What is a Restraining Order or Protection Order?

493074197To file a request for a restraining order you must contact the district attorney’s office in your city or county. You can make your appeal directly if you prefer but you can also hire a criminal defense to file the necessary papers for you.

Before the restraining order can be issued you will have to provide evidence to support your claims. However, a sworn statement from the victim is usually sufficient to convince a judge to issue a temporary restraining order, which goes into effect immediately. After the accused person has been notified a courtroom hearing will be held to determine if the temporary restraining order should be upgraded to something more substantial.

During this hearing you will be asked to offer more substantial evidence to back up your claims of harassment or victimization. Acceptable forms of proof could include police statements, medical records, corroborating eyewitness or ear-witness testimony, video or audio recordings, evidence of damage to private property or written threats in the form of emails, text messages, social media posts or handwritten letters.

In order to have the restraining order extended you won’t have to prove “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” as would be required in a conventional criminal case. The standard used here is called “the preponderance of the evidence,” which means you will have to persuade the judge that your allegations of abuse are more likely to be true than false.

If the judge finds in your favor the status of the restraining order will change from temporary to permanent. Despite the name a permanent order usually expires after a certain period of time, most likely from two to 10 years. However, should you have a change of heart you can have the restraining order lifted at any time.

Making the Law Work for You

There is of course no guarantee that a person subject to a restraining order will obey it. But once it has been issued, in either temporary or permanent form, it is the duty of the police to see that it is enforced. If the perpetrator violates the order you can have him or her arrested. Charges will be filed, a trial will be held and if your tormentor is found guilty a prison term may be the final result.

A restraining order is not a perfect solution. But if you have been victimized by a toxic person a restraining order can help restore your sense of security and give you at least some peace of mind.

Follow us at the Judge’s Chamber: Law Blog for more valuable information about the workings of our fascinating legal system.

How to Behave in a Courtroom

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When you are a defendant or plaintiff in a courtroom proceeding, you shouldn’t expect to prevail based on the truth alone.

No matter how convinced you are of the righteousness of your cause judges and juries won’t automatically give you the benefit of the doubt. If you want them to take you seriously you must prove your case and establish yourself as a reliable, trustworthy and dependable person.

Six Principles of Conduct

Fairly or unfairly, your conduct in the courtroom can play a decisive role in the final resolution of your case.

Here are a few important principles of proper courtroom behavior you should always try to observe …

  1. Dress for success

Comfort and personal expression don’t matter but the impression you make on the judge and jury does. Suits, dress shirts and pants for men and a business suit or other type of workplace-appropriate outfit for women are good choices. Be sure to wear dress shoes, not sneakers or sandals.

  1. Follow instructions to the letter

Do what bailiffs, court attendants and judges tell you to do. Go where they tell you to go and don’t assume a combative or non-cooperative attitude. If you don’t understand an instruction ask a court official about it politely and thank them for their response.

  1. Speak only when you’re supposed too

Don’t interrupt judges or lawyers—not even your own—and don’t speak to family or friends sitting in the gallery. Cell phones are forbidden in courtrooms so don’t even think about using one, even if court isn’t officially in session.

  1. Watch your body language

Body language that expresses excessive or negative emotion, such as eye rolling, hand waving, crossed arms, finger pointing or wild gesturing should be avoided. Listen intently when others are testifying, or conversing with the judge, and remain calm and under control when your turn comes to speak.

  1. Speak clearly and politely

If you are required to speak to the court, stand up, address the judge as “your honor” and don’t shout, mumble or whisper. Never show impatience if the judge or opposing attorney interrupts you to ask for clarification. Maintain eye contact with judges, attorneys or jury members as appropriate, and when you finish speaking say ‘thank you’ and return to your seat promptly.

  1. Answer questions directly, honestly and respectfully – but don’t let yourself be rushed

When testifying keep your answers brief and to-the-point. Resist the temptation to embellish your statements or accent them by gesturing or raising your voice. If you find a particular question combative or hostile don’t respond aggressively or react with defensiveness. Take your time to gather your thoughts before responding and never let the opposing counsel bait you or rush you into answering too quickly.

Respect the Court and the Court will Respect You

A composed, careful, dignified manner lets the judge, jury and court officers know you take the proceedings seriously. Demonstrate respect and you will gain it in return, and if the facts truly are on your side your chances of winning your case will be significantly enhanced.

Follow us at the Judge’s Chamber: Law Blog for more thoughts and insights on the legal process, in all of its complexities and dimensions.