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If you are the subject of a restraining order, understand that it is a very serious matter that deserves your prompt attention. You do, however, have important rights. If a person (known in the case as “the petitioner”) asks a court to issue a restraining order against you because of alleged domestic violence or other domestic conflict, you are entitled to be notified of the request, to have a court hearing, and to defend yourself. (Temporary orders are an exception; see the explanation below.) You also have the right to be represented by an attorney, although in restraining order proceedings, you are not entitled to free counsel or a court-appointed attorney.

You should never ignore a restraining order request. Instead, you should get information about your rights and options, consult with a lawyer, and participate in the court process. Once a restraining order is entered, you can be charged with a crime if the protected party accuses you of violating the order. If a permanent order is issued, you will be prohibited from possessing a firearm while the order is in effect, and the order will show up on background checks.

In most states, a court can enter a temporary restraining order that will last for a few days, without first holding a hearing and without the target of the order (known as “the respondent”) being present. However, the judge must conduct a formal hearing before entering a permanent order. These hearings, to which the respondent receives notice, are usually set quickly, so you may have only a week or ten days to make decisions and prepare for the hearing.

 Attorney Susan M. Costa, P.C. has been handling Restraining Orders for 11 years and can help you through such troubling times. Attorney Costa, named a rising star by Super Lawyers, has emerged as a top criminal defense lawyers in Massachusetts earning her reputation the old fashioned way: winning one case at a time. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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