I Was Served With a Temporary RFA Order in Vermont – Now What?
If you have been served with a Vermont Relief from Abuse Order, or with a notice of hearing, you are the Defendant. You should immediately contact an attorney at Burke Law to review the temporary RFA and ensure that you are following all the conditions. A violation of even a temporary RFA can result in criminal charges so it is very important that you follow the conditions.
You should be provided with a hearing date along with the temporary RFA. This hearing will determine if the temporary RFA becomes a final order and what the conditions and length of the RFA will be. Before the hearing date, you have the right to ask the judge to change the restrictions of the temporary order. You need to make this request in writing by filing a Motion to Modify Temporary Relief From Abuse Order.
Temporary Relief From Abuse Order: The Hearing
- Be at court no later than the time on your notice. If your hearing is remote (currently all RFA hearings are), join into the remote hearing by phone or video 10 minutes early to ensure there are no issues. Be sure to check out our tips for remote RFA Hearings.
- This is your opportunity to present information via your testimony, any witnesses testimony, and any document evidence.
- Document evidence should be submitted ahead of time. Call the court to find out how to do this if your hearing is virtual.
- If remote hearing, ensure you provide any of your witnesses with the phone number, access code, password and Webex information if appearing by phone or video.
- The Plaintiff (aka. The person who requested the RFA) will give evidence first. You or your attorney will have the opportunity to cross examine the plaintiff and any of their witnesses after they testify. Do not interrupt them while they are speaking.
What must the Plaintiff prove in order to have the Relief From Abuse granted?
In order for a judge to grant the Plaintiff’s request for an RFA, the judge must find that the Defendant (you):
- Are a family or household member AND
- That you have abused the plaintiff and/or the Plaintiff’s children AND either:
- There is a danger of further abuse; OR
- The Defendant is currently incarcerated and has been convicted of one of the following:
- Attempted murder
- Domestic assault
- Aggravated domestic assault
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Aggravated stalking
- Lewd or lascivious conduct with a child
- Use of a child in a sexual performance, or consenting to a sexual performance.
RFA’s are governed by 15 V.S.A. § 1103
"Family" or "household member" means that the Plantiff is:
- A family member
- A current or former sexual parter
- Someone you date or used to date
- Someone who lives with you or used to live with you
Abuse means that the Defendant:
- Attempted to cause physical harm
- Caused physical harm
- Placed the Plaintiff in fear of imminent serious physical harm
- Abuse to children 33 V.S.A. § 4912
- Stalking 12 V.S.A. § 5131(6)
- Sexual assault 12 V.S.A. § 5131(5)
The Vermont Judiciary has made a video to assist you in understanding your Vermont Relief From Abuse Hearing. While not required, you may want to hire an attorney to assist you with your RFA hearing as there can be serious consequences if a final RFA order is granted, which include:
- Your ability to hold certain jobs
- Your ability to own firearms and ammunition
- Your ability to keep your immigration status
Call or email Burke Law to assist you at the final RFA hearing.