LEGAL ADVOCACY & PROCESS

What Can Our Legal Advocates Do For You?

Genesis House Legal Advocates work both in the shelter and in Lorain County Municipal Courts to assist victims of domestic violence whose partners have been criminally charged. Advocates explain the criminal justice process and inform the victim of  their rights as a victim of crime. Our advocates can accompany victims to court for hearings about the criminal case, protection orders or even for divorce hearings.

Genesis House Legal Advocates are not attorneys, so they can't represent you in court or speak to you in court. They can, however, provide you with information and support as you go through legal proceedings. See further information on obtaining a Civil Protection Order, what happens when a crime is committed and information on court proceedings below.

Download Legal Advocacy Pamphlet
Ohio Crime Victim Rights

In Ohio, You Have The Right:

  • To be treated with fairness and respect for your safety, dignity and privacy;

  • To reasonable protection from the suspect or anyone acting on his or her behalf;

  • To proceedings free from unreasonable delays;

  • To be heard at public proceedings involving release, plea, sentencing or parole;

  • To a court order of restitution for eligible losses, with proof. 

You May Request:

  • Timely notice of all public proceedings in your case and to attend them;

  • To speak with the prosecutor;

  • To be notified of all the suspects release or escape;

  • To assert these rights yourself, by a representative, or ask the prosecutor or an attorney for help;

  • To appeal a victim rights violation to your district Appeals Court.

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS

General Information About Domestic Violence Protection Orders
How To Obtain A Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order (CPO)
Protection Order Notice To NCIC
Petition For Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order (CPO)
When a defendant is being held in an institution that is at the county level or higher, the victim can register for the VINE program. 
The VINE program is an automated notification system that will tell the victim when the defendant is being transferred or released from whatever facility he’s being held at. The toll free number to register with VINE is:
1-800-770-0192.

LORAIN COUNTY

MUNICIPAL COURT JURISDICTIONS

Lorain

oberlin

Elyria

avon lake

Legal Proceedings

Definitions and And Things To Know:

CIVIL PROTECTION ORDER (CPO):

A Civil Protection Order (CPO) may be requested to obtain relief from an abusive situation whether or not a criminal charge is filed against the abuser. You may file for a CPO for yourself or for your children if a family or household member attempts to cause bodily injury, places you in fear of imminent harm, commits menacing by stalking or aggravated trespass, or commits child abuse.

CPO’s are issued at the Domestic Relations Court in the Justice Center at 225 Court St., Elyria.

You will need to bring with you:

  • Your batterer’s current address.

  • The criminal case number from any criminal charges against your batterer when you have been the victim.

You can expect the following:

  • You will first fill out the forms requesting a CPO (Petition form is located at the top of this page and can be filled out ahead of time).

  • You will then be called in the courtroom to explain to the judge why you feel you need this order of protection.

  • If you are granted a CPO, you will received a certified copy. Keep the certified copy with you at all times. Provide a copy to your workplace, your children’s school or daycare, the police department of any city you reside or work in.

  • There will be a full hearing within 7 to 10 days from when the original order was granted. You are required to be at that hearing. You may also want to bring with you anyone who was a witness to the abuse and any verification you have that could prove domestic violence existed such as: police reports, photographs of injuries, etc.

  • You should also know that your abuser will be asked to attend the review hearing, so be prepared to have to sit in the same room as him, across the table. He may also bring witnesses that will argue against the protection order.

  • You are allowed to hire an attorney to represent you at the full hearing. So is your abuser. The court will not appoint an attorney to represent you.

  • Violation of a CPO can result in a criminal charge. Call the police immediately if your abuser violates the terms of the protection order.

  • The CPO is enforceable by the police and valid in every state.

When telling the judge about the abuse:

  • You need to mention specific instances of abuse and exactly what happened.

  • It would be most helpful for you to create a timeline for yourself of the abuse.

  • Sit down with some paper and write down the first incident of abuse you can remember. Write down everything that happened during that incident—“he shoved me, bit me, threw an ashtray at me…” Then write down the date and time of that incident.

  • If you have trouble remembering the date of the incident, try to think back—was it cold outside? Were you wearing a heavy sweater? If so, it was the winter. Think of how old the children were to help remember the year, think of where you lived to help remember the year, or if you had a certain car or family pet at the time. All those things might help remember the year.

  • Think of what activities were being done on that day to help remember the time. Were you putting the children to bed? If so, it was in the evening. Did you just come home from a graduation party? If so, it was around June.

  • Once you’ve done this, you can make a note of an approximate date of that incident—“around June of 2004, he hit me, choked me, threw an ashtray at my head”.

  • Now, move on to the next incident you can remember, and do the same thing. By the time you go to court, you should have everything organized, and can go from year to year, incident to incident, describing the abuse.

You are allowed to bring these papers into court to help you remember and have your thoughts organized. The judge will even let you read from the papers if you’d like. This can help you so much, because when you are in front of the judge, or in front of your batterer, you might feel nervous or afraid, and you might not be able to clearly organize your thoughts. It’ll go much more smoothly if you have it all organized and written out for yourself. Example below:

June of 2018: he hit me, choked me, threw an ashtray at me after accusing me of flirting with a friend at a graduation party.

August of 2018: He came to my job and was yelling at me so much that my co-worker, Sharon Miller, called the police (ask Sharon to come to court to testify to that, and get a copy of that police report from the police department who responded).

December of 2018: He came home drunk after being at a bar all evening. He shoved my son into a wall, and then threw the Christmas tree on the front lawn. My next door neighbor, Donald Heckson saw him throw the tree outside (ask Donald to come to court with you). He then choked me and left bruises on my arms where he grabbed me. The next day, I went to lunch with my mother and she saw the fingerprint bruises on my arms (ask mom to come to court to testify to the bruises she saw).

ARRAIGNMENT:

An arraignment hearing is an initial court appearance by the defendant. It is held to formally notify the defendant of pending charges, inform him of his/her right to legal representation, determine whether or not to issue a temporary protection order, and set the bond.

Things To Know:

 

  • If the case is a misdemeanor, the defendant enters a plea at the arraignment.

  • If the defendant pleads “guilty” to the charge, he could be either sentenced right then in court, or the judge could order him to undergo a pre-sentence investigation. The defendant would then return for sentencing in about 6 weeks.

  • If the defendant pleads “no contest” to the charge, he will most likely be found guilty right then, and either sentenced in court or ordered to undergo the pre-sentencing investigation, coming back for sentencing in about 6 weeks.

  • If the defendant pleads “not guilty” to the charge, the case will be set for a Pre-Trial Conference.  Pre-Trials are set usually a month or so after the arraignment, depending on the court.

TEMPORARY PROTECTION ORDERS:

A temporary protection order (TPO) is attached to a criminal charge of domestic violence, or several other related charges.  It will contain terms to ensure the safety and protection of the victim (s) during the pendency of the criminal case. Each community is different with regard to the process of obtaining a TPO.
Things To Know:
  • Because each community is different with regard to obtaining a TPO, Genesis House Legal Advocates can help with the process.

  • If you are granted a TPO, you will receive a certified copy. Keep the certified copy with you at all times. Provide a copy to your workplace, your children’s school or daycare, the police department of any city you reside or work in.

  • Violation of a TPO can result in a new criminal charge equal to the domestic violence charge.

  • Call the police immediately if your abuser violates the terms of the protection order.

  • The TPO is valid in every state.

PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE

The Pre-Trial Conference is a meeting for the prosecutors and defense attorneys to discuss the case and see if they can come to an agreement on a resolution to the case. There are often several pre-trials before the case is actually set for trial.
Things To Know:
  • The prosecutor will subpoena the victim to at least the first pre-trial so they can ask the victim any questions they might have regarding the course of events on the day in question,  to ask about medical records, witnesses, etc. and what the victim would like to see happen with the case.

  • Often, the prosecutor doesn’t subpoena the victim to future pre-trials.  Some courts will try not to subpoena the victim for every pre-trial so as not to put an unnecessary burden on the victim. Especially in the case they need to miss work to come to court. 

PRELIMINARY HEARING:

If the case is a felony: Municipal courts don’t have jurisdiction over felonies so at the arraignment of felony crimes, the municipal judges set the bond amount, determine whether to issue a temporary protection order,  and set a date for a preliminary hearing.
Things To Know:
  • ​The preliminary hearing is something municipal courts do when the charge is a felony.

  • The purpose of the preliminary hearing is for the court to determine if there is “probable cause” for the charge.  Once the municipal court determines “probable cause,” they then transfer the felony case to the Grand Jury for their consideration.  If the court determines that there isn’t “probable cause” for the charge, they may dismiss the case entirely.

  • Victims are almost always subpoenaed to the preliminary hearing.  Often, so are often other witnesses, and the officers who responded to the original call.

  • The preliminary hearing is not to determine guilt or innocence. It simply determines if the facts of the case support a felony charge.

  • Other things can happen at the preliminary hearing too. The judge can raise or lower the bond, add or remove a protection order or no contact order, or place other conditions of bond on the case.

GRAND JURY:

If Probable Cause has been established, the case is sent to the Grand Jury for their consideration. If the Grand Jury issues an indictment, or the charges they’ve decided on, the felony case begins again with an arraignment at the Common Pleas Court. When a criminal case goes to trial, the victim will be asked to testify.  It could take 6 months to a year for the case to come to trial.
Things To Know:
  • The victim is usually subpoenaed to the Grand Jury 6-8 weeks after the preliminary hearing.

  • When the victim is subpoenaed, the officer who responded to the call may be there, and any other witnesses.

  • The defendant will NOT be at the Grand Jury when the victim testifies there. The defendant will not even know when the victim is scheduled to go to the Grand Jury.

  • The Grand Jury just wants to hear the sequence of events in order to determine if the facts support the felony charge. They might ask some clarifying questions about what happened, such as: who called the police, or how did you get away.

24/7 Crisis Hotline
(440)-244-1853
or
(440)-323-3400
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Safety Planning

Adult Safety Plan Guide 

Safety Plan Worksheet 

Lorain County Safe Harbor/Genesis House

P.O. Box 718

Lorain, Ohio 44052

Call 24 Hours

(440)-244-1853

(440)-323-3400

or call toll free

1-866-213-1188

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