Getting a Sexual Assault Protective Order: What happens in court?
If the respondent comes to the hearing you will most likely see each other. You should ask the court’s staff for a safe space to wait for your hearing. You can also request that the respondent be held until after you have left the building when the hearing is over.
If the respondent does not show up at the set court date, the judge may decide to grant you a protective order by “default.” The court may want to make a record of the default and may ask you questions about the order you are requesting on the record.
The protective order is a civil lawsuit and criminal charges are separate, criminal court actions. Each case has different requirements and one does not affect the other, except that if a record is made in the protective order hearing, the criminal court can introduceyour previous sworn testimony into evidence.
For this reason, it is important to contact an attorney before filing a protective order. It is also important to review your statements before court and make sure you are consistent with each one. Court can be stressful, especially is your abuser is present. The more you review your statement before court, the better prepared you will be.
Also note, it is OK to say you don’t remember something if you really don’t remember it. Attorneys in court may ask you for many details that you cannot remember. It is better to say you don’t remember than to try and guess.