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?
While a protection order is just a piece of paper, it’s also a court order that allows the protected persons to call the police if the person restrained by the order tries to come near them, shows up at their home, or tries to communicate with them. The police can then arrest the restrained person for violating the order. When used as part of a holistic safety plan, protection orders can be an effective tool to help a victim leave an abusive situation.
Mutual protective orders aren’t available in Maine because the abuse it addresses isn’t mutual, it’s when one person tries to dominate another.
Protection Orders in Maine
The following chart explains the basic protective 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, etc.
- 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, without reasonable cause following someone or being at his or her 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 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 work of 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
- Order termination of 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, like medical bills, court costs, and attorney's 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 and shows a need for an extension.
|Penalty for a Violation of Order
||Violating a protection order in Maine is generally a Class D crime. However, if violation has to do with support orders, payment of costs, attending batterers’ intervention treatment, etc. it’s treated as contempt.
If the violation involves assaulting the protected person or causing him or her a substantial risk of death or serious physical harm, it’s a Class C crime. A Class C crime can be sentenced to up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. A Class D crime is subject to only one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
|Who May Apply for Order
||Any abused family or household member, including children through a representative.
||Yes, filing fees can’t be charged for protection orders in Maine.
|Order Transmission to Law Enforcement
||For emergency orders, information to law enforcement agency as soon as possible. For general protective orders, a copy to police agency most likely to need to enforce order.
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.
Note: State laws change regularly, contact a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these laws.
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