- Fill Out Forms
You will fill out two forms to start the case. The Complaint for Order Against Stalking or Sexual Assault is your request for an order from the court to protect you. The second is the Affidavit in Support of Request for Order Against Stalking or Sexual Assault – the document where you describe what has happened.
If you are worried about revealing your address, you can also fill out a Confidential Address Form for Stalking or Sexual Assault. On that form you can check “No” to not allow the release of your address to anyone outside the court. Find these forms here on the Vermont Judiciary website.
You can bring someone to help you, or you can call a domestic violence agency to help. There is no fee to file for a protective order.
For more information on keeping your home address confidential, explore the Secretary of State’s Safe at Home program.
- Emergency Order
While you wait, the judge will decide whether to give you an emergency order called a “Temporary Order.” The judge will read your paperwork and decide whether you need emergency protection. This is temporary. A Temporary Order only lasts until a final hearing is held.
- If an Emergency Order is Denied
If the judge denies your request for a Temporary Order, you can decide whether you want a hearing. At the hearing you will get another chance to prove that you need an order to protect you or your family. You will need more evidence than what was included in your affidavit.
- If you ask for a hearing, the “defendant” – the person who is stalking or abusing you – will get copies of your paperwork. You will not have any protection before the hearing.
- If you don’t ask for a hearing, the case will be closed. The defendant will not be notified that you applied for an order. Your paperwork will be kept confidential.
You can talk to your local domestic violence organization for help in making this decision. The domestic violence group can help you make a safety plan. They may also be able to help you in other ways.
- Order Will Be Served
If the judge approves an emergency order, the court will arrange for it to be served on the defendant. A police officer will give the defendant a copy of the Temporary Order and your Complaint and Affidavit (the document where you describe what has happened).
- Final Hearing
A hearing will be scheduled. It should be scheduled within 10 days of your temporary order. At the hearing, you will need to show the judge why you need a final Order Against Stalking or Sexual Assault. The defendant may be in the courtroom with you. The defendant may have an attorney and may testify against you and present witnesses in support of his or her side of the story.
A final order usually lasts one year. You can ask for a different length if you want.
For more information on Final Hearings, see the section below.