During the Arraignment
It is important to provide information to the Assistant District Attorney before the arraignment and bail hearing regarding the history of the abuse and a description of the most recent abuse, including any pictures or hospital records of injuries. You should also mention the location of any guns or other weapons that you believe the abuser has in his or her possession.
The Assistant District Attorney will bring this information to the attention of the judge, along with your safety concerns and fears at this time. The judge may also consider whether the defendant/ abuser should be jailed until trial; or, if the defendant/ abuser is to be released, what the bail and conditions of bail will be.
The Assistant District Attorney represents the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in prosecuting the case, and works with the Victim/Witness Advocate to address your interests and assist you during trial.
- Develop a safety plan that includes an escape plan for you and your children should a violent incident occur. During an incident, try to move away from an area or room where access to weapons might increase your risk, such as the kitchen, or where you can be trapped or easily injured.
- Call the police or leave the house as soon as possible after an abusive incident. The police will respond and stay with you until you are safe or in a safe place. The police will also help you seek medical treatment, if needed. If you feel you may be in danger, dial the police number and hang up before it rings, so that the redial button will automatically call the police if you need them quickly.
- Be alert when leaving the courthouse. If you have any reason to believe your abuser may be waiting for you, please ask someone in the District Attorney's Office or Court Advocate to help. A police officer or a court officer may be able to escort you to your car.
- Guns or weapons will be ordered turned over to the police by the judge, along with any license to carry the guns and firearms identification card. Inform the police of any guns/weapons the abuser may keep in the house.
- Consider changing the locks on your home. The judge can order the abuser to turn over the keys to your home and/or your car. Keep an extra set of keys in a safe place.
- Inform your neighbors if a 209A order is in place. Encourage them to call the police if they see or suspect that something is wrong.
- Make copies of important papers and keep them in a safe place. Make a list of the things you need to take with you:
- Birth/Medical Records
- Check/ Bank Books
- Credit Cards
- Marriage License
- Keep emergency money and extra clothes for yourself and your children in a safe place or with someone you trust. Include a few toys and favorite things for the children.
- Keep the victim's service agency number handy for emergency shelter and for support groups.; You do not have to leave the abuser or have a 209A Order to attend the support groups. Information and support in making decisions are important.
- Get medical attention as you may be injured much more seriously than you realize. Go to a hospital emergency room or your private doctor as soon as possible for treatment. Ask for a copy of the treatment record.
- Have pictures taken of your injuries and bruises at the hospital, police department, shelter or District Attorney's Office.