Protection from Harassment in Maine
Under Maine law, an order for protection against harassment can be filed in certain situations. Anyone can file a petition for an order including businesses. To do so, they must submit a sworn complaint alleging harassment. According to section 4651.A, harassment is defined as:
Three or more acts of intimidation, confrontation, physical force or the threat of physical force directed against any person, family or business that are made with the intention of causing fear, intimidation or damage to personal property and that do in fact cause fear, intimidation or damage to personal property.
Harassment can also include a single violation of any of the following:
- Violations of constitutional rights
- Aiding or soliciting suicide
- Criminal threatening
- Reckless conduct
- Gross sexual assault
- Criminal restraint
- Violation of privacy
- Criminal mischief
Once a request for an order is filed, a full hearing will be scheduled. Before the hearing takes place the court may also grant a temporary order if the following appear true:
- The petitioner or the employees of the business petitioning for the order may be in "immediate and present danger of physical abuse" or of suffering extreme emotional distress as a result of the actions of the defendant
- If the petitioner has provided sufficient information to show that harassment against them has been committed
If no judge or court is available to grant an order, an emergency relief order may be obtained instead. In addition, at the hearing, the court will rule whether or not a long-term order for protection shall be issued.
Harassment Protection Order Laws
At the full hearing, the court will listen to all evidence presented and make a finding as to whether or not the defendant has committed harassment. If the court believes that the harassment has occurred, an order for protection from harassment may be issued. Not every order is the same; section 4655 of Title 5, Chapter 337-A of Maine Law lists some of the provisions that can be included in order:
- The defendant must refrain from harassing, threatening, assaulting, molesting, attacking or otherwise abusing the plaintiff
- The defendant must not enter the premise of the plaintiff's home or property or take actions to cause them to be evicted The defendant must not interfere with or harm the plaintiff's property
- The defendant must not follow the plaintiff or be in a vicinity of their home, school, or place of employment without reasonable cause
- The defendant must not have any direct or indirect contact with the plaintiff
- The defendant must pay monetary compensation including court costs and reasonable attorney's fees for any financial loss they have caused the plaintiff.
In addition to these rules, the court can also add more specified instructions if it sees the need. The order will be issued for a fixed period but will not be for longer than one year. The plaintiff may request an extension after this period.
If you are the victim of harassment in Maine and would like to learn more about obtaining an order of protection, contact our office. A family law attorney can help you with the entire process. Call WTB Law now to find out how to get started.