An experienced elder law attorney can help you complete the required application for a restraining order, report the abuse to law enforcement, and make sure that your rights are protected. An elder law attorney can also assist you by filing a complaint for elder abuse to recover property taken from you or to request damages related to the abuse. If your request for a restraining order is contested (meaning the abuser asks for a hearing), an elder law attorney will present your case to the judge by questioning witnesses, presenting other evidence such as photographs or documents, and making legal arguments on your behalf.
Obtain and Complete an Elder Abuse Restraining Order Packet
The Elder Abuse Restraining Order packet is available from the court clerk at your local courthouse. The packet describes the requirements for obtaining a restraining order. Make sure you qualify for a restraining order by reading the eligibility requirements. The packet also includes the forms you must complete to request a hearing. If you do not have an attorney to help you complete the packet, you may be able to obtain help by contacting your District Attorney Victim Assistance Office. The DA Victim Advocate may help you complete the forms and file them with the court clerk. If you are completing the forms on your own, be sure to read the instructions carefully, and complete the forms as instructed. If you make a mistake, you may not be able to obtain the restraining order. Once you have reviewed and completed the forms, you must file them with the court clerk. There is no fee to file the petition. The clerk will then set a hearing date for you to appear before the judge.
Attend the Scheduled Court Hearing
When you file a petition for a restraining order, the court is required to hear your request on the day the papers are filed or on the next day the court is open for business. If the judge decides that you are eligible for a restraining order, the court will issue the order. The order must be served on the person who abused you. Service is usually accomplished by the court clerk delivering a copy of the restraining order to the Sheriff and requesting that the order be served. Check with the court clerk if you are unsure of the procedure in your area. The order will be in effect for one year.
Attend the Contested Hearing
After the abuser has been served with a copy of the restraining order, he or she may request a hearing. The abuser may present evidence at the hearing, and may even hire a lawyer to present their side of the story. You should strongly consider hiring an elder law attorney at this stage if you have not done so already. Not all abusers request a hearing; however, if such a hearing is requested in your case, you must appear and present your case as well, or the judge may change or cancel the restraining order based on the evidence presented at this second hearing.
Contact Law Enforcement if the Restraining Order is Violated
If the abuser violates any provision of the restraining order, you should contact law enforcement immediately and report the behavior. Violation of a restraining order can result in the abuser being arrested, charged with contempt of court, and punished by jail time and a fine.