Maksim Zylyftari, a Roslindale man, was arrested April 29, 2013 for a 209A restraining order violation after the alleged victim invited him to her residence. The order issued from the West Roxbury District Court on April 22, 2013. Police allegedly went to the defendant’s address to confirm that the defendant had been served with the restraining order. When they arrived, the alleged victim, the defendant’s wife, told the officers that the defendant was in the home playing with their daughter. The defendant allegedly admitted to being served with the order but said that his wife called him over to the residence to “try to work things out.” The officers arrested the defendant and advised the victim that she should not contact her husband because of the active order.
This story illustrates a misunderstanding that parties to Massachusetts 209A restraining orders and 258E Harassment Prevention Orders commonly encounter. When there is an active restraining order in effect, contact with the plaintiff is a criminal offense, even if the plaintiff welcomes the contact. After the order issues and while it is active, it is not up to the plaintiff to decide, without court involvement, that he or she no longer wants the order to be effective. Often times, persons get restraining orders on a whim and, shortly thereafter, decide that they want to work things out with their partner. Restraining order defendants should be careful to remember that it is the court’s order, not the plaintiff’s order. If a plaintiff changes his or her mind and no longer wants the restraining order to be effective, then he or she should go to the court and ask that it be vacated. Here, an experienced criminal defense lawyer might be able to convince the prosecution not to go forward with this case, as it is apparent that the alleged victim does not desire it. However, particularly when it comes to cases involving domestic violence, prosecutors can be reluctant to do so.
It is an unfortunate reality that Massachusetts 209A abuse prevention orders are often used by vindictive ex-spouses or partners to bully restraining order defendants. Massachusetts courts tend to issue these orders freely and based on very little proof. Victimized restraining order defendants are then restricted in their daily lives and may even be excluded from involvement in the lives of their children. Restraining orders might have the effects of evicting a defendant from a shared residence, forcing a defendant to forfeit firearms, or temporarily causing a defendant to lose custody of minor children. It is critical to retain an experienced Massachusetts attorney to fight issuance of a 209A abuse prevention order.