Maine: Restraining Orders

  1. Protection from Abuse Orders (PFA) / Protection from Harassment Orders (PFH)

    1. Introduction

      Victims of nonconsensual online publication of sexually explicit material would likely be able to obtain a restraining order to prohibit the perpetrator from continuing to harass the victim online. In Maine, there are (1) protection from abuse orders for domestic violence victims or for elderly, dependent, or incapacitated adults, as well as (2) protection from harassment orders.

      A protection from abuse order is a civil order that protects someone from harm by a family or household member or dating partner. It also applies to victims of stalking/sexual assault where the stalking/sexual assault is not perpetrated by a family/household member.

      A protection from harassment order is a civil order that protects someone, his or her family, or his or her business from harassment regardless of the harasser’s relationship to the person.

    2. Text of Statute(s)

      Protection From Abuse: Me. Rev. Stat. 19-A §§ 4001-4014

      Protection From Harassment: Me. Rev. Stat. 5 §§ 4651

    3. Cases

      1. Clark v. McLane, 86 A.3d 655 (Me. 2014)

        • Procedural Posture: Appeal from PFA order
        • Law: PFA
        • Facts: Ex-girlfriend instituted protection from abuse proceedings against ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend threatened to place nude photographs of ex-girlfriend on a website with her cellular telephone number and her work number so that users could call her and “arrange a date,” and to publicize the website to ex-girlfriend’s coworkers and potential employers by sending e-mails and promoting it on search engines. The District Court issued a PFA order.
        • Outcome: The court affirmed the lower court’s issuance of the PFA order, finding that the ex-boyfriend’s conduct was “abuse” supporting an order under statute governing such orders between dating partners, as ex-boyfriend’s conduct was an attempt to humiliate ex-girlfriend and to cause her to avoid going to work.
      2. Jefts v. Dennis, 931 A.2d 1055 (Me. 2007)

        • Procedural Posture: Appeal from PFH order
        • Law: Harassment/PFH
        • Facts: Ex-husband filed complaint for protection from harassment against ex-wife. The District Court issued permanent order for protection from harassment against the ex-wife.
        • Outcome: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the lower court decision, saying that trial court did not err in finding that ex-wife’s repeated e-mail messages and embarrassing fax messages, sent to machine in central location in ex-husband’s office, constituted three or more acts of intimidation directed against ex-husband.
    4. Practice Pointers

      A WMC victim would have a strong basis to seek a PFA or PFH to get a court to order the perpetrator to stop engaging in inappropriate sharing of photos/videos (or, in the case of threats, to issue an order to prevent such conduct).

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