What is the difference between an order granted after a hearing and a consent order?
The main difference between the two orders is that an order that is granted after a hearing is granted after the judge has heard all of the evidence presented by you and by the harasser and the judge has decided that you were, indeed, harassed. The judge will make what is called a “finding” of harassment. A consent order is issued without a hearing and without any “finding” of wrongdoing by the harasser. The harasser would agree to you having an order against him/her and you would both agree on what terms will be in the order.
Consent orders can include all the protection that an order issued after a contested hearing would provide. Violation of a consent order can be prosecuted just as a violation of an order issued after hearing would be. However, before giving up the right to a hearing, you should make sure that a consent order has enough protection and other relief since the harasser may try to leave out of the order certain protections that you can get in an order after a hearing.
Once you both appear in court, the judge may right away ask you and the harasser whether you are willing to consider a protection order by consent or agreement, instead of having a contested hearing. Normally, consent orders are worked out by the judge speaking to the parties, or through the use of go-betweens (often lawyers or domestic violence advocates).1
1 See A Guide to Protection from Abuse and Harassment Actions on the Maine Courts website