Were you the Victim of a violent assault?
Are you seeking an abuse prevention or harasment order?
Dan does not specialize in personal injury matters and is not interested in taking on motor vehicle accident cases involving sore muscles and hurt feelings. If you were the victim of a violent assault such as a bar fight, domestic violence incident and suffered significant visible injuries than feel free to give Dan a call at 413-549-3883 for him to screen your case.
Issues regarding self defense, duties to retreat, accidental versus intentional conduct are areas of the law that Dan has been intricately familiar with throughout his eighteen year career. If you are looking to acquire either an abuse prevention order or a harassment prevention order and you do not have funds to hire an attorney, please contact either your local “Safe Plan Advocate”, the Clerk's Office at your local District Court, or please call your local District Attorney’s office and they can assist you. Ultimately you will be required to complete the request for restraining order / harassment order form and sign an affidavit under oath as to why you feel that you need the protection of a court order.
If you feel that the problem you are having is an emergency situation, than you can request that your order be heard “Ex Parte”, where you can ask for the judge to issue the order without the other party knowing about your request. If the court agrees with your request than your order will issue on “ An Ex Parte basis” which means that the defendant will be served with a notice that the order was allowed and is in effect. There will also be a date generally within the two weeks where there will be a hearing on the merits. Both parties will have an opportunity to present evidence as to why the order should or should not issue, and a Judge will ultimately make the decision as to whether or not that order to continue in effect, be modified, or denied.
If you are seeking to retain an attorney to help you acquire an abuse prevention order or a harassment prevention order than Attorney Sandell can assist you with that process. Fees for this type of service generally range in the hundreds, not thousands of dollars.
In order to prevail as a Plaintiff in a Restraining Order you will need to demonstrate that the defendant is or has engaged in abuse of a family member or another in a dating relationship. Abuse is often defined in Massachusetts as “Attempting to cause or is causing physical harm”, “placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm”, or “causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat, or duress”.
Please keep in mind that if you are seeking a harassment prevention order from a Massachusetts Court, at a minimum it is required that you demonstrate THREE SEPARATE INSTANCES or 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 does in fact cause fear, intimidation, abuse, or damage to property. Harassment under this section also includes any act that by force, threat, or duress causes another to involuntarily engage in sexual relations. AS A MATTER OF LAW, LESS THAN THREE SEPARATE INSTANCES WILL NOT RESULT IN A HARASSMENT PREVENTION ORDER BEING ISSUED. I can’t tell you how many times I have witnessed this happen in courts in Massachusetts.
If you are seeking an order be aware that the Civil standard for the hearing is preponderance of the evidence, which is essentially a 51% standard of more likely than not. It is also important to note that although a District Court can make custody determinations involving the children of parties to a restraining order, the Probate and Family Court has the jurisdiction to overturn any District Court’s orders regarding the care and custody of the children as it pertains to the restraining order.
Prepare to have witnesses available to testify if need be. Letters from other people who are not present at the hearing stating what did or did not happen [even if notarized] are very rarely, if ever, allowed into evidence during an abuse prevention or harassment order hearing. The other party is also entitled to review a signed copy of the affidavit you had submitted to the court, as well as copies of [or at a minimum, an opportunity to review] any documentary evidence that you seek to admit into evidence during that hearing.
If you are seeking a divorce or separation, you may want to contact an attorney that exclusively practices family law or divorce law. I mainly stick to District Courts in Massachusetts and let other attorneys focus on matters in the Probate and Family Courts. The above referenced article is not legal advice or an exhaustive explanation or legal thesis regarding abuse prevention and harassment orders. This article hopefully provides a brief explanation of the process what type of evidence you would be expected to provide to prevail as a Plaintiff in either an abuse prevention or harassment order hearing. Again, feel free to contact attorney Sandell at 413-549-3883 or at email@example.com to discuss your issue with Dan. It is also important to verify that Dan is available to represent you on your legal matter.