Emotions run very high in restraining order hearings. Yet emotions have no place in a courtroom during this type of proceeding. Instead, strategy should dominate. A Judge decides whether or not restraining orders are granted; there is no jury. That’s why it’s critical that the Judge find you more credible than your opponent. Because restraining order hearings usually take place during a divorce, custody battle, neighbor dispute or other heated relationship, it would be easy to lose your cool in court. Nothing could be worse.
Never Get Angry, Emotional, or Defensive. It’ll Kill Your Case Every Time
You can never ever get angry in court. Ever. Nervousness is fine, but acting upset or difficult will hurt you every time. The Judge doesn’t have time to “get to know you,” so you have only minutes to make a positive impression. Don’t cry or carry on emotionally, either. It won’t get you any sympathy from the judge. Your job is to show the judge that you are reasonable and in control. Stay calm. Stay quiet. Answer questions politely, from both your attorney and the other side’s attorney. Outbursts of ANY kind, from you or friends and family in the courtroom, are going to hurt your case. It’s just that simple. I firmly believe that if the Judge were to describe you with one word, what we are aiming for is “gentleman” or “lady.”
How to Answer Questions That Make You Look Bad
The biggest mistake most people make is trying to “win the case” from the witness stand. If you’re asked an uncomfortable question, answer it honestly. If you think your answer will hurt your case, answer honestly anyway. Never try to dodge a question. Never lie. Let me say that again. Never lie. It will only make you look bad and untrustworthy. Your lawyer will get a chance to question you further and that’s when he or she can help you recover from an uncomfortable, but honest answer. In the end, the outcome of restraining order hearings is determined by the facts and the quality of the strategy employed by lawyers. Winning the case is your attorney’s job, not yours.
Why a Lawyer Experienced in Restraining Order Hearings is Important
The ability to avoid or downplay “bad facts” and highlight favorable points is the key to victory. Make sure that your criminal defense attorney has significant experience in conducting restraining order hearings. While these hearings technically take place in family court, it is critical that your lawyer have experience in criminal court, as the issues often involve criminal law, and the outcome of your case could have consequences in criminal court. Mark Zimmerman is a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer with extensive experience handling restraining orders and violent offenses in criminal court. Don’t leave the outcome of your case to chance. Contact Mark Zimmerman for a case evaluation at (941) 364-8503 or fill out our online case evaluation form and we’ll get in touch with you immediately.