Town of Nahant


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Synopsis of Abuse Prevention Act:
Massachusetts General Law - 209A

Who is covered by the 209A statute?
Family or household members, persons who:

  • Were married to one another.
  • Are or were residing together in the same household.
  • Are or were related by blood or marriage.
  • Having a child in common regardless or whether they have ever married or lived together, or are
  • Or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship, which shall be adjudged by district, probate or Boston municipal courts.

What is a vacate order?
A vacate order orders the defendant to:

  • Leave and remain away from a premises.
  • Surrender forthwith any keys to said premises.
  • Damage any of the plainfiffs belongings.
  • Shut off or cause to be shut off any utilities or mail delivery to plaintiff. not interfere in any way with the plaintiffs right to posses such premises, except by court order.

A vacate order may include a household, a multiple family dwelling, or plairitifrs vmftlace.
(The presiding justice must consider whether the parties work in the same location or for the same employer.)

Where can a valid 209A order be issued?

A 209A order may be issued by the superior, probate and family, district or municipal court departments of the trial court having venue over the plaintiffs residence. When the petitioner is in a dating relationship, only the district, probate, or municipal courts may issue an order.

If the plaintiff has left a residence or household to avoid abuse, the plaintiff has the option of filing the order at the court having venue over the prior residence or at the court having venue over the new residence.

What relief can an abused person obtain from the courts?

A person suffering abuse from an adult or minor family or household member may request protection including:

  • Ordering the defendant to refrain from abusing the plaintiff.
  • Ordering the defendant to refrain from contacting the plaintiff, unless authorized by the court.
  • Ordering the defendant to vacate and remain away from the household, multiple family dvmlling or workplace.

(An order to vacate shall not exceed one year, at the expiration the court may ex-tend the order upon motion of the plaintiff for an additional year.)

  • Awarding the plainfiff temporary custody of a minor child.
  • Ordering the defendant to pay temporary support for the plaintiff and or any child in the plaintiffs custody or both, Men he has a legal obligation to do so.
  • Ordering the defendant to pay compensation for the losses suffered as a direct result of the abuse including: Loss of earnings, restoring utilities, out of pocket for injuries sustained, replacement for locks or property removed or destroyed, medical or moving expenses, and reasonable attorney fees.
  • Ordering the plaintiffs address to be impounded.
  • Ordering the defendant to refrain from abusing or contacting the plaintiffs minor child, or child in plaintiff's care or custody, unless authorized by the court.
  • The Judge may recommend the defendant attend a recognized bafter's intervention programs

There are no filing fees charged for the filling of the complaint or fees for certified copies of any orders entered by the court.

How long does a restraining order last?

The court may issue an immediate temporary (ex-parte order) as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff from abuse, then must issue immediate notice to the defendant. The ex-parte order will be in effect until the return hearing (no later than 10 business days.) At the 10 day hearing the plaintiff my request that the order be extended. The Court may issue an order for up to one year.

What if the abuser does not attend the return hearings?

If the plaintiff appears for the return hearing, and the defendant does not appear, the court shall continue the order vathout further notice to the defendant.

Can the court refuse to issue an order?

The court can deny an order for lack of jurisdiction, or if a person is not a family or household member, or if it deems the allegations do not constitute abuse.
The court cannot refuse to extend an existing order solely because abuse has not occurred during the pendancy of that order.
The court cannot deny an order solely because it was not virtuald Wthin a particular time period after the last incident of abuse.
Is mediation appropriate in 209A cases?
Paries may choose to ublize mediators, but courts shall not compel parties to mediate any aspect of their case. Family service or vicrim/Wtness personnel may be used for information gathering purposes, but parties shall not be forces to meet together.

Can the courts issue mutual restraining orders?

The court can issue mutual restraining orders only Men accompanied by specific, wiften , findings of fact. Such orders shall be sufficiently detailed and specific so police can enforce them.

Suspension and surrender of firearms of license and firearms

Upon issuance of a temporary or emergency order, the court shall order the suspension and surrender of any license to cany firearms and or firearms identification card vjiich the defendant may hold and order the defendant to surrender all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns vath ammunition Mich he then controls, ovms, in accordance Wth the privations of this chapter. A suspension and surrender order shall confinue so long as the restraining order is in effect.

Can a victim obtain protection when the court is closed?

An emergency response system judge may grant orders by telephone to a law enforcement agency-Mo shall record the order and deliver a copy to the clerk magistrate or the court having jurisdiction on the next business day.

What if the victim obtains a 209A and then goes onto virtual for divorce, annulment,, paternity, custody, support, guardianship, or separate support?

Any custody or support judgment issued in the subsequent hearings shall supersede custody or support orders under 209A. (note: The Family and Probate court can modify orders granted by a district court.)

Service of Powers

Thecourt must immediately send copies of the order to the appropriate law enforcement agency, which shall serve copies to the defendant and make prompt return of service to the court. When ever such orders are vacated, the court will notify the law enforcement agency which will destroy all record of such order.

Powers of Police

  • Remain on the scene a reasonable time to prevent further abuse.
  • Assist the abused person in obtairfing medical treatment - driving or obtaining transportation.
  • Assist the person in locating and getting to a safe place.
  • Give the abused person a written copy of their rights, reading it in English and, vvnenever possible, in the victim's native language. (note: see attachment for copy of rights.)
  • Activate the emergency judicial response system Men the court is closed for business. a Inform the victim that the abuser is eligible for bail and may be promptly release

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