It took a Lowell District Court jury just five minutes today to find Attorney Chris Spring’s client not guilty of violating a restraining order that had been obtained against him by his daughter.
The defendant and his daughter, who is now a young adult, have had a contentious relationship for many years. When the daughter was still a teenager, her mother obtained a restraining order on her behalf that prohibited the defendant from having any contact with her. The defendant lives out of state but still periodically visits relatives in Massachusetts. In addition to prohibiting physical contact, the restraining order precludes the defendant from having telephone contact with his daughter (although he is allowed to have contact with the daughter’s mother, with whom he shared a romantic relationship for many years).
On the date in question, the daughter and her mother reported to a Chelmsford police officer that the defendant had called the mother’s phone and started shouting that he wanted to see his daughter. The mother, who was with her daughter in the car, did not give the phone to the daughter, but the daughter was allegedly able to hear parts of the conversation. The police officer charged the defendant in Lowell District Court with violating the restraining order. The defendant denied the charges and said he had not called the mother. Instead, according to the defendant, the mother had called him and started shouting about his financial obligations related to a child support order.
The Commonwealth called two witnesses – the daughter and her mother – to testify at trial. During cross-examination, they offered details of the incident that were contradictory. The mother testified that during the argument, she and the defendant were shouting at each other and they each hung up the phone several times. The mother said at least twice, she called back the defendant and continued the argument. The daughter testified her mother never called the defendant. The mother also testified she disclosed her (and her daughter’s) location to the defendant, despite the defendant’s alleged illegal demand to see his daughter. The mother was unable to produce her phone records establishing it was the defendant who called her.
Another of the defendant’s daughters was with him during the phone call and testified at trial that the defendant had not called the mother and never demanded to speak to the daughter who has the restraining order. Instead, the mother had called the defendant and could be heard screaming on the other end of the line. The defendant eventually hung up the phone.
It took the jurors just minutes to unanimously reject the Commonwealth case and acquit the defendant. Restraining order cases are dangerous because often there is no physical evidence. Therefore, if the jury believes the testimony of the person who possesses the restraining order, the defendant will often be convicted. It’s important in these cases to point out any inconsistencies in the testimony of Commonwealth witnesses and argue, as Attorney Spring did in this case, that the witnesses are biased against the defendant (which should be clear, given the existence of the restraining order). If you are charged with violating a restraining order, call Attorney Spring to schedule a free consultation.