Court Advocacy

Court can be a confusing and frustrating experience for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center has an office on the third floor of the Kent County Court House to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault with filing for Temporary Restraining Orders in the District or Family Court. The Court where you file will vary based on where you reside and your relationship to the person you are filing against. To make sure you should be filing in Kent County, please call the Court Office at (401) 822-6680. The Court Office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30-12:30, the office is closed for lunch from 12:30-1:30, and then reopens from 1:30-4:30. If you are coming in to file for a Protective Order you should make every effort to arrive by 3:00 so that you will have adequate time to fill out all of the paper work before Judges are off the bench. Please bring a photo ID.

 

The court advocates in this office also assist victims of domestic violence criminal cases in the Kent County District Court by:

  • explaining your rights as a victim of crime
  • explaining the court process and what you may expect
  • assisting you in letting the prosecutor know what you would like to see happen

If someone is arrested by the Airport, Coventry, Cranston, DEM, East Greenwich, Foster, Glocester, Johnston, Lincoln, North Kingstown, North Providence, North Smithfield, Scituate, Smithfield, Warwick, West Greenwich or West Warwick police departments then the case will be arraigned in Kent County District Court.   If you are the victim of a domestic violence case that is being heard in Kent County District Court and would like more information about the case or your options, please call the court advocate’s office (401)822-6680.

Commonly asked questions:

Why was there an arrest?
In Rhode Island, there is a mandatory arrest law for crimes that fall under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act. If the police have evidence that a crime has occurred and the parties have a relationship, they are required to arrest the primary aggressor.

Will I need to go to court?
Going to court to speak with an advocate and prosecution is important because your input on the case is valuable; however, you are not required to go to court unless you are subpoenaed or specifically told to come in for court. If you have questions about when to come in to court, or if you are needed, call the court advocates’ office at (401) 822-6680.

Can I drop the charges?
No, the state is pressing the charges, not you. It will be up to the prosecutor or solicitor to go forward with the case.

Can I remove the No Contact Order?
It is up to the judge whether or not he or she feels comfortable vacating the No Contact Order. If you would like to vacate the No Contact Order or modify the No Contact Order for certain types of contact, call the court advocates’ office to arrange a time to address the judge. Please keep in mind that the judge will need certain information in order to feel comfortable making a decision, so it may take some time. Also know that when you do address the judge, he or she will have some questions for you and may deny your request. Also remember to bring a photo ID.

What do I do if the defendant violates the No Contact Order?
If the defendant has any type of contact with you while the No Contact Order is in place, report the violation to the police department where the contact happened. For example, if you live in Warwick and you received text messages from the defendant while you were home, contact Warwick PD. Remember contact includes texts, e-mails, phone calls, social media, written letters and asking a third party to relay information to you. Violating a No Contact Order is a criminal offense.

Some Tips for going to Court:

  • You will most likely need a photo ID.
  • You may be sitting in court for a long period of time; if you have children it is best to try and find child care.
  • It is important to dress appropriately for court; never wear shorts, tank tops, anything that exposes your midriff, sunglasses or hats.
  • Remember to turn off or completely silence your phone before entering a court room.
  • No food or drink will be allowed in the court house.

For more information about protective orders click here.