Household disputes are common across Massachusetts. In many instances, these disagreements result in nothing more than the exchange of some harsh words and hurt feelings. But when the matter turns physical, there can be additional ramifications. While criminal charges might be levied against the individual who is identified as the aggressor, that individual may also be subjected to a 209A restraining order.
What is a 209A restraining order?
A 209A order is essentially a restraining order that seeks to protect an individual from real or threatened physical or sexual harm. These orders are often called “abuse prevention orders.” An individual who seeks out one of these orders may be able to obtain one against a family member or someone who resides in their household. This may include a spouse, a former spouse, a current or former member of the household, or someone who has a significant dating relationship with the person who is seeking the order.
What must be shown in order to obtain an abuse prevention order?
Before the court will issue one of these orders, certain evidence must be presented. However, in most instances, the submission of a sworn affidavit detailing the physical violence or threat of harm is enough to obtain an initial order. Keep in mind, too, that these orders of protection are civil in nature, which means that they’re easier to obtain.
What happens if an order is violated?
Violation of a 209A order is a criminal act. And given that the breadth of one of these orders, which may include prohibitions from contacting the protected individual, staying away from the protected individual’s home, and giving up a firearm, it can be easy to face allegations of violating the order. However, if you’re accused of violating a 209A restraining order, you should expect to be confronted by the police, at which time you may end up being arrested and charged with a criminal offense.
Defending against a 209A order violation
Even though facing these charges can be enormously stressful, you might have significant criminal defense options at your disposal. Here are some arguments that you might be able to make in your case:
- You weren’t given notice that the order had been issued against you, thereby showing that any perceived violation was unintentional.
- The order was no longer valid at the time that you allegedly violated the 209A order.
- Present evidence to demonstrate that you didn’t violate the language of the 209A restraining order, which will require you to carefully assess the restrictions in the order and gather evidence that speaks to them.
- Show that the protected person was the one who initiated the contact in question and that you tried to stop that contact.
Some of these arguments can be broad in nature. This means that you need to be diligent about assessing the evidence at hand and carefully crafting the criminal defense arguments that you need to protect your interests.
Do you need a strong criminal defense attorney on your side?
Being convicted of violating a 209A restraining order can lead to serious consequences, including jail time. To avoid being hit with these kinds of harsh penalties, you need to aggressively defend yourself. An attorney who is experienced in these matters may be able to help you do that. So, if you’re thinking about how best to approach your case, now may be the time to reach out to a legal team that you think will give you the kind of representation that you want on your side.