Can I Get an Emergency Restraining Order?

Obtaining a restraining order (RO) in New Jersey may be necessary in various circumstances. For example, someone may need a restraining order if they're the victim of domestic violence.

Getting a restraining order in New Jersey is a process involving multiple steps and phases. Because a restraining order can significantly limit someone's freedom, a judge can't permanently issue a restraining order against a defendant until they've had the chance to present their case.

In the meantime, it's possible to get a temporary protective order that essentially serves as an emergency restraining order in New Jersey. If someone has requested such a restraining order against you, you need a proper defense.

The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team is available to offer it. We can also answer any questions you may have about emergency and long-term restraining orders in New Jersey. Get started today by contacting us online or calling us at 888-535-3686 to talk about your case.

Can Someone Get an Emergency Restraining Order in New Jersey?

The term for an emergency restraining order in New Jersey is a temporary restraining order (TRO). Someone may need a TRO in a domestic violence situation.

Someone can request a domestic violence restraining order in New Jersey in the following circumstances:

  • They are or were married to the alleged abuser
  • They are living with or currently dating the alleged abuser
  • They have a child with the alleged abuser

There are multiple types of restraining orders in New Jersey, such as sexual assault restraining orders and stalking-related protective orders. Whether someone may request a TRO in the Garden State sometimes depends on the type of restraining order they're seeking.

What Is the Process for Getting an Emergency Restraining Order in NJ?

Requesting a TRO involves the following steps:

  • Going to the courthouse: Someone requesting a TRO should visit the Superior Court of the county in which they currently reside. The Family Division Office will handle TRO requests. Someone at the courthouse can usually help the applicant complete the paperwork to request a TRO. If going to a courthouse isn't an option for any reason, often, an applicant can complete the process at a local police department. Completing the paperwork at a police department may be necessary if the courthouse is closed. If an applicant believes they or someone else is in immediate danger, they should call 911.
  • Participating in a hearing: The police or courthouse workers can help an applicant set up a hearing in front of a judge. The alleged abuser doesn't participate in this hearing. The judge will listen to the applicant's argument and decide whether to issue a TRO. Usually, they will agree to do so.
  • Setting up the next hearing: If a judge issues a TRO, the applicant will receive a copy. The court will also provide a copy to the police, who are responsible for providing it to the alleged abuser. The court will set up a hearing (usually 10 days from the initial TRO hearing) during which both parties can present their arguments.

After the hearing, the judge may decide to dismiss the TRO or grant a final restraining order (FRO). Or, they may decide to extend a TRO if one party (usually the applicant) needs additional time to attend or prepare for an FRO hearing.

What Does an Emergency Restraining Order or TRO Do in New Jersey?

A TRO takes effect as soon as a judge issues it. Most TROs prohibit alleged accusers from contacting, harassing, or being in the vicinity of their alleged victims. A TRO might also include additional terms, provisions, and prohibitions, like granting an applicant temporary custody of the children.

What Does a FRO Do in New Jersey?

A judge may consider the specific factors of a given case when deciding what types of protections a restraining order should offer. If a judge decides to grant an FRO, they may add protections and restrictions that the original TRO didn't include.

Examples of additional requirements, restrictions, and protections a FRO might include are:

  • Establishing long-term custody arrangements
  • Requiring the alleged abuser to provide financial support to the alleged victim
  • Prohibiting the alleged abuser from visiting the plaintiff's home or place of work
  • Prohibiting the alleged abuser from owning dangerous weapons like firearms (which the police may confiscate if they already own any)

If someone believes an individual who owns firearms is an immediate threat to others or themselves, they can request an extreme risk protective order (ERPO).

The process of requesting an ERPO is similar to that of requesting a TRO. If a court grants an ERPO, the allegedly dangerous individual must surrender all firearms along with their license to purchase or carry firearms.

How Long Does a FRO Last in New Jersey?

A FRO has no expiration date. It remains in effect permanently unless a judge dismisses it.

The applicant who originally requested the restraining order is virtually always the only one who can successfully petition a judge to dismiss an FRO. Doing so involves signing a “Certificate to Dissolve a Restraining Order.”

Once someone signs this document, the following occurs:

  • The FRO will no longer offer any of the protections it previously offered. However, the defendant may still face criminal charges.
  • The applicant won't be able to renew a FRO's protection unless they experience another instance of domestic violence. They will need to request a new restraining order if they experience another instance of domestic violence.

Defendants in these circumstances must be aware that a FRO remains in effect until its dismissal. That means they can't violate a FRO's requirements even if they develop a positive relationship with the plaintiff.

For example, maybe the defendant and plaintiff reconcile. Perhaps they plan to meet and see one another. Even if they're getting along well now, the plaintiff will still need to get the FRO dismissed before the defendant can legally see them.

Preparing for a FRO Hearing in New Jersey: Essential Information for a Plaintiff

After a judge grants someone's request for a TRO, they usually have about 10 days to prepare for the FRO hearing. They may use this time to:

  • Hire a lawyer: There is no requirement that either party have legal representation during a FRO hearing. However, the law allows both parties to seek representation. A plaintiff may consider doing so to improve their chances of presenting a strong case.
  • Develop testimony: A plaintiff may contact witnesses who can attest to the nature of the domestic violence they may have experienced. That said, in domestic violence cases, it's not uncommon for there to be no witnesses. Thus, a plaintiff may need to focus on developing their own personal testimony.

A plaintiff can also gather other forms of evidence that may support their case. Examples include text messages, voicemail messages, emails, and financial records. If they've had to receive medical treatment for injuries resulting from domestic violence, medical records may also serve as valuable evidence.

Preparing for a FRO Hearing: Essential Information for a Defendant

It's also important that alleged abusers know what steps they should take in the days leading up to a FRO hearing. A defendant can prepare for a FRO hearing by:

  • Understanding the conditions of the TRO: A defendant must thoroughly familiarize themselves with the TRO's conditions. Abiding by these conditions is vital. They should also be aware that they may need to take additional steps to ensure full compliance, such as turning over their firearms to law enforcement. A defendant may also need to find temporary housing if a TRO prohibits them from being near the plaintiff.
  • Gathering evidence: A defendant should clear their schedule for the day of their FRO hearing. They should also prepare to arrive at the hearing early and in professional attire. In the meantime, they may gather evidence that can help them show why the judge should dismiss the TRO. For example, a defendant may be able to get statements from witnesses that conflict with a plaintiff's allegations.

A defendant will need to contact the court with information about any witness testimony or evidence they'd like to present during the FRO hearing. The court needs to approve their witnesses and evidence first.

Enlisting the help of a criminal defense attorney is wise in these circumstances. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team in New Jersey can provide the representation someone accused of domestic violence or similar acts may need.

What Happens at a New Jersey Restraining Order Hearing?

Another benefit of hiring a lawyer (whether as a plaintiff or defendant) is that an attorney can explain the process of a FRO hearing. Knowing what to expect helps guard against stress during the experience.

The FRO hearing usually takes place in the county where the plaintiff filed an initial TRO request. There are exceptions, though. All parties should confirm they know where the hearing will take place.

In the digital age, some New Jersey FRO hearings take place over Zoom or similar video-conferencing platforms. All parties should still dress professionally and treat the process the same as they would if they were participating in a courthouse hearing.

The specifics of the FRO hearing process may sometimes vary depending on the unique details of a case. Usually, though, the FRO hearing process involves the following:

  • Information gathering: A staffer may speak with the plaintiff to learn what specific outcome they're seeking by requesting an FRO. During this time, someone may also explain the rights of each party and how they may present evidence during the hearing. Usually, the parties will be kept separate from one another.
  • Completing paperwork: There are various types of paperwork either party might need to complete during a FRO hearing. Often, the plaintiff may need to complete paperwork if they want an FRO to include a requirement that the defendant provide financial support.
  • Testimony: The judge will listen to testimony from the plaintiff and the defendant. They may also hear testimony from witnesses and any other such parties that may have insights into the case. Both parties will also have the opportunity to present evidence.

The hearing may also include oral arguments from the legal counsel of both sides. If you hire the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team, a representative can work with you to develop an oral argument that effectively summarizes your side of the story.

Appealing a Judge's Decision After a FRO Hearing

A defendant can appeal the judge's decision if a judge decides to issue a FRO after a hearing. They have 45 days from the date the judge issued the FRO to file an appeal.

Taking fast action is critical when a defendant disagrees with the outcome of a FRO hearing. That's partially because a FRO doesn't result in a criminal record.

On the one hand, not having a criminal record merely because a judge has granted an FRO is beneficial in many obvious ways. On the other hand, because an FRO isn't a mechanism of criminal enforcement, expunging an FRO from one's record isn't necessarily an option at any point. If a defendant doesn't appeal a FRO in a timely manner, often, the only way to remove one is for the plaintiff to petition the court for the FRO's dismissal.

That's not to say a defendant has no options if they don't file an appeal within the 45-day period. They could also move to vacate a FRO.

Filing a motion to vacate involves asking a judge to reconsider the terms of a FRO due to changed circumstances. The court may then examine the case and evaluate it based on several relevant factors to decide whether to grant the motion.

Contact a New Jersey Restraining Order Law Firm Today

Whether you're seeking a restraining order or someone has sought a restraining order against you, navigating these processes is easier when you have legal assistance from qualified professionals. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team can work with you every step of the way, giving you the peace of mind you get when knowledgeable attorneys are on your side. Learn more about how we can help by completing our online contact form today or calling us at 888-535-3686.

​​​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.

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