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Harassment Prevention

Harassment Prevention Orders in Taunton, MA

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The Harassment Prevention Order law, General Law Chapter 258E, permits individuals who experience criminal harassment, stalking, and/or sexual assault to obtain harassment prevention orders (258E orders) to protect themselves from additional persecution by the perpetrator. The victim need not have a particular relationship with the defendant. 

Consequences of Violating a Harassment Prevention Order

Violation of a 258E order is a criminal offense, with the punishment for a violator being a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to two-and-a-half years, or both. Individuals convicted under General Law Chapter 258E must also pay a fine of $25. In addition, a violator may be required to complete a suitable treatment program based on the type of offense committed, and be ordered to pay for all damages accrued by the victim, such as loss of earnings, financial losses due to physical injuries and/or property damage, medical expenses, and attorney’s fees, among others. Finally, perpetrators who have been referred to treatment programs as a condition of probation must pay a fee of $350.

Although the 258E harassment prevention order is civil in nature, it can quickly lead to a criminal matter if it is alleged that someone has violated any of the order’s conditions, whether or not they have in fact done so. In a time when violent crimes are becoming a rapidly growing public concern, police departments, prosecutors, and courts now take violations of the 258E harassment prevention order extremely seriously, and punishment in the criminal justice system can be quick and severe.

The Importance of Legal Representation

Furthermore, a criminal record involving alleged violence can be extremely damaging to many areas of an individual’s life and reputation, such as employment prospects, school applications, private and public housing eligibility, adoption proceedings, and bail hearings, among others. Thus, it is critical to take immediate steps to avoid being issued a 258E harassment prevention order, or if you have violated one, to avoid becoming subject to potential criminal prosecution and its serious life-changing effects. 

Contact the Law Office of Rachel M. Matos at 508-386-9094 today to go over the specifics of General Law Chapter 258E or to discuss your violation case and learn how to best proceed.