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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    2

    Default Did the Defendant Violate the Protection from Harassment Order

    My question involves restraining orders in the State of: Maine

    I recently obtained a permanent Protection from Harassment order against a woman who violently assaulted me three months ago. The order states amongst other things, that she is not to have an direct or indirect contact with me.

    We went through the mediation process however, and I asked the mediator if I was in a restaurant or bar first, and she arrived and was aware of my presence, would she violate the order if she stayed. The mediator said that she would have to leave in such a situation or she would be violating the order.

    Last night, I was with my boyfriend at a local bar having a 4th of July cocktail, when this woman and her boyfriend arrived. I don't think she saw me when she walked in, but as soon as she sat only ONE bar stool away from me, she absolutely noticed me then. None the less, they ordered a drink and made no attempt to relocate as far away from me as possible or to leave the bar altogether. I loudly said to my boyfriend, "It would be wise for some people to go to a different bar", so that she would hear me. Still she made no effort to leave. After about two minutes, I told my boyfriend I was going to go outside for a cigarette and that if she didn't leave within 5 minutes I was going to call the police to violate her.

    I ended up reporting her and the police came, but to my shock and dismay, they didn't arrest her but instead told her to leave.

    In light of this, I have two questions,

    1. What is the legal definition of "direct or indirect contact"?
    2. Did she violate the order by not leaving when she noticed me, and by remaining seated only one stool away from me?

    Thank you in advance for any answers or input!

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Did the Defendant Violate the Protection from Harassment Order

    I haven't read the order; but I expect that she violated the order. Have you talked to the prosecutor on the assault case?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Did the Defendant Violate the Protection from Harassment Order

    Has the order actually been officially served on her? Even if she sat in mediation and would be expected to know the terms, until it has been served on her, it's not in the system and law enforcement won't be enforcing it. So check on that first.

    If the underlying question is: "she violated it but police did nothing, now what?", you head down to the police department and get a printout of the dispatch record of that call - this record exists for ANY police call for esrvice, whether a report was taken or not. It will show the place, date, time, the name of the caller (you) and the names of any other people that police contacted on that call (her). If the order was in effect (properly served) on that day, that printout is your proof for the court that its order was violated. Contact the Clerk's office and get that printout in front of the judge so an order for her arrest for contempt of court can be issued.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Default Re: Did the Defendant Violate the Protection from Harassment Order

    Quote Quoting aardvarc
    View Post
    Has the order actually been officially served on her? Even if she sat in mediation and would be expected to know the terms, until it has been served on her, it's not in the system and law enforcement won't be enforcing it. So check on that first.

    If the underlying question is: "she violated it but police did nothing, now what?", you head down to the police department and get a printout of the dispatch record of that call - this record exists for ANY police call for esrvice, whether a report was taken or not. It will show the place, date, time, the name of the caller (you) and the names of any other people that police contacted on that call (her). If the order was in effect (properly served) on that day, that printout is your proof for the court that its order was violated. Contact the Clerk's office and get that printout in front of the judge so an order for her arrest for contempt of court can be issued.
    Hi Mr. Knowitall and aardvarc, and thank you for your replies! To answer a few of your questions, The final PFH order was served the day we went to court for the hearing, even though there wasn't a hearing, as we were able to come to an agreement in mediation.

    The order states,
    The Court Finds as Follows:
    The parties have agreed to the following order, which is made without findings of harassment. (On a side note, I totally regret not having had the hearing because I have every confidence that even without an attorney to represent me, I had more than enough evidence to prove harassment beyond a reasonable doubt. The reason I didn't was because I felt totally railroaded by the mediator into making an agreement instead of choosing the hearing..UGHHH)

    Then it says,
    Therefore, it is hereby ORDERED AS FOLLOWS:
    A. The defendant is prohibited from harassing, threatening, assaulting, molesting, attacking or otherwise abusing eht plaintiff and if applicable, the plaintiff's employees.
    B. The defendant is prohibited from going upon ghe premises of the plaintiff's residence or property.
    C.(WAS NOT CHECKED...but said, The defendant is restrained from interfering with or destroying plaintiff's property.)
    D. The defendant is restrained from, repeatedly and without reasonable cause, following the plaintiff. ( I had to fight like heck just to get the mediator to check this box. She asked me, "has she ever done this before?", and I said, "I don't know for sure, but even if she hasn't there is a first time for everything, I mean she never punched me in the face before as she did on March 15th, or caused me to have surgery on my shoulder as a result of her assault against me, so what's to say there wouldn't be a first time for her to follow me?". In the end the box got checked.)
    E. The defendant is restrained from, repeatedly and without reasonable cause being at or in the vicinity of the plaintiff;s home, school, business or place of employment.
    F. The defendant is restrained from having any direct or indirect contact with the plaintiff.


    While the order doesn't state that she is to remain a certain number of feet away from me, it does state that she cannot have direct or indirect contact with me, which, in my mind, was the basis for the violation. However, the officer's who responded to the situation told me that direct contact would have meant that she spoke to me or made some sort of gesture towards me, and that indirect would mean that she had her boyfriend tell me something from her, or tell me boyfriend to say something to me from her. Frankly that floored me. I don't understand how direct contact could not include the act of having intentional close range physical proximity to the plaintiff. Even if she didn't see me sitting there at first, she did see me and make eye contact with me before she ordered a drink. At the point of seeing me, she could have left. The fact that she ordered the drink, and stayed, just one stool away from me, was an obvious attempt to intimidate me and cause me discomfort.

    I have not yet talked to the prosecutor on the assault case but I have written a letter that I will be able to mail tomorrow, and since I wrote the original post, I did call the lead officer back again, to express my frustration and disagreement about the outcome. Finally he did agree to pass the complaint along to the DA to review, and to let the DA make the final call about violating her or not. That has given me some satisfaction at least.

    Thank you both for your input, it's greatly appreciated! I am wondering what you think about the definition of "direct contact", in regards to this situation, and also, If you have any other input based on what I've said here, I'd love to hear it.

    Thanks again!
    Sacogirl

  5. #5

    Default Re: Did the Defendant Violate the Protection from Harassment Order

    The best legal advice in this type of situation is: don't rely on others to interpret what the court meant by direct vs indirect. You got one police officer's take on the situation. Another officer's take may have been different. If in doubt, go right to the horses mouth and get the COURT's take on it. Ultimately I think it's not going to be an issue of direct vs indirect but an issue surrounding this particular phrase:

    "without reasonable cause"

    The officer apparantly felt that her showing up with a companion and not attempting to make direct contact with you (didn't approach you, try to talk to you, etc.) indicated that the two of you ending up at the same place at the same time was chance. If it was a single incident, that's reasonable. If she's showing up all over town, that could be seen in a different light.

    Not each and every time you two end up under the same room will necessarily constitute a violation. For example, you go to the emergency room with a broken arm. She goes to the emergency room with a bad cut that needs stitches. You're both sitting in the waiting room. No police officer will make her leave just because this order is in place, and no judge would penalize her for being in a place that she obviously needs to be just because fate put you both there at the same time. In other words, she had "reasonable cause" to be there that had nothing to do with you. If you feel the situation you described is a violation, you can always ask the court to review it - but the burden would be on you to show that she had no reasonable cause to be there (her defenses are many and generally unproveable; she goes there all the time, it was the guy's idea not hers and she didn't know you'd be there, they'd made reservations days earlier, etc. etc. ).

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