Domestic violence is historically a serious problem in New Jersey. As a result, the legislature passed the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991. The law aims to protect victims of domestic violence from potential abusers, allowing them to obtain restraining orders. See N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:25-17 - 25-35 (1991). But restraining orders go beyond simply demanding that a defendant not go to a petitioner's home or call them on the phone. A recent New Jersey case shows how a restraining order can affect things beyond simply contacting or approaching the petitioner.
New Jersey Man Violates Restraining Order
In June of 2022, Hackensack police arrested a man who violated a restraining order in an unusual way. He didn't contact the woman who had a restraining order against him or even approach her. Instead, the man went to her place of employment and showed a co-worker an explicit photo of her. The co-worker alerted the police, and they arrested the man without incident.
Police had arrested the man multiple times over the last 15 years, charging him with assaulting police, harassment, and violating a restraining order. Hackensack police arrested him for violating a restraining order and invasion of privacy.
Consequences of a Restraining Order
The case with racy photos in Hackensack is extreme, but it does illustrate the expansive nature of restraining orders in New Jersey and how the police will treat violations of a court order. A restraining order may order you not to approach or contact the petitioner. But it may also include provisions that:
- Order you to pay spousal or child support
- Remove you from home
- Order you to pay a mortgage, rent, or other existing financial obligations, even if you aren't living in the home
- Prevent you from owning, possessing, or buying firearms
- Order you to pay restitution to the petitioner
- Order you to attend counseling or therapy
- Prevent you from approaching the petitioner's place of work, school, home, or other places they may frequent
- Prevent you from contacting the petitioner as well as their friends and family
If the judge issues a final restraining order against you, the police will place your fingerprints and information in the state-wide domestic violence database, and you will face a $500 fine.
Violating a New Jersey Restraining Order
While a restraining order is typically a civil court order and not a criminal matter, violating the order is illegal. If the police reasonably believe that you've violated a restraining order, they will arrest you, and you could face charges for criminal contempt of a court order and a criminal record. Moreover, if a court convicts you of violating a restraining order a second time, you'll face a mandatory 30 days in jail.
Hire an Experienced New Jersey Restraining Order Defense Attorney
If you're facing a restraining order in New Jersey, it can be a serious matter. The best way to avoid violating a restraining order is to ensure you defend yourself against one in the first place. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the skilled defense team at the Lento Law Firm have been handling restraining order matters in New Jersey for years, and they can help you too. Contact the Lento Law Firm online or give them a call at (888) 535-3686 to set up a consultation.