How will the harasser be notified about the protection from harassment order?
Once you file for a protection from harassment order, the clerk will schedule a date and time for a hearing. In the meantime, you must have the summons and complaint forms “served” on the defendant (your harasser) as well as the temporary (ex parte) protection order if you get one. The hearing cannot be held until the defendant has been served and the temporary order is not valid until the harasser is served with it.
The clerk will likely forward the papers to the sheriff for service, especially if you get a temporary (ex parte) protection order and the defendant lives in Maine. However, be sure to check with the clerk about this. If the defendant resides outside the state of Maine, you may want to ask the clerk for help in arranging service of the complaint and related forms on the defendant in the state where s/he lives.
If you have to arrange for service yourself, you would take a copy of the complaint and the original and one copy of the summons to the sheriff’s department, likely in the county where the defendant lives. Ask the clerk which forms you have to bring to the sheriff if you are not sure. We have a list of sheriffs on our Maine Sheriff Departments page.
The hearing will not be held until the “Return of Service” on the back of the original summons form is filled out and filed with the court to prove that the defendant has been served. If you took the papers to the sheriff for service, you need to get the completed summons back from the sheriff’s office after he is served. The sheriff should fill out the form with details about when and where the sheriff served the defendant. File it in the clerk’s office immediately.
If the clerk has sent the papers out for service, check with the clerk’s office before the hearing to find out if the sheriff’s office has sent the “Return of Service” (summons) back to the court. If you are still waiting for the forms to be returned on the hearing date, you can explain this to the judge and ask for a new hearing date. This will give you and the sheriff some more time to get the complaint and summons served on the defendant.1
1 See Pine Tree Legal Assistance’s Protection from Harassment page