Share Your Story in Court.
As the plaintiff/petitioner you will tell his/her side of the story first. This includes your testimony, and calling any witnesses s/he may have, and entering any evidence that s/he has.
Remember it is important to tell the truth if your witnesses testimony was damaged/not clearly explained during cross examination, you may be able to ask clarifying questions during re-direct.
Sharing your story can be challenging, it's not uncommon to feel scared or embarrassed to recall every painful attack by your abuser to strangers. Once you decide to break the cycle, the abusers manipulation and tactics will fail. You will gain the strength and determination to get out of a violent situation that is tearing you down mentally, physically and emotionally.
When you are ready, we are here for you!
What Happens in Court?
During a criminal trial most courts have an advocacy center, if the victim does not want to see their abuser; they may stay in the advocacy center until their case is called.
If the victim, witnesses or family is okay with being seated in the courtroom; they are seated on the right side of the court, while their abuser if not in custody and witnesses is seated on the left.
The Judge will review the paperwork (in a criminal case) and explain his expectations of what he expects from both parties.
If the victim is the party that filed the first court papers, or pursuing criminal charges they are usually called the complaint or the petition, is considered the plaintiff or the petitioner.
4. In a criminal case the victim is cross examined; this is where you will share your story and have an opportunity to present evidence.
5. You will be sworn in meaning you state your name and to swear or affirm to tell the truth.
6. The other party is innocent until found guilty; if s/he has a lawyer you may questioned as well as your witnesses to answer more questions. This is called cross-examination.
7. The judge can and in most cases will also ask questions to you and the abuser or to any other witnesses.
8. Next, the other abuser or defendant/respondent will be allowed to present his/her case.
9. S/he can testify and tell his/her side of what happened, call their witnesses, and present evidence.
10. It is not uncommon to find the abuser and witness will have a very different story/evidence from yours.
11. It is very important to keep pictures displaying abuse, logs of excessive calls, threatening text messages and date and time of any events of threatened occurrences towards you.
12. The judge will make their decision after hearing both sides and considering all the evidence. In most cases the j judge will make a decision right away.
13. If your case is for a restraining order. The judge may grant you and sign the final restraining order that day at your hearing.
14. Make sure you get a copy, review it, if you have any question or corrections need to be made identify the error immediately.
15. Keep a copy of the order in your wallet/purse; another copy in your car and a 3rd copy with a trusted individual.
16. You can also get an extension on a temporary restraining order if you have one.