The person seeking a protection order (the "plaintiff") must file a sworn "Complaint for Protection from Abuse" in District Court. There is no filing fee required. The court will usually enter a temporary emergency protection order if it plaintiff makes plausible claim of abuse. The defendant is then served by law enforcement.
A hearing is then scheduled before a judge. At the hearing, the plaintiff must prove that (1) the defendant "abused" the plaintiff or the plaintiff's child; and, (2) that the defendant is a "family or household member".
Under the Protection from Abuse law in Maine, "Abuse" means:
Family or household member includes:
The if the court finds that the defendant abused the plaintiff it can make certain orders including:
If a defendant knowingly violates a protection temporary or final protection order, he or she may be charged with a Class D misdemeanor. A Class D misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in jail, up to two years of probation and a fine of up to $2,000.00. In some cases the defendant can be charged with a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison, three years of probation and a $5,000.00 fine.
A conviction for violating a protection order can elevate a future domestic violence charge to a Class C felony even if the violation and the future domestic charge are both "minor" in nature. For instance, if a defendant pleads guilty to violating a protection order for having contact with the plaintiff's consent and is subsequently charged with spitting on a "family or household member", he or she could be charged with a Class C felony.
A judge can order that a final protection order last up to two years. However, the protection order can be extended long beyond two years for a good reason.
Sometimes. Provisions concerning contact with children and the parties' finances and property may be modified for good cause, even over the plaintiff's objection. Occasionally a "no firearms" prohibition will be modified over the plaintiff's objection. Rarely will a "no contact" prohibition be terminated or modified over a plaintiff's objection.
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