What should I do before the hearing to prepare my case?
Contact witnesses who saw the abuse or your injuries.
Anyone can be a witness – a friend, family member, children, emergency room nurse, doctor, stranger, law enforcement officer, etc. Some witnesses may not come to court unless they are given a subpoena. A subpoena is a document that orders someone to come and testify. Ask the Court clerk how to subpoena a witness.
Get evidence to help you prove your case. Evidence can include medical reports, pictures, torn or broken objects, 911 tapes, certified copies of the defendant’s criminal record, or anything else to help you convince the judge you have suffered acts of domestic violence and need certain relief and protection. Even if you have no physical evidence or witnesses, the judge will listen to your story.
Practice telling your story. You may want to make an outline or notes of the history of violence by your abuser. You may take notes to court with you to look at if you forget something, but if you read from them, the judge may order that your abuser be allowed to see them. Tell your story in your own words, but leave out details that have nothing to do with the violence or threats of violence. Also, rather than saying, “he or she hit me,” tell the judge how you were hit, where on your body you were hit, and how many times. Be specific.
You may want to mention:
- The last 2 incidents of violence
- The worst 2 incidents of violence
- Whether the respondent has a gun or other weapons
- Whether the respondent has threatened to physically hurt or kill you