Difference Between Chapter 209A and Chapter 258E in Massachusetts

What is Chapter 258E and how does it differ from Chapter 209A in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?

The Massachusetts State Legislature unanimously passed, and in February 2010, Governor Deval Patrick signed Chapter 258E, "An Act Relative to Harassment Prevention Orders" into state law. This new law is said to "close the loophole" of existing restraining orders (Chapter 209A) by offering two other layers to the legislation. For the first layer, in 209A, restraining orders could be filed against relatives or those involved in current or former romantic partnerships. In 258E, orders may be filed against anyone who is considered to be a threat, whether they are known to the Plaintiff or are a stranger. For the second layer, 258E specifies there must be a pattern of harassment, including three or more acts that show "willful and malicious conduct aimed at a specific person committed with the intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property" and that actually causes fear, intimidation, abuse or property damage. A single episode of sexual abuse, either forced, threatened, or under duress, or stalking, also qualify for a charge under 258E.

Prior to the enactment of Chapter 258E, a restraining order could only be sought in the Superior Court unless the parties qualified as family or household members. Now with 258E, orders can be issued from Superior Courts, District Courts, Boston Municipal Court, and Juvenile Court.

The similarities between Chapter 209A and Chapter 258E are also important. It is a crime to violate either a 209A or a 258E order. There are no filing fees for either 209A or 258E, and either type of order can be entered without advanced notice.

How do I learn more about 209A and 258E violations?

At Altman & Altman LLP, our bright defense attorneys have decades of experience, and we are available around the clock to help you. It is important to remember that any contact between the person who requested the order (The Plaintiff) and the person named in the order (the Defendent) is a violation. Thus, if there is a restraining order against you, it is important to speak with a lawyer to understand your rights.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a 209A or 258E violation or would like to learn more about such violations, contact our offices at Altman & Altman LLP, 617.492.3000 or 800.481.6199 toll-free, or contact us online for a free consultation.

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