Once a 209A order is issued, violation of the terms is a criminal offense. Violations of orders to refrain from abuse, for no contact and to vacate a household, multiple family dwelling or workplace can be prosecuted under c. 209A.
Call the Provincetown Police immediately if the abuser violates the order
Show the order to the police and explain the violation. For example: a punch, slap, threat, refusal to vacate the house or apartment, unauthorized contact with you either in person or telephone at your home or work place. The police must arrest the abuser if they have reasonable cause to believe or witness that the terms of the order were violated. If you do not call the police, you may be able to file criminal complaints on your own at the Clerk's Office in the district court. A Victim Witness Advocate can assist you with that process.
What should I do if an arrest is made?
If an abuser is arrested, seek assistance from the Victim Witness Advocate in the District Attorney's Office the next morning after an evening arrest or at any time during the day at the courthouse. A Victim Witness Advocate will explain what the charges mean and what will happen next.
What happens after the arrest?
Once a criminal complaint has been issued or an arrest made, the abuser will be charged with the crime or crimes at an arraignment proceeding in the district court. A bail hearing will be held to determine whether the defendant/abuser will be released or held in jail until trial. If they are released from custody, the court must make a reasonable effort to notify you of the release, even if you are not present in court.
What crimes can an abuser be charged with?
In addition to the crime of Violation of a 209A Restraining Order, an abuser can be charged with a number of other crimes committed at or near the time of the violation, some of which may include:
Assault (G.L. c.265, s.13A) in an attempt or offer to do bodily injury by force or violence or an attempt to batter.
Assault and Battery (G.L. c265, s.13A) is a harmful or unpermitted touching of another, no matter how slight, without a legal right to do so.
Assault and Battery By Means of A Dangerous Weapons (G.L. c265, s.15) is a battery with an dangerous weapon, such as a baseball bat, shod foot, ashtray, knife or other object used in a way that may cause serious injury or death to another.
Threats (G.L. c27, s.4) are verbal or written threats which a victim reasonably believes the abuser may commit.
Annoying Telephone Calls (G.L. c.269 2.14A) are repeated telephone calls for the sole purpose of harassing or annoying an individual or a family.
Trespassing (G.L. c.266, s.120) is entering or remaining in or on a house or land in violation of a 209A order.
Malicious Destruction of Personal Property (G.L. c.266, s.127) is the destruction or injury to personal property, a house or building in a manner that is willful and malicious.
Stalking (G.L. c.265, s43A) is the willful, malicious and repeated following or harassment of an individual AND the making of threats with the intent to place that person in imminent fear of death or serious bodily injury. The penalties are increased for a conviction on a stalking crime committed in violation of a 209A order.
What will happen at the court arraignment?
You will meet the victim witness advocate and the Assistant District Attorney who will be handling the arraignment at the courthouse.
The Assistant District Attorney represents the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the victim's interests in prosecuting the case, and works with the Victim Witness Advocate to assist you during the trial.
It is important to provide information to the Assistant District Attorney before the arraignment and bail hearing regarding the history of the abuse and a description of the most recent abuse, including any pictures or hospital records of injuries. You should also mention the location of any guns or other weapons the abuser might have in his possession.
The Assistant District Attorney will bring all of this information to the attention of the Judge, along with your safety concerns and fears at this time. The Judge may also consider whether the defendant is dangerous and a threat to you or the community. The information will help the Judge decide if the defendant should be jailed until trial; or, if the defendant/abuser is to be released, what the amount and conditions of bail will be.
What will happen after the arraignment?
Interviews with you will be conducted before the trial date to gather information and evidence for prosecution. Every effort will be made to consider your needs and safety in going forward with the case. The safety of your children will also be a priority.
Prosecution may provide the means to gain batterer's intervention services for the defendant as part of a sentence recommendation. Very few batterers seek or stay with a program on their own, without court orders and probation supervision. The Assistant District Attorney will speak with you about different sentences should the defendant be found guilty or plea to a guilty finding. The sentence asked for may also include drug or alcohol counseling, supervised probation and/or jail time.