In Maine, individuals may go to court to seek protection against abuse and harassment in the form of a protection order, also called a restraining order. A protection from abuse order may be effective up to two years; a protection from harassment, up to one year. Protection orders are issued by the District Court, and violating them has severe consequences which may lead to criminal charges for the violator.
If you are seeking a protection order...
If you are seeking a protection order, it is wise to get legal advice before you fill out your complaint. The legal definitions of “abuse” and “harassment” are very specific, and if you fail to show that the conduct meets the definition, a temporary order will not be granted.
A Lipman & Katz attorney can advise you on whether the facts add up to abuse or harassment. We can also represent you in a hearing so that the evidence is properly presented to the Court. It may also be helpful to speak with a hotline which helps victims, such as the Family Violence Project.
If you have been served a protection order...
If you've been served a protection order, it's important to obey it, even if you feel it is unfair, and seek legal advice. You'll have an opportunity for a hearing. Protection orders may have severe consequences; one’s rights to have and use firearms may be taken away, and a violation of an order will likely result in arrest and lead to criminal charges. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling these matters and can provide you with representation.
The protection order process can be a valuable tool for providing safety to the victims of abuse and harassment. Our experienced attorneys can assist you through this difficult and often confusing time.
How the process works:
- A victim of domestic abuse may have called the police, which may trigger a criminal investigation and potential criminal charges.
- In addition to calling the police or, instead of calling the police, the victim may apply for a restraining order by filling out a “complaint” at the courthouse describing the abuse.
- An immediate, temporary order may be requested based on the complaint alone, without a hearing. If a temporary order is granted, the person who allegedly committed the abuse must be served the paperwork.
- The Court must set a hearing within 21 days to allow the opportunity to hear evidence from both sides before it can issue a final order that may be in effect up to two years.
- At the hearing, both sides must be prepared to testify, bring witnesses, and show other evidence. A judge will likely rule immediately after the hearing on whether or not to grant the order. An alternative to a judge ruling is that both parties can agree to a protection order on their own terms, without the court finding that abuse occurred.
Call an attorney in our family law practice today at 1-800-660-3713 to receive the advice you need.