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Common Misconceptions Regarding Domestic Violence Cases


Interviewer: What are some of their most common misconceptions or misperceptions about the whole process and what may happen with them?

James Abate: One misconception is that they do not realize that there are two separate court systems they’re dealing with.  The first court system is the family court which is evaluating the final restraining order, and the second system is the criminal court system where they’re facing criminal charges for the acts which led to the issuance of the TRO. I think people also don’t realize that the impact that this order can have on their marital and custody situations with the children that you can be told to get out of your own house and told that you still have to pay for that house. I’ve had cases where the husband is told just to leave the house and he has to still pay for the mortgage.

People Who Don’t Need a Domestic Violence Restraining Order will Use a TRO to get an Advantage in a Situation

That is where the sword and the shield issue comes in, some people who don’t really need a domestic violence restraining order will use the TRO to get an advantage and they report a situation, to get an advantage in getting someone out of the house. There’s also the misconception that if the other party tells you it’s okay to contact them, you can contact them.  You can’t. In fact, if they report it, you can be convicted of felony contempt of the judge’s order because the important thing to remember is it’s not the victim’s order, it’s the judge who is ordering you.  So, the only one who can tell you it’s okay to talk to that person is the judge who issued the order.

One of the Most Important Frameworks Which Go on in a Domestic Violence Case is “The Cycle of Domestic Violence”

One of the most important frameworks that go on in the domestic violence cases which is called “The Cycle of Domestic Violence”. What that is there is a pattern with abusers that they will; it’s almost like a clock stopping at midnight.  Midnight, everything is peaceful, it slowly builds up to around 6 pm, things get tenser and tenser and at 6 pm, there is like an explosion and right after that, the abuser realizes, because this is all about control, that he’s got to keep that person in his control so they became extra nice and everything’s nice and then, around midnight, it starts over again and there’s a peaceful period and then, it goes back to an explosion and back to being nice.  It’s all about control and that’s why in one of these cases, a skilled attorney knows how to convey because that’s what the judges are looking for.

Trying to Control Your Spouse or Partner is an Indicator of the “Cycle of Domestic Violence”

They are looking for you to convey that what’s been happening to you in the framework of it being part of the paradigm of the cycle of domestic violence. I had a client who, she had gone out with her friend; the boyfriend called the friend and told you to stay away from her.  And what it came down to was he was trying to isolate his girlfriend and control her.  That was the most influential piece of evidence of a case because which showed the judge an issue regarding a cycle of domestic violence.

It is Advisable to Avoid any Contact With the Alleged Victim After a TRO has been Issued

Interviewer: What does one do if someone were to be contacted via text and there was a, sort of, no contact order in place, should that person try to have contact them back by a letter or should they just immediately call their attorney and say “Hey, this is what’s going on”?

James Abate: Yes. They should immediately call their attorney and say “This person contacted me; under no circumstances should I contact the other person?”  In fact, they may want to contact the police and say “This person has a restraining order against me and they’re trying to contact me”. So, absolutely no contact means no contact.

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