The First Steps - Protection From Abuse and Harassment

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DEFINITIONS

Dating Partner:

  • People currently or formerly involved in dating each other.

Defendant:

  • The person the plaintiff wants protection from.

Dependent Adult:

  • An adult who has a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs his or her ability to adequately provide for his or her daily needs.

Extended Family Member:

  • Related by blood, marriage or adoption.

Family or Household Members:

  • Current or former spouses or domestic partners;
  • Natural parents of the same child;
  • Individuals who are or were living together;
  • Sexual partners;
  • Adult household members related by blood or marriage; or
  • Minor child(ren) of an adult household member.

Incapacitated Adult:

  • Any adult who is impaired by reason of mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability to the extent he or she lacks sufficient understanding to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning themselves.

Plaintiff:

  • The person who starts the protection case with the court.

Stalking:

  • Including, but not limited to, two or more acts of monitoring, interfering with property, harassing, or threatening that will cause the plaintiff to:
    • Suffer serious inconvenience or emotional distress;
    • Fear injury or death for him or her self, his or her animal, or a person of close relation; or
    • Fear damage to, destruction of, or tampering with property.

Unpaid Care Provider:

  • A caretaker who voluntarily provides full, temporary or occasional personal care to the plaintiff in the plaintiff's home, similar to the way a family member would provide care.

PROTECTION FROM ABUSE
The plaintiff may be:

  • An adult;
  • An adult on behalf of a minor child, for whom that adult is responsible;
  • An emancipated minor; or
  • A legal guardian on behalf of an incapacitated adult.

Relationship Required

The plaintiff and defendant must be related in one of the following ways unless the plaintiff has been sexually assaulted or stalked by the defendant:

  • Family or household member;
  • Dating partner; or
  • The plaintiff is 60 years of age or older, a dependent adult, or an incapacitated adult, and the defendant is the plaintiff's extended family member or unpaid caregiver.

Circumstances that can Lead to a Protection from Abuse Order

Abuse

  • Attempting to cause or causing bodily injury or offensive physical contact;
  • Attempting to place or placing another person in fear of bodily injury;
  • Keeping someone from doing something he or she has the right to do, or forcing, threatening or intimidating someone to do something he or she has the right not to do;
  • Substantially restricting the movements of another person;
  • Repeatedly, and without cause, following another person, or being at or in the vicinity of another's home, school, or work; or
  • Threatening a crime of violence.

Sexual Assault: Sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient as defined in 17-A M.R.S. Chapter 11.

Stalking: For an explanation of stalking see definitions.

PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT
The plaintiff can be:

  • An adult;
  • An adult on behalf of a minor, for whom that adult is responsible;
  • An emancipated minor;
  • A legal guardian on behalf of an incapacitated adult; or
  • A business.

Circumstances that can Lead to a Protection from Harassment Order

No relationship between the plaintiff and defendant is required.

Harassment requires three or more acts of intimidation, confrontation, physical force or threat of physical force. Only one act is required when the harassment constitutes a violation of the law in the following areas: aiding or soliciting suicide, assault, criminal threatening, terrorizing, reckless conduct, violation of privacy, kidnapping, criminal restraint, criminal mischief, harassment, arson, or interference with constitutional or civil rights.

Cease Harassment Notice

Before filing a protection from harassment case the plaintiff must first have law enforcement warn the defendant to stop harassing him or her. A copy of the warning must be included when the case is filed.

The plaintiff is not required to have law enforcement warn the defendant first if:

  • The harassment is related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
  • The plaintiff can show a good reason for not warning the defendant; or
  • The harassment constitutes a violation of the law in the following areas: aiding or soliciting suicide, assault, criminal threatening, terrorizing, reckless conduct, kidnapping, criminal restraint, violation of privacy, arson, harassment, criminal mischief, or interference with constitutional or civil rights.

THE MAJOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PROTECTION FROM ABUSE AND PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT

With citations to Maine Revised Statutes, Court Administrative Order, and Court Rule.

 

Abuse

Harassment

Before filing a case

Law enforcement does not have to warn the defendant to stop abusing the plaintiff.
19-A M.R.S. § 4005

Law enforcement must first warn the defendant to stop harassing the plaintiff (in most situations). This warning is called a cease harassment notice.
5 M.R.S. § 4653
17-A M.R.S. § 506-A

Plaintiff

A business may not file a protection from abuse case.
19-A M.R.S. §§ 4002 & 4005

A business may file a protection from harassment case.
5 M.R.S. § 4653(1)

Relationship requirement

A relationship is required, unless the plaintiff has been sexually assaulted or stalked by the defendant. Or, the plaintiff is age 60 or older or a dependent or incapacitated adult and the defendant is the plaintiff's unpaid care provider.
19-A M.R.S. § 4005

No relationship is required.
5 M.R.S. § 4651

Cost

None.
AO – JB-05-26

$30, unless there is an allegation of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault as part of the case. Or, unless the court waives the fee due to the plaintiff's inability to pay.
AO – JB-05-26 M.R.Civ.P. 91

Length

Up to 2 years.
19-A M.R.S. § 4007

Up to 1 year.
5 M.R.S. § 4655(2)

Firearms

A protection order may prohibit the defendant from having firearms and dangerous weapons.
19-A M.R.S. § 4007

In some cases, a harassment order may cause the defendant to be prohibited from having firearms.
15 M.R.S. § 393

 

Resources for plaintiffs and defendants:

Maine State Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service
Allows anyone to consult with an attorney.
After paying a $25 administrative fee the person will receive a 30-minute consultation with a
lawyer (usually by phone).
1-800-860-1460
http://mainebar.org/lawyer-referral
lrs@mainebar.org

Maine Coalition To End Domestic Violence
Provides support and resources for victims of domestic violence. The coalition has specific resources to help plaintiffs in protection cases.
24-hour toll-free confidential hotline:
1-866-834-4357
TTY: 1-800-437-1220
http://mcedv.org
Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Provides support and resources for victims of
sexual assault.
24- hour toll-free confidential hotline:
1-800-871-7741
TTY: 1-888-458-5599
http://mecasa.org

COURT CLERKS CANNOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE OR TELL YOU WHAT TO WRITE ON COURT FORMS.

 

All forms can be found at: http://courts.maine.gov/fees_forms/forms or at any District Court Clerk's Office