Step 4: The full court hearing
At the hearing, you will have the chance to testify in court and present evidence and witnesses to prove that the abuser committed an act of domestic violence against you. The abuser will also be allowed to be present evidence and testify in the hearing to defend himself/herself. You may want to get a lawyer to represent you at that hearing, especially if you think the abuser will have one. Go to our NJ Finding a Lawyer page for a listing of free and paid lawyers. The judge will decide whether or not to give you a final restraining order.1 See the Preparing Your Case page for ways you can show the judge you were abused.
It is very important that you attend the court hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary restraining order will expire and you will have to start the process over.2 If you find out you absolutely cannot attend, contact the clerk or court immediately and ask how you can get a “continuance” for a later court date. If you are granted a “continuance,” be sure to ask to have your TRO extended until the new hearing date.
If the abuser does not attend the hearing, the court may issue a “default judgment” against him/her and you may receive a final restraining order in his/her absence. The judge also may decide to pick a new hearing date to give the abuser another chance to come to court. If this happens, be sure to ask the judge to extend your TRO if you have one.
1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-29(a)
2 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-28(i)