Are Online Actions Enough for a NJ Restraining Order?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Oct 03, 2022 | 0 Comments

In New Jersey, comments made online, whether in a public forum or via private message, can be the basis for a restraining order. But first, the people involved must be in a qualifying relationship.

Even a temporary restraining order taken out against you can have negative repercussions on your life. Your job, child custody agreements, and even your home: All can be affected by a restraining order.

Qualifying Relationships

New Jersey limits restraining orders to victims of domestic violence who are over 18 years of age or an emancipated minor. The two parties must have also been in a qualifying relationship, such as current or former spouses.

Other relationships that qualify include current or former romantic partners, parents (including individuals expecting a child together), or present or past household members.

What's Considered Online Harassment?

New Jersey's definition of harassment includes both private messages and posts on social media. Name-calling or defamation – that is, posting false information – are not considered domestic violence and would not be grounds for a restraining order.

What does qualify as online harassment are threats to inflict harm or commit a crime on or against another person or property. Knowingly sending or posting "lewd, indecent, or obscene material to or about a person" that either harms someone or would make a reasonable person fear harm also qualifies.

Physical injury is not a requirement to filing a restraining order. Emotional harm is sufficient to meet New Jersey's domestic violence laws. Previous incidents of physical injury, however, may be considered when determining if comments posted online or sent to an individual would give weight to threats.

Let's take two examples of online posts. In one, an unmarried couple, Pat and Sandy, who live together, get into a fight. Pat leaves their shared residence. Sandy gets on social media and posts, in colorful language, about how stupid Pat is. Sandy tags all of Pat's coworkers.

The above situation is unlikely to result in a restraining order because no threats were made.

In the second example, Sandy instead texts Pat a threat that, if Pat returns to their home, Sandy will beat up Pat. A court is more likely to issue a restraining order in this case. A restraining order is even more likely if Sandy has previously hit Pat.

Qualified Legal Expertise

Although a restraining order is a civil action in New Jersey, violating one can result in criminal charges. In other words, using or continuing to use social media to contact someone who has taken out a restraining order against you could result in a criminal case against you.

If you have or think you may have a restraining order filed against you, you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or online.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.