Hearings for Plenary Orders of Protection: What to Expect and How to Prepare

After an Emergency Order of Protection is granted, the court will schedule a hearing for a Plenary Order of Protection within 21 days of the date the Emergency Order was granted.


The hearing for the Plenary Order differs substantially than the initial hearing for the Emergency Order in several respects.  Most significantly, the alleged abuser, or the respondent in the matter, has notice of the plenary hearing and is ordered to appear at the hearing, whereas the respondent does not receive any notice of the emergency hearing.  At the plenary hearing, the respondent has the opportunity to testify and tell the court his or her side of the story.  The respondent may present evidence or the testimony of other witnesses.  Further, the respondent can cross-examine the petitioner regarding his or her testimony of the alleged abuse.  The petitioner at the plenary hearing has the burden to prove his or her case and if the petitioner does not meet this burden of proof, then the judge can deny the Plenary Order of Protection.

To prepare for the plenary hearing, the petitioner should review the allegations provided in the Petition for Emergency Order of Protection in preparing his or her testimony.  If the petitioner is represented by counsel, the petitioner should meet with the attorney prior to the plenary hearing to go over the types of questions that will be asked of the petitioner at the hearing.  The petitioner should be ready to present evidence or witnesses at the plenary hearing, if any exist.  The more prepared the petitioner is, the stronger the evidence will be at the plenary hearing.

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