Defending Against a Restraining Order in New Jersey

If you've been served with a restraining order in New Jersey, you're probably wondering what happens next. Have you been charged with a crime? Can you defend yourself? You haven't been charged or convicted of a crime, but you should still take a restraining order seriously. You can fight to have it lifted, but doing so on your own might not be wise.

At the Lento Law Firm, we help people like you who have been served with restraining orders and aren't sure how to defend themselves. We can create a strong defense for your case, as well as guide you through the entire restraining order process. We understand that you're likely feeling overwhelmed right now, and we can help. Call our firm at 888-535-3686 or submit your information via our contact form so we can schedule a case consultation with you.

Restraining Orders in New Jersey

In New Jersey, the legal system recognizes two types of restraining orders: Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) and Final Restraining Orders (FRO). Both kinds of orders must be issued by a judge. A FRO in New Jersey is permanent, remaining in effect until either party requests the court to remove or dismiss the order. These protective orders generally provide safety measures for the complainant (accuser) and can impose financial responsibilities on you, such as support payments, rent, and temporary custody of children. Additionally, the order will restrict you from making any contact with the person who accused you, whether directly, through text messages, or via email.

Having a restraining order is a civil matter, but if you violate the terms of the restraining order, it's a criminal offense, and you could be arrested for criminal contempt of a court order. Even a small act, like texting or emailing the complainant when you're not supposed to have contact with them, can get you arrested and charged with a crime.

Restraining Order Defense

You are allowed to defend yourself when you get served with a TRO. At first, you'll have to comply with the TRO's terms, but you'll have the chance to attend a hearing to present your case. Having a lawyer present before, during, and after the hearing can make a huge difference. If you want a solid defense and a real chance to have the restraining order lifted, you should hire the Lento Law Firm.

Having an FRO can have a tremendous impact on your life. If the complainant is your partner, co-parent, member of your family, or someone close to you, you may have to move out of your home, leave your job, or stop seeing your children. It's essential that you defend against a restraining order so that you can attempt to avoid these negative consequences.

What To Do When Served With a TRO

The police will serve you a TRO, which will include a date for a hearing. Once this happens, you should take the following steps:

  1. Cooperate with the terms of the TRO as much as possible. You may have to leave your home and hand over firearms to the police.
  2. Call the Lento Law Firm's criminal defense team of attorneys to discuss the situation and receive guidance.
  3. Read the TRO carefully so you know what you can and cannot do. You don't want to violate the TRO.
  4. Contest the restraining order at the hearing. A TRO can be turned into a permanent FRO. However, the judge cannot issue an FRO until the FRO hearing. You should prepare thoroughly for the hearing and work with the Lento Law Firm to create a strong defense.

Defending Yourself at FRO Hearings

Not every TRO results in a hearing. In some cases, the complainant dismisses the order, or you and the complainant negotiate a solution through civil restraints. If you're unable to resolve the TRO in one of these two ways, the FRO hearing will take place. It's usually 10 days after the initial date of the TRO.

At the hearing, both you and your accuser will have the opportunity to present your sides of the story. You can both bring evidence and have witnesses testify in your favor. To issue an FRO against you, the judge has to find it more than 50 percent likely that:

  • You and the complainant have a domestic relationship
  • You committed an act of violence (such as assault, harassment, criminal restraint, sexual assault, false imprisonment, lewdness, cyber harassment, etc.)
  • There is an immediate need for restraints to prevent further acts of violence against the complainant.

Our attorneys at the Lento Law Firm can help you prepare for the hearing, including gathering evidence and contacting witnesses. Common types of evidence used in FRO hearings are photos, videos, text messages, emails, and social media posts.

Even if you have all of this evidence, you have to know which pieces of evidence the court will allow—it has to be relevant. You also have to submit the evidence to the court properly. The court has many rules regarding evidence for civil hearings, and you can easily get tripped up. If you're unsure about any processes regarding your FRO hearing, you should contact the Lento Law Firm for help. We've assisted many people with FRO hearings in New Jersey, and we know which kinds of evidence will be acceptable and how to submit it to the court properly.

Defense for FROs in New Jersey

To defend against an FRO in New Jersey, you usually have two options:

  1. Appeal the FRO immediately after the hearing.
  2. Dissolve the FRO after some time has passed.

Appeal the FRO

If your hearing results in an FRO against you, you have a chance to appeal the ruling. You must file an appeal within 45 days and state that there were errors in the hearing and that the decision must be reversed. You must have sufficient grounds for reversal in your appeal, such as:

  • The judge incorrectly applied the law
  • The judge misinterpreted the facts of the case
  • The judge incorrectly applied the rules of evidence
  • The judge's findings were not complete

Knowing what grounds you can appeal on is tricky and usually requires the help of an attorney. At the Lento Law Firm, our team can assist you with an FRO appeal and fight to get it reversed. With experience handling FRO appeals and restraining order cases in New Jersey, our team understands what the court is looking for in an appeal and which grounds are most likely to get your appeal accepted.

Dissolve the FRO

Although an FRO is permanent, it can be dissolved or modified for the proper cause. New Jersey's domestic violence laws prohibit FROs from terminating automatically. When someone petitions to have an FRO dismissed or modified, the petition is also heavily scrutinized.

The court typically looks at the following 11 factors to determine if good cause for an FRO dismissal exists:

  1. The complainant's opinion on whether the FRO should be lifted
  2. Whether the complainant still fears the defendant
  3. The current status of the relationship between the parties
  4. Whether there have been any violations of the order
  5. Involvement with drugs and alcohol
  6. Any incidents of violence committed by the defendant
  7. Whether the defendant completed the required counseling
  8. The defendant's current age and health status
  9. The complainant's “good faith”
  10. Other restraining orders against the defendant (if any)
  11. Other reasonable factors, at the court's discretion

It's important to note that the number of years that have passed or reconciliation between you and the defendant aren't factors the court considers in an FRO dismissal request. Even if you are on speaking terms with the complainant and you've resumed your prior relationship, it doesn't null and void the terms of the restraining order. There's also no set time period that influences the court's decision. Even if it's been 10 years since the FRO was in place, the court will not dismiss it if the above factors aren't favorable.

You can also ask to have the FRO modified, with some restrictions reduced. You will have to go through the same process as asking for an FRO dismissal, and the court will consider the same factors.

Building a case for an FRO dismissal or modification is tedious and time-consuming. If you aren't sure what's required to show “good cause” and help convince the court to drop the restraining order, you may end up wasting your time in asking for a dismissal. In any court dealings you have related to your New Jersey restraining order, you should have legal representation from the Lento Law Firm's team of criminal defense attorneys. We understand the workings of the court and how restraining order cases typically go. We can offer you advice at each step of the process and do the work of gathering evidence and presenting your case for you.

What's at Stake with New Jersey Restraining Orders

You have a great deal to lose if you have a restraining order against you in New Jersey. Staying away from the complainant isn't your only requirement—and even that restriction can take a dramatic toll on your everyday life. There are significant consequences to having a FRO and you should understand what's at stake if you want to defend against one.

  • Professional life: Some employers require you to report whether you are under a restraining order. You could be suspended or even dismissed from your job. If you hold a professional license, your licensing board could also start an investigation and possibly take your license away.
  • Custody: Restraining orders carry more weight than custody orders. Even if you have a custody order in place, a restraining order could still bar you from seeing your children. If you're in the middle of custody negotiations, the family court judge will take your restraining order into account.
  • Weapons: If you own weapons, you will most likely have to get rid of them once the restraining order is in place. You also cannot buy any new weapons. This requirement applies to firearms but also includes any type of “dangerous” weapons such as knives, tear gas, or stun guns.

You'll also probably face significant psychological and emotional obstacles as well. You have to simply cut off all contact with someone that you have been living with before—it can be frustrating to completely reorganize your life in order to comply with a restraining order. It's also not uncommon to feel shame, guilt, or embarrassment about a restraining order, even if you've done nothing wrong. You may also feel isolated if you're barred from communicating with friends and family.

As you can see, a restraining order isn't a small thing. It upends your life and forces you to make significant changes. Many people who receive an FRO can find it extremely difficult to adjust. For this reason, you should do everything in your power to fight your restraining order. As soon as you learn about the TRO, you should reach out to our criminal defense attorneys for guidance. We don't want you to have to deal with the negative consequences of a restraining order. We're prepared to build you a strong defense.

Contact a New Jersey Restraining Order Attorney

If you've been served with a TRO or already have an FRO in place, you should consult with the criminal defense attorneys at the Lento Law Firm. Navigating this process can be complex and emotionally draining—you shouldn't have to go through it by yourself. Our team can provide guidance and support as you deal with the restraining order. We can let you know which steps to take and build a strong defense for you.

We help many individuals throughout New Jersey who have been served with restraining orders, so we understand what you're going through. Call our firm today at 888-535-3686 or fill out our contact form, and a member of our team will get back to you.

​​​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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