New Jersey offers alleged victims of assault the option of seeking protective orders that are authorized by a court. There are different types of protective orders that are available in different situations, which offer protection in various ways. Restraining orders are commonly requested by alleged victims of assault or abuse and are only authorized after a hearing where both sides fight for their positions. In other cases, a civil restraints order can be an option for those seeking a less combative process.
Civil restraints orders are reached as an agreement between both sides, similar to how a contract is created. This option is more diplomatic than the typical restraining order process and might be what you need to resolve your issues. Once the terms of a civil restraints order are agreed upon, it will be presented to the court for approval. If you are facing a restraining order petition, then make sure that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to understand your options.
What Is a Civil Restraints Order?
A civil restraints order is basically a restraining order contract. It is negotiated and agreed upon how a contract is but offers court protection without the need for a judge to intervene. When a civil restraints order is discussed, the presiding judge does not supervise or control the negotiation. Once the parties are able to agree to terms, they are outlined in a proposed order and are offered to the judge for endorsement and entry. The purpose of the judge in these situations is to make sure that the agreement is appropriate and acceptable for entry.
In restraining order cases, the ultimate decision on whether to grant a restraining order lies with the judge. It is the judge's responsibility to not only determine what happened between the parties but also to determine what measures are needed to make sure there are no future issues. The petitioner is the main person that the judge is looking to protect in these scenarios if it is shown that the alleged acts took place. The court will hear testimony from the parties and other witnesses to determine what happened and what is appropriate. When a case is resolved through a civil restraints order, that hearing never happens, and an agreement is made between the parties on protection going forward.
Violations of provisions on a restraining order are treated differently than violations of provisions on a civil restraints order. When a violation occurs on a restraining order, the violation is a criminal matter and results in criminal charges and prosecution. When a violation occurs on a civil restraints order, the violation is typically a civil matter and results in civil enforcement. Both restraining orders and civil restraints orders offer the same court protection but differ in their enforcement.
Provisions of an Essex County Civil Restraints Order
Restraining orders and civil restraints orders in Essex County can offer similar court protection, including:
- No contact orders
- Limited contact orders allowing contact through text message or email
- Limited contact orders related to child custody
- Prohibitions against assaultive conduct, abusive conduct, or harassment
The petitioner and defendant, through their representatives, will negotiate and determine what provisions are needed for a civil restraints order. The parties should not attempt to do this negotiation directly, as it could violate any existing restraining orders or other orders prohibiting contact. If you have legal questions, make sure that you speak to an experienced attorney.
When Can A Civil Restraints Order Be Entered?
A civil restraints order can only be entered during specific proceedings. Generally, a civil restraints order can be entered by a court during a divorce proceeding or during a domestic proceeding such as a restraining order. If a civil restraints order is being entered during a restraining order proceeding, then it cannot be negotiated until the court has already granted a temporary restraining order (TRO).
The process for a petitioner to get a TRO granted is fairly straightforward. A petition must be filed with the proper court, and the judge will conduct a hearing with the petitioner to determine if immediate protection is warranted. This protection is temporary in nature and opens the door to a full hearing within the following ten days to determine if the protections should be made permanent. Civil restraints orders must be negotiated and completed before a final hearing takes place for a final restraining order. If a final hearing has already taken place for a final restraining order, then it is already too late to have a civil restraining order entered.
Advantages of a Civil Restraints Order Over a Restraining Order
The parties involved in a domestic dispute might prefer a civil restraints order over a restraining order for several reasons. Both the petitioner and defendant can find that a civil restraints order will satisfy their needs. Common reasons why a petitioner would prefer a civil restraints order include:
- Guaranteed court protection
- Avoidance of any intrusive hearings
- The ability to dictate specific terms
This is a partial list of reasons why a petitioner might prefer a civil restraints order over going through the restraining order process. Common reasons why a defendant might prefer a civil restraints order include:
- The ability to dictate specific terms
- Avoidance of any potentially dangerous hearings
- Avoidance of a restraining order
- Avoidance of police involvement for alleged violations
- Avoidance of employment issues that can arise with a restraining order
Starting a civil restraints order negotiation can be a great way to stop restraining order proceedings. Both petitioner and defendant must agree on all terms before a court will accept and enter a civil restraints agreement. The court does not have to accept a civil restraints agreement if it finds that the agreement is unreasonable or incomplete.
What Happens if Someone Violates a Civil Restraints Order?
Once a civil restraints order has been entered by the court, it is important to understand what can happen if there are violations alleged. A civil restraints order, as the name implies, is a civil action. If there is a violation of a civil restraints order, court sanctions do not typically include criminal charges unless the alleged violation is a criminal offense itself and independently leads to criminal charges.
A restraining order, while civil in nature, can lead to criminal contempt charges for any alleged violations. A conviction for a restraining order violation can result in up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. This is a key difference between these two forms of court protective orders and must be considered during court proceedings.
Where Can I File a Civil Restraints Order in Essex County?
If a temporary restraining order has been filed already, then a civil restraints order must be filed in the same court. If a temporary restraining order is sought in Essex County, then a civil restraints order must be filed with the Essex County Superior Court. Any previously scheduled final restraining order hearings will be canceled once a civil restraints order is filed.
The Essex County Superior Court is located at:
50 W Market St
Newark, NJ 07102
The Court is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday-Friday.
It is essential that you have an attorney's help related to a restraining order issue or for negotiating a civil restraints order. Trying to handle a restraining order or civil restraints order case on your own can lead to a violation of an existing temporary restraining order.
Can I Have a Civil Restraints Order Canceled?
Yes, just as a civil restraints order is entered by agreement, one can be canceled by agreement as long as the judge agrees to the cancelation. The positions and needs of the parties can change over time, and a civil restraints order allows the parties to seek the cancelation of existing orders through a request to the court. A civil restraints order cannot be canceled solely by the parties involved; the parties must have the court's approval before any existing orders are canceled. If the judge does not agree to the cancelation of a civil restraints order, then it will stay in effect. If you have questions, then call us at The Lento Law Firm so we can help!
Contact the Lento Law Firm Today
If you have questions about civil restraints orders in New Jersey, then it is important that you ask an experienced attorney. It is essential to know what the Essex 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 put you in the best position for success, regardless of your situation. To learn why the Lento Law Firm is the right choice, call us toll-free at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.