209A Reform Legislation - At a Glance

S952 (short) & S953 (long)

May 13, 2001

Thoughts and feelings of the alleged victim no longer sufficient grounds to obtain a protection order

The definition of abuse is modified: "placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm" is replaced by "threatening another with imminent serious physical harm". (S952 4; S953 5)

Violations of no-contact provisions of a protection order must be intentional

The word "violation" is replaced with the phrase "intentional violation of the no-contact provisions or any violation of any other provisions". (S952 1 & 2; S953 1 & 2)

Disincentives for fraudulent protection orders

Direction is given to judges when a plaintiff has lied to obtain a temporary abuse protection order, including: vacating the order, making a finding of fraud, and holding the plaintiff liable for costs and damages incurred by the wrongfully accused defendant. (S952 3; S953 3)

Due process: Hearings to obtain protection orders must be Evidentiary Hearings and complaints (request forms) must be signed under pains and penalties of perjury

Defendants will be allowed to present evidence in their defense when accused of domestic abuse (S953 4). Complaints (request forms) for protection orders must be signed under the pains and penalties of perjury (S953 6).

Conditions for extending a protection order are restricted

The criteria by which a restraining order can be extended are modified: The fact that no abuse has occurred can be used as an argument to deny extension of an order. [Presently in hearings to extend an order for another year, the fact that there has been no contact whatsoever between plaintiff and defendant cannot be used as an argument by the defendant to not extend the order.] (S953 13). Permanent restraining orders are no longer permitted (S953 12).

Permit police officers to choose NOT to arrest when making a call for a domestic disturbance

"Arrest shall be the preferred response..." is changed to, "an officer may arrest..." (S953 14)

Remove incentives to obtain a protection order to gain custody of minor children and deny all contact between the child and the other parent

Removes no-contact provisions with a defendant's child when the child is not the alleged victim of abuse. (S953 9 & 10)

Remove gender-specific language that selectively mandates punishments for violations resulting directly from a child support or paternity issue

Strike the gender-specific special punishments prescribed for violations of an abuse protection order that are alleged to result from a child support or paternity issue. (S953 S11)

Provide data gathering

Provide a basis for gathering data on the prevalence of restraining orders in divorce and custody litigation. (S953 7 & 8)

Return to CPF home page