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Know the Laws: Massachusetts

UPDATED November 28, 2016

Harassment Prevention Orders

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This order protects from incidents of threatening, following, and/or coercive behavior that occurs more than once.

Getting a harassment prevention order

back to topWhen I apply for the order, can I keep my address confidential?

Yes.  Your home address and work address will appear on the order unless you specifically request that this information be kept confidential.*  Be sure to tell the clerk that you want this information confidential when filling out the forms.

* M.G.L.A. 258E § 10

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back to topHow much does it cost?

There is no fee for filing a petition for a harassment prevention order or for any certified copies of the order.*

* M.G.L.A. 258E § 3(c)

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back to topWhat happens if an abuser violates a harassment prevention order?

If the harasser violates the harassment prevention order, you can call 911 immediately. Tell the police you have a valid harassment prevention order and that the defendant violated it.

Any violation of a harassment prevention order can be considered a crime.  Each harassment prevention order issued must contain the following statement “VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER IS A CRIMINAL OFFENSE.”

Any violation of a harassment prevention order can be punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or by imprisonment for up to 2 ½ years or both.

You can also file a contempt petition in the civil court that issued the order. That judge can also hold the defendant in “civil contempt,” which can impose other penalties on the defendant.*

* M.G.L.A. 258E § 9

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