contact information to individuals seeking assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know which courthouse to contact?

To find out which courts serve your city or town, you can search the courthouse locator.

Do I need an appointment or a referral to file for a restraining order?

You do not need an appointment or a referral to file for a restraining order. You may contact your local court anytime during business hours between 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM to apply for an order. If you are looking for assistance after hours, please reach out to your local police department who can access an on-call judge through the Judicial Response System.

Who will I talk to when I apply for a restraining order?

When you first contact the court to apply for a restraining order, you will most likely talk to an employee in the clerk’s office. If you happen to end up speaking with someone from another department, be sure to let them know that you are looking to apply for a restraining order and they will direct you to the clerk’s office. In some courts, the clerk’s office has designated restraining order staff that can also assist you.

What questions will I be asked when I apply for a restraining order?

You will be asked to provide information to complete the application package for the type of restraining order you are requesting. This includes, but is not limited to, information such as:

  • Contact information for both you and the defendant
  • The nature of the relationship between you and the defendant
  • The nature of the abuse or harassment that occurred
  • Whether or not either you or the defendant are under the age of 18
  • Whether or not the defendant possesses any guns, ammunition, firearms identification cards, and/or a license to carry
  • Whether or not there are any prior or pending court actions in Massachusetts or any other state or country
  • Whether or not you have any minor children
  • What relief you are requesting from the court, meaning what you are asking the judge to order

What is the role of the court staff?

The role of the court staff in the clerk’s office is to provide you with the necessary application forms you need and assist you by answering any questions you might have regarding the information you are asked to provide. They will also explain the procedure for requesting an order.

What happens after I provide my information to the court staff?

Once you have completed the application for a restraining order with the clerk’s office staff, you will be scheduled to have a hearing with a judge. The judge will review the information you provided and may ask additional questions. The judge requires as much information as possible, such as what happened, each person’s actions, the dates, locations, any injuries, and any medical services sought. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will let you know if he or she has decided to issue the order and will review the details of the order with you if one is issued.

Do I have to speak to the District Attorney’s office if I file for a restraining order?

Applying for a restraining order because you have experienced domestic or sexual violence does not require you to file criminal charges with the District Attorney’s office. However, sometimes the information provided in the restraining order application or during the court hearing could qualify as criminal offenses. If you would like to talk about your options you should contact your local District Attorney’s office.

What is a SAFEPLAN Advocate?

SAFEPLAN is a court-based civil advocacy program created by the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) in 1995. SAFEPLAN Advocates are specially trained advocates to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking who are seeking protection from abuse. They are available in 53 District and Probate and Family Courts throughout the state. To find out more about the SAFEPLAN program, please visit SAFEPLAN program.

What is a Victim Witness Advocate (VWA)?

VWAs work alongside Assistant District Attorneys in each county here in Massachusetts. They provide advocacy services, including information and support, to victims of crime and their family members throughout the criminal justice process. To contact a VWA, please call your local District Attorney’s Office.

What is a Community Based Advocate?

Community based advocates are either employees or volunteers associated with community based agencies. They can provide services to individuals in need, in accordance with agency policies and typically regardless of an individual’s participation in the criminal justice process. To access the full list of domestic and sexual violence service providers in Massachusetts, visit Jane Doe’s website.

What is a Civilian Police Advocate?

The Civilian Police Advocacy program is a partnership between community based agencies and police departments. Civilian Police Advocates are not police officers, but work on site out of police departments and are able to provide follow-up and referral services as needed to victims of domestic violence. Not all police departments have Civilian Police Advocates. To find out more about the program and if there is an advocate in your town, contact your local police department.

Date published: April 17, 2020

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