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Court & Legal Questions and Answers

Some of the questions domestic violence victims commonly ask when they first appear in court are,

What will happen today?

Today is the arraignment, which is the defendant’s first appearance in front of the judge. The defendant will make the decision to plead guilty/not guilty or to continue the arraignment to a later date. If the defendant pleads guilty he/she may be sentenced today.

What happens if the defendant pleads not guilty?

The matter will be set for trial at a later date and you and all the witnesses will be subpoenaed to testify at the trial.

What is a subpoena?

A subpoena is a court order requiring your appearance for a court proceeding. If you don’t appear in court you could be found in contempt of court and face possible fines or jail.

What is a No Contact Order?

A No Contact Order relates to the criminal case and it is an order that prohibits the defendant from initiating any contact with the victim and other persons named in the case. If the case is dismissed or the defendant is found not guilty the No Contact Order will terminate.

What is a Restraining Order?

A “Restraining Order” is a civil protective order issued at county court and can be made permanent. It provides protection throughout the United States.

Can I drop the charges?

Generally no. This is a criminal case and it is within the sole authority of the City Attorney to decide whether a case will go forward, not the victim.

Does the Court Advocacy Program provide services for my children?

Yes, a child advocate is available to answer parents’ questions, provide emotional support to children, and give referrals for children’s and parent’s counseling. If your children are subpoenaed to testify, our children’s advocate is available to work with them to help with concerns and fears related to the court process.