Those who are victims of violence or assault can petition for court-ordered protection in a few different ways in New Jersey. Outside of seeking criminal charges, a victim of violence can seek civil actions such as a restraining order or a civil restraints order. There are various reasons why different forms of court protection are chosen. In some circumstances, a civil restraints order is more appropriate for the parties than a restraining order is.
A civil restraints order may be preferred due to its ability to offer court protection on an agreement the parties make with each other without the court's intervention. It is important to determine whether a civil restraints order is a potential resolution to your case. If you are facing a restraining order petition, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
What is a Civil Restraints Order?
A civil restraints order is an agreement that parties involved in a restraining order case can make to resolve their issues. The parties in putting together a civil restraints order will actually sit down and negotiate with each other (through legal counsel). If an agreement is reached, then the provisions of the agreement are included in a civil restraints order that is presented to the judge for approval and entry. This is different from the restraining order process as in restraining orders, the judge makes determinations of fact and also determines what conditions should be included in a restraining order. If a civil restraints order is agreed upon, then no final restraining order hearing occurs, and it is canceled.
Civil restraints order violations are treated differently by the court than restraining order violations are. Violations of civil restraints orders will likely only result in a civil action and a fine or other sanction. Restraining order violations are met with police enforcement which includes arrest and criminal prosecution. If the parties involved want to avoid police involvement in their case, then it may benefit them to work out a civil restraints order instead of letting the court determine the parameters of a restraining order.
Provisions of a Burlington County Civil Restraints Order
If a petitioner seeks a civil restraints order in Burlington County, then he or she can expect that many of the same rules and regulations found in restraining orders can be included. Common provisions include:
- ‘No contact' orders
- ‘Limited contact' orders through specific means of communication
- ‘Limited purpose' contact orders when there are children in common
- No harassment
- No assaultive or abusive conduct
A civil restraints order can also include any other reasonable provisions that the petitioner and defendant agree to. Civil restraints orders are treated like contracts because both sides agree on the terms and promise to abide by them. Make sure your civil restraints order is clearly written to describe what is expected from each party.
When Can A Civil Restraints Order Be Entered?
If you are considering a civil restraints order, then it is important to understand when one can be accepted and entered by the court. In most cases, a civil restraints order can be accepted by the court after the court has already issued a temporary restraining order (TRO). The first step in the restraining order process is when the petitioner files for a TRO. Once the petitioner files for a TRO, then he or she will be brought in for a hearing with the judge to determine if a TRO should be issued. The defendant in the TRO is not even notified of this hearing and does not participate. If the TRO is granted, then the defendant is served with it and given a hearing date in 10 days to determine if the TRO should be made permanent. In the time period before this hearing, the parties can negotiate and submit a civil restraints order to the court for acceptance and entry. A civil restraints order will not be accepted if a final restraining order hearing has already taken place.
Advantages a Civil Restraints Order Has Over a Restraining Order
A civil restraints order can have several advantages over a restraining order for both the petitioner and defendant. The biggest advantage that a civil restraints order has over a restraining order is control. Both parties in a civil restraints order have control over the specific terms of the order and can determine whether or not to request sanctions if the order is violated. When a restraining order is in place, then any violations result in automatic arrest and likely criminal prosecution. If that is not the approach that you are interested in, then a civil restraints order can be beneficial.
Some of the reasons why a petitioner might choose a civil restraints order over a restraining order include:
- Similar court protection, but with less police involvement
- Cancels the final restraining order hearing
- The ability to choose specific terms during negotiation
Some of the reasons why a defendant might choose a civil restraints order over a restraining order include:
- The ability to ensure a guaranteed outcome
- Cancels the final restraining order hearing
- Avoiding collateral consequences of a restraining order, such as the loss or suspension of a professional license
- Avoiding police involvement if there is an alleged violation
These are just some of the many reasons why both petitioners and defendants find that a civil restraints order suits their needs better than a restraining order.
What Happens When a Court Grants a Civil Restraints Order?
If you file a civil restraints order with the court, then you want the judge to accept and grant the order. This means that all of the agreed-upon terms will be entered by the court, and an enforceable contract is in place. If there are any alleged violations, then the court will use the entered order to determine what the responsibilities of the parties are. If there are any alleged violations, then a hearing does not automatically take place. A hearing will only happen after a motion to enforce the order has been filed with the court.
What Happens if Someone Violates a Civil Restraints Order?
If someone violates a civil restraints order, then the violation is generally considered civil in nature and will result in sanctions such as a fine. If the alleged violation of the civil restraints order is criminal in nature, then it can be the basis for a restraining order or a criminal charge. Jail sentences are uncommon for basic violations of a civil restraints order.
Restraining orders are enforced with a much heavier hand. If a restraining order is in place and someone is alleged to violate it, then he or she can be charged with criminal contempt. If the alleged violator is convicted of the violation, then he or she can face up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. For some people, this is not the type of approach they want.
Where Can I File a Civil Restraints Order in Burlington County?
If you are looking to file a civil restraints order in Burlington County, then you should file it at the same court where the initial temporary restraining order (TRO) petition was filed. If a civil restraints order is filed with the court, then any scheduled final restraining order hearings will be canceled.
The Burlington County Superior Court is located at:
49 Rancocas Road
Mount Holly, NJ 08060
The Court accepts complaints for restraining orders from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday-Friday.
Make sure you have the appropriate legal representation when negotiating a civil restraints order. If a defendant tries to negotiate his or her own civil restraints order, then it can be considered a TRO violation and lead to arrest.
Can I Have a Civil Restraints Order Canceled?
Yes, if both the petitioner and defendant agree to cancel the order and the judge accepts their decision. There are limited circumstances where the court can cancel a civil restraints order without the permission of the petitioner. When you agree to a civil restraints order, then you and the other party involved maintain more authority over its terms when compared to a restraining order. If you have legal questions, then call us at The Lento Law Firm!
Contact the Lento Law Firm Today
If you have questions about civil restraints orders in Burlington County, then it is important that you ask an experienced attorney. It is essential to know what the Burlington County Superior Court is seeking when determining whether to grant a civil restraints order. The attorneys at the Lento Law Firm have the experience and skills that are necessary to help put you in the best position for success. To learn why attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are the right choice, call us at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.