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"I spoke out to put a face to the issue for the millions of women, men and children who suffer in silence and to say that you are not alone. Help is available." ~ Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilor (Photo by Christopher Mason)

258E Harassment Prevention Orders

A harassment prevention order (258E) is for victims of sexual assault or stalking. A 258E is similar to a 209A abuse prevention order (commonly referred to as a restraining order). The information below explains the key differences between the two, and answers commonly asked questions such as how to get one and how they are enforced.

A restraining is an important legal option for victims and survivors. It is most effective in combination with a larger confidential plan for safety that can be developed in consultation with a trained advocate from a local sexual assault or domestic violence program. Whether or not you may feel that physical danger is imminent, consulting with a trained advocate can provide you with important information and support. Services are free and confidential. No one from a local sexual assault or domestic violence program will force you to do anything.

Call 1-877-785-2020 to be connected to the program nearest you or click here for a map of Jane Doe Inc. member programs. In an emergency, call 9-1-1 for a police officer to come to your aid.

Read the full text of the 258E law.

In the following sections, the word “defendant” will refer to the person against whom you are filing the harassment prevention order (i.e. your assailant, your abuser, or your stalker).

Eligibility

You are eligible for a harassment prevention order if you:

  • Have been the victim of harassment and
  • Demonstrate a “substantial likelihood of immediate danger of harassment.” This means that there is a serious chance that you will be harassed in the near future if you do not obtain a harassment prevention order.

What is harassment?

According to the law, harassment is defined as:
1. “[T]hree or more acts of willful and malicious conduct aimed at a specific person committed with the intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property and that does in fact cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property, or
2. [A]n act that: (a) by force, threat or duress causes another to involuntarily engage in sexual relations;” or (b) constitutes a violation of several specific criminal statutes*

*The specific statutes referred to are:
- Indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14
- Indecent assault and battery on a mentally retarded person
- Indecent assault and battery on persons 14 years or older
- Rape
- Rape of a child/use of force
- Rape and abuse of a child
- Assault with intent to commit rape
- Assault of a child with the intent to commit rape
- Enticement of a child
- Criminal stalking
- Criminal harassment
- Drugging persons for sexual intercourse.

How to Get a Harassment Prevention Order

Any person can file for a protective order without the services of an attorney or other advocate. However, a domestic violence advocate can make getting a harassment prevention order less confusing, and his or her services are free. Call your local domestic violence or sexual assault crisis program and ask for assistance, or ask at the court if there is a legal advocate available. If you do not have access to either of these two resources, don’t worry! The process is easier than you may think.

  1. Go to the Clerk’s Office at the courthouse in your community and complete an affidavit requesting Harassment Prevention Order.
  2. Then, you will need to go before a judge, who will ask you questions about your safety. S/he has the authority to grant a temporary, ten-day harassment prevention order at that time. You will be given a copy to carry with you at all times.
  3. After that, the court will tell the police that the order has been issued. The police will serve the defendant with the order. You should tell the court the whereabouts of the defendant, to the best of your knowledge, to make this step easier and faster.
  4. Within ten days, you will attend another hearing where the defendant may be present to tell his or her side of the story. This may be very difficult, and it is your right to have an advocate present for support. You will tell your story again, and at this time, the judge can extend the protective order for up to one year.

But I Need a Harassment Prevention Order Immediately!

It is possible to get an emergency harassment prevention order on holidays, weekends, or outside of court hours. Call the police and they will contact an emergency response judge immediately.

How Do Harassment Prevention Orders Work?

Initially, all harassment prevention orders expire after ten days. If you want it to be in effect longer (up to a year), you will have to go back to court (see Step 4 above). If the defendant violates any type of harassment prevention order, it is a crime and carries penalties of jail time and/or a large fine. While in court, you can request that your personal information (i.e. your address) be impounded (kept secret) so that the defendant cannot find you.

Filing a harassment prevention order is 100% FREE.

There are four different issues that may be addressed on harassment prevention orders. You can ask for any or all of these:

  1. Prevention: Orders the defendant to stop abusing or harassing you.
  2. No Contact: Orders the defendant to stop contacting you.
  3. Stay Away: Orders the defendant to stay away from your house and/or workplace.
  4. Monetary Compensation: Orders the defendant to pay you for any losses suffered as a result of his or her abuse and/or harassment (for example, loss of earnings or the cost of replacement locks).

The 258e Harassment Prevention order has no provisions that mandate the surrender of firearms or suspension of licenses to carry firearms.

ALWAYS KEEP YOUR COPY OF THE COURT ORDER WITH YOU!
IN AN EMERGENCY CALL 911!

You have the right to make your own choices

about how to respond to what has happened to you.


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