Generally speaking, petitions and temporary orders of protection are either served by the Police Department or the Sheriff’s Department. If the filer already has an attorney upon filing the petition, sometimes the judge will give them the option of having the attorney arrange for the petition and temporary order to be served.
Does The Respondent Have Any Idea That An Order Of Protection Has Been Filed Against Them Before Being Served?
The only way a respondent would get an idea that a petition has been filed is if the victim has said something directly to them or to a third party. There is no possible way they can know by accessing any kind of court website or anything similar to that because all family court filings are confidential.
How Soon After A Petition Is Served Will We Have A Court Date?
Regarding this question, it tends to vary with the county as well as the urgent or non-urgent nature of the petition. Certainly, if a person has been assaulted with a weapon, then the court may schedule a very quick date within a matter of a couple of days. There may also be instances where the court is essentially kicking someone out of their house by entering what’s called a “stay away order of protection” from the residence that they used to live in. In that case, the court would tend to schedule the court dates relatively quickly.
As far as the time that the accused has to respond, the person will go in and usually give what’s called a “general denial” in the family court, which is the equivalent of pleading not guilty. This is simply orally done on the return date of the petition. They do have the option of filing a formal answer to the petition. It’s something that is not required but I sometimes recommend it. Every single time the case comes back up on that judge’s docket, the judge may want to refresh his or her recollection with what the case entails. If s/he cracks open your court file and if the only thing s/he looks at, over and over again, is the allegation of domestic violence, it tends to plant a seed in the judge’s mind. Filing an answer to the petition lays out your side of things and when the judge reviews your case prior to coming in, they will review both the petition and the answer with what your responses are.
If The Family Offense Case Cannot Be Settled, Will It Go To Trial?
Unless there is an application, pre-trial, to dismiss the case and that is granted, the only way to resolve the case without a settlement is by going to trial.
If The Court Finds The Allegations To Be True In A Family Offense Case, What Happens Next?
What the court finds is that the allegations have been sustained by what is called a preponderance of the evidence. This is the equivalent of the judge determining that it is more likely than not, that a family offense has been committed. If there is a sustaining of the allegation, then the court will proceed to what’s called a dispositional hearing. Oftentimes, that’s a very quick hearing where the judge finds that the petition has been sustained by a preponderance of the evidence. Oftentimes, they enter an order of protection. The only debate is how long the order of protection is and what the exact terms of the order of protection are.
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