Step 5: The hearing
If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire. If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you a final restraining order (if the “return of service” form was received by the court) or may reschedule the hearing.
You may have to prove that you have the required relationship to the defendant, especially if the defendant denies the relationship. To prove a serious dating relationship, for example, the judge will look at:
- the length of time of the relationship;
- the type of relationship you had; and
- how often you both interacted with each other.*
You may want to think through how you would prove these factors ahead of time (through witnesses, love letters s/he wrote to you, etc.), in case the defendant tries to deny that you had a serious dating relationship.
For additional tips, see the Preparing Your Case page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused. You may want to strongly consider getting a lawyer to help with your case, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If the abuser shows up with a lawyer, you can ask the judge for a "continuance" (a later court date) so that you have time to find a lawyer. To find a lawyer in your area, please visit the RI Finding a Lawyer page.
* RI Gen. Laws §§ 8-8.1-1(5); 15-15-1(10)