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When the court issues a 209A restraining order it is a civil action. It is intended to protect you from future abuse. It is not a criminal action and will not punish someone for what they may have already done to you. By itself, a 209A order will not cause anyone to go to jail.
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Chapter 209A, the Massachusetts Abuse prevention Act, defines abuse as the occurrence of one or more of the following between family or household members:
An Abuse Prevention Order, called a “209A Order,” or a “protective order,” or a “restraining order,” is a civil court order intended to provide protection from physical or sexual harm caused by force or threat of harm from a family or household member.
Chapter 209A, the Massachusetts Abuse Prevention Act, defines family or household members as persons who:
A 209A Order can be obtained in any District Court, Superior Court, or Probate and Family Court in Massachusetts. Should you decide to go to the District or Superior Court to obtain a 209A Order you may go the respective court in the area where you live or, if you have fled to another area to avoid abuse, you may go to the respective court in the area you have now taken up residence.
Go to the Clerk’s Office in the court and ask for a “protective order,” or a “209A Order,” or “restraining order.” You will receive a packet of forms to complete, which is your application for a protective order.
Waltham District Court at:
38 Linden Street
Waltham, MA 02472
Cambridge Superior Court (3rd District) at:
40 Thorndike Street
Cambridge, MA 02472
An emergency 209A Order can be obtained through any police department after court hours, on weekends and holidays. You do not need a lawyer to make application for a 209A Order and there is no charge for filing. Be sure to call the police department which has jurisdiction over the area you reside in.
Once a 209A Order is issued, violation of any terms of the order is a criminal offense. The police must arrest the abuser if they believe or can see that the terms of the Order were violated. If you do not call the police, you may be able to file an application for criminal complaint on your own at the Clerk’s Office in the District Court. A Victim/Witness Advocate can assist you with that process.
It is recommended that if your abuser violates the Order, call the police immediately.
The police department will be given a copy of the restraining order which they will give to your abuser. This is called “service.”
There is no cost to obtain a restraining order.
No. You do not need a lawyer to file for a 209A restraining order, but an attorney may represent you if you choose.
Review guidelines for protecting yourself in a domestic violence situation.