Guest Author - Jeanette Stingley
You finally got up the nerve to call the police to help you; there has been an arrest, now what will happen, you may be wondering. Before going to court to present your case to a judge, careful planning and organizing is very important.
You should plan to bring whatever will help you show the courts that abuse has taken place. If you can get another person to come to testify about your abuse, this would be a big help. Friends, neighbors, or a relative who has seen you bruised, bleeding, or your abuser do things to you can be a great asset to your case. Medical records if you had to go to the emergency room and any police reports should has be put into a folder to bring with you. Most of the time, the police reports, and medical reports are sent to the courts prior to the hearing, but you having a copy of them will help in case paperwork gets lost.
The strongest piece of evidence in your favor is a photo of any injuries you receive. Police often do this for you to take along to the police station. Emergency rooms may be able to do this as well. Sometimes it is best to wait a day or 2 after an attack because bruises may show up after the incident. If possible, try to use a camera that has a time stamp on the photo when it is developed.
It is very important for you to speak up in court and let the judge know what has been done to you no matter how embarrassing it is to you. When I went to get my restraining order, I met in a room with a magistrate and no one else. At the hearing after my abuser violated the restraining order (he committed a felony by violating the terms of it), the judge read what was said to the magistrate, asked me if I still stood by my statements and accusations made in that document. She didnít read it out loud. It may help if you make a list of things you want to tell the judge or request the judge to do so you donít leave anything out. Witnesses are strong for your case but what you present is the most important aspect of what the judge will consider.
Most times a judge will either order some type of intervention program for your abuser to go through while in jail or upon his/her release. My abuser was required to attend and pay for anger management classes. This may be something you want to bring up to the judge.
If you incur bills or expenses because of the abuser, you can bring these before the judge as well. For instance, did he punch some holes in the walls that the landlord is going to make you pay for? Did she cause damage to your car with a baseball bat? The judge may order your abuser to reimburse you for this!
And lastly, make sure you show up to court!!! I was a witness to a man attacking his wife by a store at the corner from my house. She did not show up twice to the hearings. The only thing that kept that man in jail was me showing up and saying I saw what I saw. I understand it is a scary thing to go to court, but he would have been released that day if it were not for me being there. I was terrified to face my abuser at court but I wanted him to pay for what he did and keep my children safe and myself.