Protection from Abuse Orders in Maine
According to Maine's domestic relations laws, a person who is the victim of abuse may file a protection from abuse order as a way of legally restricting the abuser from contacting or coming into contact with the victim or their children. This order can be either temporary or long term depending on the circumstances. According to section 4001, an order can be filed when abuse has occurred “between family or household members or dating partners or by a family or household member or dating partner upon a minor child of a family or household member or dating partner”. Abuse meaning:
- Attempting or causing bodily injury, offensive physical contact, sexual assault or other injury
- Threatening, tormenting or taking other measures to cause fear of bodily harm
- Using force or threats to get another person to act against their will Intentionally causing another person to restrict their movements against their will by:
- Taking them from their home, job or school
- Moving them a “substantial distance” from where they were taken from
- Confining them in another location
- Repeatedly follow another person to and from their school, job, and home for no reason
- Threaten to harm or commit a crime against another person, even if there was no actual intention of committing the offense
Maine Abuse Protection Order Laws
Under section 4005, anyone who has been the victim of abuse by a family or household member or dating partner may seek protection by filing a complaint with the court. It does not matter whether or not the abuse had been reported to the police or an arrest had been made. If a minor child is the victim of the abuse, a legal guardian or representative of the department may seek an order for them. Once the order is filed, there are several results that can occur. They are listed under section 4006 and are as follows:
Full hearing - A hearing will be sentenced within 21 days of filing a complaint in order for the court to determine whether or not a long term protection from abuse order shall be issued.
Temporary order – The court may order temporary protection when it feels that there is an "immediate and present danger of abuse". This order will last until the full hearing takes place. Temporary orders often require the defendant to refrain from possessing firearms or any type of dangerous weapon. They are usually granted in cases that involve:
- Threats of suicide or homicide
- Threats or harm to pets
- Escalation of violence
- Sexual violence
- A victim who is pregnant
- A defendant who abuses alcohol or drugs
Emergency relief – This is similar to a temporary order only it is issued when a judge is not available in District Court or the courthouse is closed. In most situations, a shelter for abuse victims or children will be located, but in the event that proper housing cannot be found, an emergency relief order may be granted.
Denial of relief – Occasionally an order may be denied. In any situation, a full hearing will still be scheduled where an order could be issued even if a temporary relief order was denied.
Interment early – In cases involving a minor child or children, the court may order the defendant have limited or no contact with the child or a household in which the child resides until the full hearing takes place.
If you have been the victim of abuse and would like to know more about obtaining an order for protection, contact a Maine family law attorney. At WTB Law, we work hard to get our clients the results they need.