Keep your address and information safe in restraining and harassment order cases

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Created April 2021

209A Restraining Order and 258E Harassment Prevention Order cases are all about keeping you and your children safe. When it comes to keeping your information safe and certain documents from the public, only you know how much safety you need.

If you are not filing a 209A or 258E, you can still ask the court to keep your information safe. See Protecting your information - Motion to Impound

  • the person on the other side of your case,
  • the public, or
  • court staff who should not be allowed to see it.

 

Keeping your address safe

Even though the Plaintiff Confidential Information Form protects your addresses, if you ask the court to order the person who abused you to stay away from your school, work and home, these addresses will be on the order.

Anyone who can see the order will see these addresses, including the person who abused you. To keep your home, work, and school address off your 209A restraining order, check Boxes 4(a), 4(b), and 4(c) on Page 1 of the 209A application. If the judge agrees, your restraining order will tell the defendant to stay away from your address “wherever that may be.

The Address Confidentiality Program tells government agencies to keep your address secret. It sets up another mailing address for you. This way nobody knows your real address except the Address Confidentiality Program and the Post Office.

Plaintiff Confidential Information Form

The Plaintiff Confidential Information Form is part of the 209A and 258E applications. On this form you give the court your:

  • name,
  • telephone number
  • home address,
  • workplace name and address, and
  • school and school address

The court keeps this information separate from the rest of your file. The person who is abusing you, their lawyer, and the public are not allowed to see the information on this form.

Only certain authorized people, like the police, the district attorney and court staff can see the information on it. But first they must file a Request for Access to Confidential Information form and the judge must approve their request.

Impound your Plaintiff Confidential Information Form

You may need the police, court staff, or the District Attorney’s Office to have no access to the information in this form because it would not be safe. For example, the person who abused you is a police officer or has a friend who works in the court. To protect the information on your Plaintiff Confidential Information Form, ask the court to “impound” it.

File a Motion for Impoundment and Affidavit in 209A and 258E cases and list the Plaintiff Confidential Information Form. Write on the Motion for Impoundment form that you do not want police or court personnel to see the form.

Motion to Impound in 209A Restraining Order and 258E Harassment Prevention cases

209A restraining order cases and 258E harassment prevention cases have a special Motion to Impound form to ask the court to protect your information and certain papers in your case from the public and court staff.

On this form, you must explain why you need the court to keep your information confidential. Your reasons to keep this information confidential must be more than simply to protect your privacy. You must show that you need the court to keep the information confidential so nobody can use it to harm you or your children

Some reasons you may need to keep information confidential are:

  • To be safe.You will be in danger if someone else finds out where you live or work.
  • Information is too sensitive.The information in the file is too sensitive to be public. Sensitive information you may need to impound could be your medical or mental health history, or history of sexual abuse. Also, you may need to keep sensitive information about your child confidential. In some cases, you can have your entire file impounded.
  • You are staying in a domestic violence shelter.If you live in a domestic violence shelter, never reveal your physical address on public court forms.

If there is anything in your 209A papers that you need to keep from the police, court staff, or the District Attorney, tell the court about it in your Motion to Impound.

If you need to keep the information on your Plaintiff Confidential Information Form from people who would normally be able to see it as part of their job, list the form in your Motion to Impound

Motion to Impound Form and Sample 

Motion for Impoundment and Affidavit in 209A and 258E cases

Sample Motion for Impoundment and Affidavit in 209A and 258E cases

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