Court Advocacy

Role of the Court Advocate

  • Attends court hearings and provides court advocacy for victims of domestic violence.
  • Provides victims assistance in obtaining protective orders and information to prepare victims for their court experience.
  • Provides follow-up and resources to victims about understanding the general legal circumstances in resolving domestic relation problems.
  • Administers Danger Assessment on domestic violence victims, to recognize the increased risks of homicides if they chose to stay in their present relationships.
  • Provides individualized safety plans to domestic violence victims specific to their needs following court contact and after.

What Constitutes Family Abuse

Family abuse is any act of violence, force, or threat, including forceful detention, which results in an offensive touching, physical injury, or places you, a family member, or household member in reasonable apprehension of bodily injury. If you are a victim of family abuse, you may request a protective order against members of your family or household, former spouses, or persons with whom you a child in common.

Protective Orders

A protective order is a document issued by a court to help you protect yourself, your children, and other family or household members from someone who is abusing you. A protective order can help set clear limits with an abuser and send a strong message that abuse is wrong. A protective order is a civil legal remedy for family abuse.

Three Types of Family Abuse Protective Orders

  • Emergency Protective Order (EPO) - This order is usually requested by a law enforcement officer if an arrest has been made, or the officer believes there is a probability of further abuse. This order can be only issued by a Magistrate or a Judge, and lasts only a short time (up to 72 hours or until the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court is held). A victim of abuse can also make an emergency request for this order at the magistrate's office even if an arrest has not occurred.
  • Preliminary Protective Orders (PPO) - This order is issued only by a Judge when danger for further abuse exists but there isn't enough time for a hearing with both parties. A PPO generally only lasts 15 days. A Preliminary Protective Order can be extended if the abuser/respondent can't be served.
  • Permanent Protective Orders (PO) - An order that can be issued up to two years. These orders are issued if there is enough evidence of family abuse and both parties are present and talk about the abuse before the court. Then a Judge decides whether or not to issue an order. This Protective Order offers many options for protection.


In order to be eligible for a protective order, you must attest to having been subjected to or the victim of "family abuse." This means you have experienced being hit, kicked, punched, shoved, bitten, burned, sexually assaulted, held against your will, forcefully restrained, hit with an object, threatened with a gun or other weapon, and any of these things caused an injury to your body; or someone in your family threatened to do any of these things, and you are in fear of them.