Is the issuance of a restraining order a criminal or civil matter?
A. A restraining order, known as either a 208 or 209A abuse prevention order in Massachusetts, is a civil proceeding at its inception and thereafter. The matter only becomes criminal in nature when it is alleged that a violation of the order has occurred and a criminal complaint issues against a defendant. The policy of the District Attorney’s office in each of the several counties in Massachusetts is to relentlessly prosecute these cases and the defense of these matters should never be taken lightly.