If someone is the victim of violence or assault in New Jersey, then he or she can seek court-ordered protection through a few different avenues. One common avenue is that of a restraining order. If a judge grants a restraining order petition, then its provisions can offer several types of protection for the petitioner. Another option is that of a civil restraints order. A civil restraints order can offer protection similar to a restraining order but offers a more diplomatic approach where both sides negotiate and agree to the specific terms. In certain situations, a civil restraints order can be preferred for the parties instead of a restraining order. Make sure that you evaluate whether a civil restraints order can resolve your case. If you are facing a restraining order petition, then make sure that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.
What is a Civil Restraints Order?
A civil restraints order is a contract that is negotiated between the petitioner and defendant that can be used to work out a restraining order case. Each party should be represented by counsel in the negotiation of a civil restraints order. If the petitioner and defendant can agree on the terms of an agreement, then they can present that agreement to the court for acceptance and entry. Once a civil restraints order is entered, then it will cancel any pending restraining order cases and will serve as the resolution to the case. Parties will seek a civil restraints order instead of a restraining order for various reasons that are discussed below.
If there is an alleged violation of a civil restraints order, then it is generally handled through the civil division of the court, without police or prosecutor involvement. Alleged violations are considered by the court only after the party alleging the violation files a motion for enforcement with the court. If a judge finds a violation occurred, non-criminal sanctions are usually imposed. This operates differently from a restraining order, where police and prosecutor involvement is expected if there are any alleged violations.
Provisions of a Camden County Civil Restraints Order
A Camden County civil restraints order can contain many of the same protections that are common in restraining orders. Some of these protections include:
- An order stating that there is no contact with the petitioner or someone else
- An order allowing limited contact through specific means of electronic communication
- An order allowing contact for a limited purpose such as dealing with children in common
- An order prohibiting harassment
- An order prohibiting assaultive or abusive conduct
Other reasonable provisions can be included in a civil restraints order negotiated by the parties. Camden County civil restraints orders are treated like contracts because that is precisely what they are. It is the responsibility of the parties to ensure that any civil restraints order that is agreed upon resolves all of their issues sufficiently.
When Can A Civil Restraints Order Be Entered?
Civil restraints orders can only be presented and entered at specific times. If a final restraining order has already been granted by the court, then it is too late to file a civil restraints order for entry. Generally, a civil restraints order can be sought after a temporary restraining order (TRO) has already been granted by the court. TROs are generally easy to obtain if the petitioner follows the correct procedure and makes a believable claim to the court. This is because TRO hearings are held ex parte; this means that not all of the parties involved in the case are present. In this case, the defendant in a TRO hearing is not present and is not even informed of the existence of a TRO until after it has already been issued by the court. Once a TRO is entered, then the defendant is served with the TRO by law enforcement and is given a date for a final restraining order hearing. This hearing typically takes place within ten days. The period before the final restraining order hearing is when a civil restraints order can be agreed upon and submitted to the court by the parties.
Advantages a Civil Restraints Order Has Over a Restraining Order
There are several advantages in negotiating a civil restraints order as opposed to having a court grant a restraining order. The parties retain control over every detail of a civil restraints order while the judge makes all of the pertinent determinations in a restraining order. Some of the advantages for both petitioners and defendants in civil restraining orders are discussed below:
A petitioner is a restraining order action may choose a civil restraints order instead because a civil restraining order:
- Offers the protection of a restraining order but avoids criminal penalties and enforcement
- Allows the petitioner to avoid taking part in a final restraining order hearing
- Allows the petitioner to specifically negotiate exactly what he or she wants in the final order entered with the court
A defendant is a restraining order action may choose a civil restraints order instead because a civil restraining order:
- Gives the defendant a certain outcome
- Allows the defendant to avoid taking part in a final restraining order hearing
- Allows the defendant to avoid several collateral consequences that come with a restraining order
- Allows the defendant to avoid criminal sanction for violations
Both petitioners and defendants can benefit from civil restraints orders.
What Happens When a Court Grants a Civil Restraints Order?
Civil restraints orders must be filed with the court for acceptance and entry. If a court grants a civil restraints order, then the court has determined that the order itself is sufficient and the parties have resolved their pending case. The civil restraints order will be entered with the court to be used in case there are any alleged violations. If someone alleges a violation of a civil restraints order, then he or she must bring this violation to the court's attention with a motion to enforce the order. A hearing will likely not happen otherwise. Restraints order violation hearings are scheduled automatically by the court.
What Happens if Someone Violates a Civil Restraints Order?
Violations of civil restraints orders are usually punished through civil means such as a fine. If the alleged violation can be considered a criminal offense on its own, then the violation can be the starting point for a restraining order or criminal prosecution. It is uncommon for civil restraints violations to result in criminal penalties unless the violation is serious.
Restraining orders give the court wide latitude and authority in punishing violators. Simply alleging a violation will result in the alleged violator's arrest and likely prosecution with criminal contempt charges. A conviction for a criminal contempt charge can result in up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. The enforcement method of a restraining order may not be what the parties are interested in, and that's where a civil restraints order can be advantageous.
Where Can I File a Civil Restraints Order in Camden County?
If you are looking to file a civil restraints order in Camden County, then make sure that you file it where the initial temporary restraining order (TRO) petition was filed. Once a civil restraints order is filed, then the court will cancel any scheduled final restraining order hearings.
The Camden County Superior Court is located at:
101 S 5th Street
Camden, NJ 08103
The Court accepts complaints for restraining orders from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday-Friday.
Make sure that you do not attempt to negotiate your own civil restraints order. Doing so can be considered a TRO violation and lead to arrest and criminal prosecution.
Can I Have a Civil Restraints Order Canceled?
Yes, if both sides in an existing civil restraints order wish to have it canceled. In some situations, the court will cancel a civil restraints order without both parties agreeing to its termination. When a civil restraints order is negotiated and agreed upon, then both parties maintain substantial authority in how the civil restraints order is enforced. When a restraining order is in place, much of the authority in enforcement lies with the judge. 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 Camden County, then it is important that you ask an experienced criminal defense attorney. To get a civil restraints order entered, it is essential to know what the Camden County Superior Court is looking for. 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.