Domestic Violence Final Restraining Order – Plaintiff Steps
You have a temporary restraining order in place. Now, you proceed to the domestic violence final restraining order hearing. start with the winning mindset. Then, follow these steps to succeed at your domestic violence final restraining order hearing.
Domestic violence final restraining order – Burden of proof
The plaintiff always has the burden of proof. The standard is called the preponderance of the evidence. Simply stated, the plaintiff must prove that the allegations set forth are more likely than not to have occurred. Some people use 51% as the standard. If the plaintiff’s narrative stands up 51% and the defendants narrative equals 49%. The plaintiff has met the standard of proof.
Domestic violence final restraining order – Jurisdiction
Who can get a final restraining order?
Importantly, the plaintiff and defendant must have a certain status. For example, the parties must have a relationship such as spouse, former spouse, living together, lived together, parent or child. These are the most common relationships qualifying under the prevention of domestic violence statute. 1991 Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. If you are representing yourself, the court will inquire as to the nature of your relationship with the other party at the start of the hearing.
Submitting evidence for your a domestic violence final restraining order hearing
The plaintiff is entitled to submit evidence and testimony. Testimony can come from the plaintiff. Likewise, testimony can come from other witnesses to an act of domestic violence or an by the defendant. Often times, police will be called to a potential domestic violence incident. During the investigation, plaintiffs and defendants will tell their version of the story to the police. We police officers may become Witnesses.
Documentary and photograph evidence can be compelling. Timely photographs of an injury should be submitted. Email and text messages must be downloaded and printed or converted to a PDF and load it up to the court.
Evidence submission during the pandemic
Presently, all evidence in family cases including domestic violence final restraining order cases must be submitted electronically. The link to the filing system is attached here – JEDS Filing System. Put your documents and pictures in a logical order. Attempt to number them and convert everything into a PDF. You may need to break up a bigger package into one or more submissions. Don’t worry. Nobody is perfect at this electronic court system operation just yet.
Time for Testimony at your domestic violence final restraining order hearing
First, calm down. Excessive fast-talking is no good. Similarly loud emotional crying outbursts throughout your testimony is an unwelcome distraction. Emotion is normal. Excessive outbursts will not help your case.
Second, start with the recent and most serious accusation. This is called the predicate act. You must prove that the defendant’s conduct violated one of the enumerated. For example, harassment.
Harassment is defined by Statute. Here is the harassment statute language:
Except as provided in subsection e., a person commits a petty disorderly persons offense if, with purpose to harass another, he:
a.Makes, or causes to be made, a communication or communications anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm;
b.Subjects another to striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching, or threatens to do so; or
c.Engages in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts with purpose to alarm or seriously annoy such other person.
A communication under subsection a. may be deemed to have been made either at the place where it originated or at the place where it was received.
Be clear to explain the event to the Family Court Judge understanding that the Judge will have this exact wording on the bench.
Prior history – domestic violence final restraining order hearing
After you testify about the main most egregious incident or incidence you may speak about prior history. Prior history of domestic violence can be explained in order. For example if the incidents began one year ago, you can start one year ago and build your way back up to the main incident that you already spoke to.
Most self-represented litigants have difficulty with cross-examination. If the other side is self-represented don’t worry so much about cross-examination. After your case is done, the defendant has the opportunity to testify. You have the right to cross-examine. Try to do a good job. The key is to ask questions that produce a yes or no answer importantly, do not get into squabbles with the other Witness. Ask leading questions. If the defendant will not answer your questions, count on the Family Court Judge to jump in.
You will not become an expert in cross-examination. However, check out this short Cross Examination video.
How to answer the Family Court Judge’s questions
Answer the question the Family Court Judge asks. If the question deals with a date or time oh, your answer should be a date, day of the week, time of day, season of the year – don’t tell more than the question calls for. Similarly, make reasonable eye contact with the Family Court Judge. We are in a weird Zoom Court world. You do not have to stare at the screen every second. However, you may not put your head down so the Family Court Judge never sees your face or eyeballs.
Trust the process
Coming out of a violent relationship is very difficult. Your trust in others may be at an all-time low. Follow logical steps, stay cool and Trust the process. The court and the prevention of domestic violence Act is designed to protect you.