The first thing you need to be aware of is if there is a temporary order in place when you are served the order. A temporary protection order takes effect as soon as it is signed by a judge. However, the defendant must have actual notice of the temporary order, or have been served with the order, in order to be charged with a crime for violating it. Even if you feel that the allegations are false and the case is eventually found in your favor, the temporary order still must be respected or you could face criminal charges. For example, if the temporary order prohibits you from entering a home you shared with the plaintiff, you will be charged with a crime if you enter the house, even if the plaintiff has invited you. Violation of a temporary protection order is a Class D crime that carries penalties of up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
Difference between harassment and abuse order
The biggest difference is generally who is involved in the case and the action that is alleged to have taken place. Protection from abuse involves family or sexual partners. Some examples of defendants in PFA cases would include a spouse or ex-spouse; a domestic partner or ex-domestic partner; or a current or former dating partner or intimate partner. For the full list, check out the guide at https://www.courts.maine.gov/maine_courts/district/pa-ph-guide.pdf
Harassment cases normally do not involve family or domestic partners. Harassment is three or more acts of intimidation, confrontation, actual or threatened physical force by the defendant, made with the intention of causing fear, intimidation, or damage to personal property, and which do in fact cause fear, intimidation, or damage to personal property; or a single act or course of conduct constituting a serious criminal act, such as sexual assault, terrorizing, kidnapping, aggravated assault, arson, or violation of privacy; or violating or interfering with the plaintiff ’s constitutional or civil rights.
What will my court appearance look like
Your case will be scheduled for a final hearing within 21 days unless you have withdrawn the case. If the temporary order was granted, it must still be followed in court. When you arrive, make a strong effort to stay away from the plaintiff and sit on the other side of the courtroom if possible.
The Judge will take the bench and call the cases. You should stand when called and let the judge know who you are in the case. Then you will be given a chance to try to work out an agreement in the case either through lawyers or possibly through a third party mediator. There are often benefits to coming to an agreement and avoiding a final hearing for both sides.
Should I have a lawyer
Often these cases are more complicated than you think. The benefit of an attorney may be much greater than you think in these cases. For example, if the case was to go to a final hearing, the rules of evidence are in place. You may not be able to explain your case the way you want and could end up with a ruling you did not expect because you could not defend your case properly. A finding of abuse could greatly impact your life and the criminal charges that come with violating an order could be even worse. Feel free to call the Webb Law Firm today at 207-283-6400 and arrange a free consultation to discuss your case. Please contact us today. We provide a free initial consultation to go over your case with you.