This Web site contains only general information and readers shoud not take any
actions without first consulting a qualified attorney about their specific situation.
I've been abused. What should I do?
The first thing to do is to call the police. The police will usually arrest the perpetrator, and will issue a twenty-four hour stay-away order. This order is intended to give the victim time to obtain a restraining order from the court. The next step is to contact the Adult Services Branch of the Family Court (538-5959) to schedule an appointment to apply for a Domestic Abuse Restraining Order. This order prevents the abuser from having contact with the victim, and from coming near the victim's place of residence or employment. It also provides for temporary custody of children. If there is a reasonable possibility that the abuser may ignore the order, consider moving temporarily to a safe place, or shelter (call 841-0822 for information on domestic violence shelters). Remember that once a restraining order is issued, you are not permitted to have any contact with the abuser. Obviously, this can make it very difficult to negotiate a divorce agreement or have an uncontested divorce.
I've been served with a restraining order. What now?
The most important thing is to read it carefully and not violate it. DO NOT CONTACT THE PETITIONER. Any violation of the restraining order can subject you to immediate arrest and a criminal prosecution---even if the restraining order itself is later dissolved. Generally, these orders provide for a one-time visit to the residence, with police escort, to pick up clothing and personal effects. Other than that, stay away and seek the assistance of an attorney. A hearing will be held in about ten days. At that time, the court will decide whether to dissolve or continue the restraining order.
I've been charged with abuse of a family member. What now?
Remain calm, and do not argue with or resist the police. You should cooperate by providing basic information such as your address, phone, age, etc. However, do not make any statements to the police about the incident or try to "talk them out of" making the arrest. If you are injured, tell the police and ask for medical assistance and that photos of your injuries be taken. Post bail (typically, $1,000 in cash), and then retain an attorney immediately. If you are arraigned before you can post bail, enter a plea of "not guilty" and request a jury trial.
I've been reported to Child Protective Services. What now?
Remain calm. Understand that CPS is legally authorized to question your child outside of your presence and without your permission, and also to have the child examined by a medical professional. CPS is also authorized to place your child in temporary foster custody. Generally speaking, it is a bad idea to submit to an interview by CPS and an even worse idea to sign a voluntary services agreement without first consulting with an attorney. Although it can be expensive, hiring an attorney at the very outset may save you much heartache and even more in attorney's fees down the road.