At the restraining order hearing you have a chance to tell the judge what happened and refute allegations of abuse. Bringing documents and testimony can help, learn more tips for successfully winning a restraining order hearing.
You may be able to discredit petitioner’s evidence, like proof that you were not at the location and time of an alleged incident.
1. Be Prepared
When you go to a hearing you should be prepared to tell the Judge about the violence and harassment you’ve suffered. You’ll also have a chance to present evidence you have gathered such as witnesses, documents, pictures or recordings. Remember that your testimony is evidence too and being able to recount the incident and answer questions in a clear and organized way can be extremely helpful.
At the hearing you’ll be asked questions by the Judge and the abuser/defendant’s lawyer. They may ask leading questions but it’s important to be prepared with answers that are truthful. The judge will then review the situation and decide on an order of protection.
Be sure to file the Proof of Service (In Person) form DV-200 with the clerk and bring copies of it with you to your hearing. This shows the judge and police that you served the restrained person with the restraining order papers. It’s best to serve the restrained person with both the restraining order papers and the Notice of New Hearing and Order on Reissuance.
2. Be Composed
Getting emotional and losing your temper in court will not serve you well. Even if you’re extremely upset, you must try to keep calm and focus on what the judge is asking you. If the person who filed the restraining order against you is also in court, be sure to request that they sit as far away from you as possible.
It’s a good idea to bring any photos or documents that could help prove your case in court. Make three copies of anything you want the judge to review, including text messages and emails. You should also bring a list of witnesses. A witness is a person who can confirm your story by testifying in court about what they saw or heard.
After you present your evidence, the Respondent will have a chance to question you and any witnesses. This is called cross examination. The Court may then decide whether or not to turn your TOP into a permanent order and how long the Order will last.
3. Don’t Get Angry
A restraining order is a civil order, and a Judge will decide whether the alleged victim (the petitioner) can prove that they have been harassed or threatened by the person that the restraining order applies to. It’s important for someone who has been served a restraining order to partner with an experienced attorney as soon as possible so that they can gather proof and rebut the Petition in Court.
This evidence can include third party witnesses who can vouch for the allegations and testify about the facts of the case. The more evidence that can be presented, the more likely it is that a judge will reject or change the restraining order.
It’s also important to remember that the judge who makes a decision on a restraining order is a human being and they will hear both sides of the story. The most effective way to approach the hearing is with calmness, because getting angry will not help your case in the least.
4. Don’t Break the Rules
In order to get past the preliminary screening and actually have a protection order hearing, you must report that you have been threatened or harassed in some way. If you don’t, courts are picky about who they will allow to proceed. They also require a lot of proof at the hearing that you have a legitimate reason to request an order. This includes a criminal background check and other evidence you may be able to provide.
At the hearing, the judge will review all of your evidence and decide whether to issue a permanent order or dismiss the case. It is important to attend this hearing so you can present your side of the story and answer questions from the judge or police officers.
The final protection order will include any or all of the restrictions included in your TRO and can last up to indefinitely. If you have kids, the order can also include a temporary plan for custody and parenting time (visitation). Take Form DV-130 with you to the hearing and ask the server to complete Proof of Service (In Person) for you. Make two copies of the completed form, and bring them to the hearing.