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The Evidence Required to Prosecute Domestic Violence Cases


Interviewer: What sort of evidence is needed to prosecute the domestic violence case?

James Abate: Not very much.to get the temporary restraining order, you simply have to go down to the police station or to see the Domestic Violence Team at the Family Court, tell them what happened.  If it’s at the Municipal Court, they will call the judge and he will issue a telephonic restraining order.  If you go to the Family Court, they’ll help you write up an application and then, you’ll go before the judge and if you tell him the right words or tell either judge the right words, they’re going to grant the restraining order.  It’s not about determining whether everything you’ve said is true or whether everything you said is serious enough to require a restraining order, and that’s left for the court date.

A Temporary Restraining Order is Almost Always Issued When Domestic Violence is alleged

So, the temporary restraining order is almost always issued, if there is a domestic relationship, a predicate act has been alleged, and really if those two things were there, they don’t look at the seriousness of it at the outset. Quite honestly, whenever police show up at a home,  if there’s just been an argument, they’re going to tell both parties, “you know, you can get a TRO” and they’re trying to get them to file these things because they don’t want to deal with this, they want the courts to deal with it. They don’t want to make the wrong call; they want someone else to make the call

The Courts are Flexible As to What Sort of Evidence they May Accept in a Domestic Violence Trial

Getting the case in, the very little evidence is required.  When you get to court, there is a lot of formality involved, but the courts are flexible as to what types of evidence they’re going to accept.  Many times, I will have a computer expert, take somebody’s iPhone and they’ll pull every text message that’s ever been sent between those two people there, and we have really a wonderful, basically a book on everything that’s going on between these two people.  Sometimes, it’s photos that have been sent, emails, voice messages and that’s — and getting the evidence into a manner that is presentable to the court is very important.

It is the Best Course to Retain a Lawyer in a Domestic Violence Case

I’ve seen people who should be getting a restraining order, who don’t get it because they have the facts to support their case but they don’t know how to get it prosecuted, and I’ve seen people who should have a restraining order issued against them but don’t because certain evidence is kept out of the case because of the formalities in the court.  So, I think it’s very important, considering everything at stake, to retain a lawyer.

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