WomensLaw serves and supports all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Preparing for Court

Starting the Court Case

Updated: November 12, 2019

Should I gather evidence before filing my court case?

If it is safe to do so, you could gather evidence and decide which witnesses could help you prove your case even before you file. However, if you need to file immediately, you can begin to gather evidence right after you file.

Once you begin to gather evidence, you should keep track of any witnesses by writing down their names, contact information, and what they know about your case. Make sure to photograph any injuries you suffered or any damage to your property. If you still have the damaged property, keep it. If it’s small enough to be brought into court, you might be able to enter it as evidence instead of the photograph of it. Remember, as the plaintiff or petitioner, you are the one who will have the legal burden to prove that what you are alleging in your petition/complaint actually happened, so the more evidence you have, the better.

While the abuse, stalking, or harassment is happening, one thing that you can do to better prepare your case is to keep a log or a record of the details of each incident as the incidents occur. You can make a list of the date and time of each incident, what the abuser did or said, what actions, if any, you took, what witnesses or evidence you have, etc. This way, if you have to prove the pattern of events in court, you will have an organized list with all of the information that you could refer to. You can also save any related voicemails, emails, or text messages that are sent as further proof of the abuse. Take screenshots of any posts made on social media to preserve them in case the person who posts them later deletes them. We have more information about documenting digital evidence in How should I document the abuse?

You can download a blank stalking log and cyberstalking log on our website, although you can also include other forms of abuse in those logs as well.