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Legal Information: Massachusetts

Restraining Orders

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December 14, 2023

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

Generally, if the abuser violates an order, you can call the police or you can file a complaint for contempt in the court that issued the order to report the violation to the court. It can be a crime and contempt of court for violating an abuse prevention order.

Under Massachusetts law, a violation of an order can be punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment for up to two and a half years, or both. In addition, the judge is also supposed to order the abuser to complete a certified batterer’s intervention program, unless the judge finds good cause why this should not happen.1

Note: If the judge determines that the abuser violated the order as retaliation for you reporting him/her to the Department of Revenue for failure to pay child support or for the establishment of paternity, the abuser will be ordered to pay a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000 and will be sentenced to at least 60 days in jail. The 60-day jail sentence cannot be suspended and s/he cannot be eligible for probation or parole and the jail-time cannot be reduced due to good behavior. S/he has to serve the full 60 days.1

If the police are not involved or do not arrest him/her or file a criminal complaint against him/her, you may still be able to go to the district court and take out a criminal complaint against him/her.

For more information about contempt, including the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt, go to our general Domestic Violence Restraining Orders page.

1 M.G.L.A. 209A § 7