If a person is being abused by a current or former family or household member, they can seek legal protection from the court to help stop the domestic violence. Victims of sexual assault and stalking can also get a protection order, which are sometimes separate depending on the state. In Maine, the protection order process is the same for domestic violence, rape, and stalking survivors.
What Is a Protection Order?
A protection order helps victims protect themselves from their abuser. For example, if you're a victim and you call the police on your abuser during an incident, police are far likelier to take seriously your phone call and the need to respond, if you possess a protection order. It's likelier that your abuser will be arrested for continuing to abuse you, if you possess an order.
Protection Orders in Maine
The following chart explains the basic protection order laws in Maine.
||Maine Code Revised Title 19-A, Chapter 101: Protection from Abuse and Title 15, Section 321: Protective Orders in Crimes Between Family Members
|What is Domestic Abuse?
||Maine law defines abuse for getting a protection order as any of the following acts between family or household members or dating partners:
- Attempting or causing bodily injury or offensive physical contact, including sexual assault
- Attempting or placing another in fear of bodily injury by threatening or harassing behavior
- Forcing a person to engage in conduct the person has the right to abstain from
- Credibly threatening or committing a crime of violence against a person
- Repeatedly, and without reasonable cause, following someone or being at their home, school, or workplace
- Kidnapping and/or false imprisonment
|Activity Addressed by Order
||A protection order can require or prohibit an abuser from doing certain activities related to the person protected by the order, including:
- Stop the abuser from contacting, harassing, following, or physically harming the protected person and any children or animals in the home
- Exclude the abuser from the home, school, or workplace of the protected person
- Decide spousal & child support, child custody, visitation, and pet custody matters, at least temporarily
- Require the abuser to attend certified counseling for abusers
- Prohibit the restrained person from possessing a gun, as well as a bow or other dangerous weapons
- Terminate a life insurance policy
- Divide personal property, household goods, and furnishings
- Refrain from taking or damaging property belonging to both parties
- Pay for expenses from the abuse, examples of which are medical bills, court costs, and attorney fees
|Duration of Order
||A temporary order remains in effect until the final order is served. The final order is generally granted for two years at most, but that may be extended if the protected person requests an extension and shows a need for one.
|Penalty for a Violation of Order
||In the following ways, Maine classifies crimes, including those related to violating an order of protection:
- When the offender has received prior notice, violating a protection order is treated as a Class D crime, punishable by up to 364 days of incarceration and/or a fine of $2,000.
- When the offender has only violated the terms of the order, and not received prior notice, it's treated as contempt. Contempt is punishable by up to 30 days of incarceration and a fine.
- If the conduct in which the offender has engaged is deemed to be "reckless" and as though it "creates a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury" to the victim, violating a protection order is treated as a Class C crime. A Class C Crime is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
- If the offender has repeatedly violated the order, subsequent violations are treated as Class C crimes, punishable as described immediately above.
|Who May Apply for Order
||Any abused family or household member, including children through a representative, may apply for an order. Maine provides the following as examples of such people that qualify:
- Spouses or domestic partners or former spouses or former domestic partners
- People living with or that lived with spouses
- People sharing a child
- Adult household members related by blood, marriage, or other legally recognized union
- Minor children of household members, when the offender is an adult member of the household
||Filing fees aren't charged for protection orders in Maine.
|Order Transmission to Law Enforcement
||For emergency orders, information is provided to the appropriate law enforcement agency as soon as possible. For general protective orders, a copy is provided to the police agency that is most likely to need to enforce the order.
Note: State laws change regularly. Contact a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these laws.
Research the Law
Consider reviewing the following resources for more information about laws in Maine, including those related to protection orders:
If you need more help or are interested in learning more about domestic violence and related resources, consider reviewing the following, as well:
Speak with an Attorney or Representative for More Help!
If anyone is hurting you physically, sexually, emotionally, or financially, please reach out for help. Call the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence at 1-866-834-HELP (4357) for safety planning and resources in your area. A local family law attorney or a legal aid office could be able to help you file for a protection order.
If you've been served with protection order papers, do NOT attempt to contact the person seeking protection in any way. Consider hiring an experienced Maine family law attorney. Also, if you've violated a protective order, talk to a criminal defense lawyer.