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Who Keeps Copies of My 209A Restraining Order?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed April 2021

The court record system, the court probation department, and the police keep records of each 209A restraining order.

The court keeps a copy of your restraining order in your case file in the Court Activity Records Information (CARI) database.

The court's probation department also gets a copy of your restraining order on the same day that the judge signs it. The probation department puts information about your order into the "Statewide Domestic Violence Record Keeping System." This is a computer database that has records of new and old 209A restraining orders from all over Massachusetts.

The court also sends two copies of your order to the “appropriate law enforcement agency.” That usually means the police in the city or town where the person who abused you lives. If no one knows where to find them, then the court sends two copies of the order to the police department of the city or town where you live. The police department keeps one copy and serves the other on the person who abused you. The police should put information about the order into a database.

What if I need help from the police but I don't have a copy of my restraining order with me?

The police can enforce (act on) a 209A restraining order even if you do not have a copy of it when you call them for help. The police officers can check the police database and see information about the order there.

Is it still a good idea to keep a copy of my restraining order with me?


If you have a copy of your 209A protective order with you, the police won’t have to check the database first when you call them for help. This might mean that they can help you more quickly.

Also, there may be other people who need to know about your protective order, such as people at your workplace or at your child's school.  These people won't have any way to know about the order unless you show or give them a copy of it.

How does the probation department use its database of protective orders?

The probation department checks the "Statewide Domestic Violence Record Keeping System" each time a person asks for a new restraining order or an extension of an old order. The probation department tells the judge if the abusive person has had other 209A protective orders against them. The probation department also tells the judge if there is a warrant against the abusive person.

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