Domestic Violence: Restraining Orders

The town of Belchertown falls within the jurisdiction of the Eastern Hampshire District Court which is located at 205 State St, Belchertown, MA 01007. During weekdays, if court is in session, you must go to the Eastern Hampshire District Court to obtain a restraining order. The court is usually open from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, The Court has trained domestic violence advocates that are there to assist you with completing the paperwork. If court is not in session, the Belchertown Police Department can assist you with obtaining an emergency restraining order. We are located at 70 State St (rte 202), opposite the Chestnut Hill Community School.

Legal Requirements for obtaining a 209A Protective order:
In order to get a restraining order, a judge must recognize that you have or are being abused.

Under Massachusetts general laws Abuse is defined as:

  • Being caused physical harm.
  • Attempted to cause physical harm.
  • Place you in fear of imminent serious physical harm.
  • Caused you to engage in sexual relations by threat, force or duress.

Unfortunately you can’t get a restraining order on everyone. Restraining orders are limited to the following persons:

  • A person you are or were married to.
  • A person that you are related to by blood.
  • A person that you are or were related to by marriage.
  • A person that you are or were living with in the same household. i.e. Room mates
  • A person that you are or were involved with in a serious, substantial dating relationship.

How the Belchertown Police Department can help:
When coming to the Belchertown Police Department to obtain an emergency restraining order we will assist you with completing the application and affidavit (written statement). We will then telephone an “on-call judge” who will review your application and affidavit. The judge will likely want to talk to you on the telephone to determine if the circumstances allow for an emergency restraining order to be issued.

Serving the Defendant with the Order:
If an order is issued, we will provide you with a copy of the order and then keep a copy to serve the defendants. We will make every attempt we can to serve the defendant with the order. If the defendant is out of town or out of state we will contact the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction to request their help in serving the defendant. Although you have been issued an order it is only enforceable once it has been served or when the defendant becomes aware of it.

Your appearance in Court:
Once an emergency restraining order is issued you will still need to attend a court hearing, usually 3-10 days after you obtain the order, where a judge will review this order. The date of the hearing is written on the back of the order at the time it was issued. The court will have an advocate on site to assist you through this process and answer your questions. The defendant will also have a right to contest the order.

What happens at Court:
All restraining orders are reviewed by a Judge between the hours of 8:30 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. in a courtroom you will be instructed to appear in.

When your name is called, go to the front of the courtroom, up to the Judge’s bench or where you are otherwise instructed to stand. The microphone records your testimony for the court, it does not make your voice louder.

For the Judge to issue a restraining order, the Judge must determine that the person seeking the order is in fear of the defendant. This fear can be based on the recent incident and/or the history of abuse.

You can request that the defendant leave the home and stay away; you can request that the defendant refrain from abuse; you can request custody of your children, support for your children; and restitution for damages caused by the defendant.

The NO CONTACT portion of the order means the defendant cannot come near you, cannot call you, cannot write you letters or send you cards, cannot send you flowers or leave you notes, and cannot send someone else to talk to or call you on the defendant’s behalf. It does not matter whether or not the contact involves any threat. The defendant simply CANNOT contact you.

The Judge can order the Police to collect from the defendant any guns, FID card and/or keys to your home, car, etc.. If you want any of these taken away from the defendant when he is served with papers by the Police, make sure you ask the Judge to order this.

If the Judge gives you custody of any children under the age of eighteen, you have temporary legal custody. The decision is YOURS as to whether or not visitation will occur. Many times individuals arrange for a third party to communicate with the defendant regarding visitation issues. Note: A Probate Court order can overrule the District Court 209A order for custody or visitation.

The order that you first receive is called the “temporary order” and is valid for up to ten days (according to the court calendar). If you want your restraining order extended beyond the ten day period, you MUST return to the courthouse on the date on your order. On that day, you can request that the order be extended for up to one year. The defendant has the right to appear at this ten day hearing. If you are still in fear of the defendant, explain this to the Judge and request an extension of the order. KEEP YOUR COPY OF THE ORDER WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES.

Often, people requesting a 209A have been the victims of crimes. You have the right to file criminal complaints. In domestic violence situations, the complaints may include assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, threats, malicious destruction and stalking. Incidents should be reported to the Police Department where the crime was committed. Applications for complaints are filed with the Clerk’s Office. If you have any questions about this process, please call a Victim Advocate in the District Attorney’s Office.

If at any time you decide to change or drop the 209A order, you MUST return to the Clerk’s office and have the order changed or dropped (vacated) by the Judge. If the order is not vacated and the defendant has contact with you, the defendant is subject to mandatory arrest.

As the plaintiff, you can not violate your own order. The order is against the defendant, not you. The defendant must abide by the conditions written on the order.

If there is any violation of this order, contact the Police immediately. A violation of the order is a criminal offense and the defendant can be arrested for violating the restraining order.