The Harassment Prevention law, known as Chapter 258E, was enacted by the Massachusetts Legislature on February 9, 2010 and became effective in August, 2010. This law provides more options for a person who is being harassed, but may not qualify for a traditional restraining order, known as Chapter 209A. The definition of abuse under Chapter 209A is different than the definition under this new law. Therefore, if one does not meet the higher standard required to qualify for a restraining order, that person may qualify for a Harassment Prevention Order. Furthermore, a person can now apply to the court for a harassment prevention order, regardless of the presence of any family relationship.
Harassment under this statute is defined as:
- three (3) or more acts of willful and malicious conduct aimed at a specific person committed with the intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property and that does in fact cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property; or
- an act that: (A) by force, threat or duress causes another to involuntarily engage in sexual relations; or (B) constitutes a violation of sections 13B, 13F, 13H, 22, 22A, 23, 24,24B, 26C, 43 or 43A of Chapter 265 or section 3 of Chapter 272(sections regarding many crimes, including indecent assault & battery, rape, kidnapping, stalking, criminal harassment and drugging for sexual intercourse).
The defendant in this action can be ordered to:
- "refrain from abusing or harassing the plaintiff, whether the defendant is an adult or minor;
- refrain from contacting the plaintiff, unless authorized by the court, whether the defendant is an adult or minor;
- remain away from the plaintiff's household or workplace, whether the defendant is an adult or minor; and
- pay the plaintiff monetary compensation for the losses suffered as a direct result of the harassment; provided however that compensatory damages shall include, but not be limited to, loss of earnings, Out-of-pocket losses for injuries sustained or property damaged, cost of replacement of locks, medical expenses, cost for obtaining an unlisted phone number and reasonable attorney fees."
Violation of a Harassment Prevention Order is a criminal offense punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000.00 or by imprisonment or both. Additionally, the court may order the defendant to pay the plaintiff damages, such as loss of earnings and out-of pocket losses.
If you believe you need a Restraining Order, Harassment Prevention Order, or any legal protection from abuse, contact your local police department for assistance.
If you would like information regarding options for your protection or to defend yourself from an action taken against you, contact Mavrides Law for a legal consultation to discuss your options.