Final Restraining Order Hearing

When someone accuses you of domestic violence in New Jersey, a judge may issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). Abiding by the TRO's conditions is key to avoiding additional trouble.

Upon receiving notice of the TRO, you'll also receive information about the Final Restraining Order hearing. During this hearing, a judge will decide if a long-term restraining order needs to be in effect.

The judge's decision at the hearing can influence everything from your finances to your ability to see your kids. Having legal representation is essential now.

At the Lento Law Firm, our NJ Criminal Defense Team can get to work on your case to protect your rights. The sooner we get started, the more time we have to work on your defense. Learn more by contacting us online or calling us at 888-535-3686 today.

What Happens During a Final Restraining Order Hearing in NJ?

The specifics of a Final Restraining Order hearing can depend on the specifics of the case. Generally, though, the Final Restraining Order hearing will involve the following:

  • A judge listens to testimony from both parties.
  • The judge determines whether domestic violence has occurred.
  • The judge decides whether to grant a Final Restraining Order (FRO).
  • In some cases, a judge may leave a TRO in effect without issuing an FRO. They may do so if a complaint needs to be amended. Or, they may delay a hearing until a later date. They might do so if your accuser needs more time to gather evidence or for any other reasons they deem appropriate.

A FRO can have a significant impact on your life. The nature of its impact will depend, at least in part, on the nature of the relief the judge grants.

What Types of Relief Can an FRO Involve in New Jersey?

The following are common prohibitions and requirements an FRO might include:

  • Barring you from visiting your accuser at their home, place of work, or anywhere else they may regularly be
  • Prohibiting you from contacting your accuser in any way
  • Requiring you to participate in substance abuse counseling
  • Prohibiting you from stalking or threatening to stalk your accuser
  • Prohibiting you from harming or threatening to harm your accuser
  • Requiring you to pay child support
  • Prohibiting you from engaging in future acts of domestic violence
  • Prohibiting you from possessing dangerous weapons

You'll likely have to pay a penalty if the court issues an FRO. The penalty can range from $50 to $500.

The Family Division of NJ's courts will also send a copy of the FRO to the police where your accuser lives. Your accuser may also provide copies of the FRO to schools, their employer, and any other relevant establishments and entities.

When issuing an FRO, the judge may grant your accuser full custody of any children you have together. They may also grant them possession of such shared property as your home.

It's impossible to guarantee whether a judge will issue an FRO and what types of relief the FRO may include if they do. What's most important is having a proper defense. Our team at the Lento Law Firm is prepared to offer one.

Preparing for an FRO Hearing in New Jersey

Official guidelines for defendants preparing for FRO hearings in New Jersey are as follows:

  • You may present evidence during the hearing. However, you will have to contact the court ahead of time to let them know about any evidence you plan on presenting. You may also let the court know about any witnesses who may testify on your behalf.
  • You must bring proof of employment benefits or disability benefits if you're unemployed and receiving such benefits.
  • You must arrive at the hearing. If you miss the hearing or are late, the judge may issue an FRO without listening to your side of the story.

Some FRO hearings now take place over Zoom or similar video-conferencing tools. Always treat a FRO hearing seriously. Dress for court even if you don't actually have to go to court to participate.

Sometimes, an accuser may change their mind and decide they won't want an FRO. The accuser can ask the judge to dismiss the case at the hearing if so.

Don't skip the hearing because your accuser has told you they've changed their mind. They may not be telling the truth. Or, they could change their mind again when the actual hearing arrives.

Preparing for an FRO hearing doesn't need to be as stressful as you may assume. You can hire an attorney to represent you during the hearing. Helpful members of the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team will ensure you're thoroughly prepared for this experience.

Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing for a Final RO Hearing in New Jersey

Taking the right steps before a FRO hearing is vital. So is avoiding common mistakes. Errors to steer clear of when preparing for an FRO hearing include:

  • Attempting to contact your accuser
  • Discussing the case with anyone other than your lawyer
  • Posting about the case in any capacity on social media
  • Attempting to dispose of evidence

Not gathering your own evidence is another common error. You might assume that it's on your accuser to prove an FRO is necessary. You may therefore conclude that you don't need to gather evidence to defend yourself.

That's not so. If any evidence can help you show why an FRO isn't warranted, you should actively gather it in preparation for your hearing.

Don't worry if you're afraid of making mistakes that will jeopardize your case. At the Lento Law Firm, members of our NJ Criminal Defense Team will help you thoroughly understand what you should and shouldn't do in these circumstances.

Types of Evidence You May Present During an FRO Hearing

Both parties can present various forms of evidence during an FRO hearing in New Jersey. Common forms of evidence in such hearings include:

  • Text messages, emails, voicemails, and other forms of communication
  • Police records
  • Medical records
  • Photos of bruising
  • Photos of damaged property
  • Witness testimony

The types of evidence someone presents during a FRO hearing can depend on their goals. For example, your accuser might be seeking child support. If so, they may include financial records as evidence.

Gathering as much evidence as you can is often helpful before an FRO hearing. The evidence you present may help you refute the allegations against you. Gathering evidence prior to a hearing is one of many tasks the Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can assist you with.

A FRO Adds Your Name to New Jersey's Domestic Violence Central Registry

New Jersey's Domestic Violence Central Registry maintains listings for individuals who have had FROs issued against them in New Jersey. However, this is not merely a state tool. The registry exists due to state and federal cooperation.

The registry allows police to track the whereabouts of someone who has allegedly committed domestic violence in New Jersey. Doing so is key to enforcing FROs.

Having your name listed in the New Jersey Domestic Violence Central Registry can also result in such consequences as:

  • Employment issues
  • Housing issues
  • Loss of professional licenses
  • Disqualifying you from obtaining professional licenses
  • Disqualifying you from being a foster parent

The public doesn't have access to the registry. That said, information from the registry may be released to the following parties:

  • Public agencies with the authority to investigate domestic violence
  • Any law enforcement agency authorized to investigate domestic violence
  • Any law enforcement agency conducting a background check for the sale of a firearm
  • Any law enforcement agency conducting a background check to screen an applicant
  • A court, if a court finds that accessing the registry may be necessary to make a decision on a relevant issue
  • Superior Court clerks preparing information relevant to adoption proceedings
  • The Division of Child Protection and Permanency, when looking into child abuse/neglect allegations and/or out-of-home placement options for a child

Having your name on the registry can complicate your life for years. The stigma of being listed on the registry may affect everything from your career to your personal relationships. This is just one more reason to seek representation from the Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm when preparing for a FRO hearing.

The Consequences of Violating a FRO in New Jersey

Abiding by the terms of a FRO is essential if a judge issues one. Your lawyer can explain the conditions to ensure you thoroughly understand them.

“Purposely and knowingly” disobeying a judicial order is a crime of the fourth degree in New Jersey. Minimum penalties for a crime of the fourth degree may involve up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Penalties may be more severe depending on the final sentence.

The phrasing of the law is significant here. Someone who technically disobeys the conditions of an FRO in New Jersey might not be guilty of a crime if they didn't realize they were violating an FRO.

Such nuances highlight the importance of legal assistance. Again, the Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can help you understand the terms of your FRO if a judge issues one. We can also help if you're accused of violating the terms of your FRO.

How Long Does a FRO Last in New Jersey?

A FRO is permanent unless certain action is taken. Specifically, the plaintiff can ask that the FRO be dismissed.

Convincing your accuser to ask for the dismissal of a FRO might require cultivating a positive relationship with them. Doing so may be difficult or impossible if the terms of a TRO or FRO prohibit you from contacting your accuser.

You also have the option of appealing the judge's decision if they grant an FRO. Enlist the help of the Lento Law Firm to navigate this process.

Appealing an FRO in New Jersey

Don't delay if you wish to appeal a judge's FRO hearing decision. You have 45 days from the hearing to file an appeal.

Filing an appeal involves submitting a formal written request. Your request should describe how errors during your hearing warrant a reversal. If the court grants your appeal, a higher court judge may examine the case next. They might be more likely to decide in your favor.

Potential grounds for a reversal a court may consider include:

  • A judge incorrectly interpreted or applied the relevant NJ statute. Basically, you may allege the judge issued an FRO based on a misunderstanding or misapplication of NJ law.
  • A judge made a decision based on a misinterpretation of the facts. Even if a judge properly applies the law, they could issue a FRO erroneously if they misunderstood any of the facts of the case.
  • The judge made a mistake relating to evidence. For example, maybe the judge considered evidence that should not have been considered in your type of case. Or, maybe they refused to consider evidence that they should have allowed.
  • The judge didn't properly state their reasoning. When a judge issues a FRO, they must state the grounds for doing so. The court might grant your appeal if you can show the judge didn't thoroughly explain why an FRO is warranted.

That's not an exhaustive list. The right strategy for an appeal can vary on a case-by-case basis.

At the Lento Law Firm, our Criminal Defense Team will work closely with you to understand the details of your case. We'll develop a strategy that's tailored to your specific needs.

Contact New Jersey FRO Hearing Lawyers

Whether you're preparing for an FRO hearing, appealing the results of one, or facing accusations of violating an FRO, having knowledgeable attorneys by your side is helpful for many reasons. The Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can help with gathering evidence, speaking on your behalf during a hearing, and much more.

You shouldn't try to navigate these processes alone. You'll enjoy greater peace of mind when you have representation from qualified New Jersey FRO hearing lawyers. Get started today by calling us at 888-535-3686 or contacting us online to set up a meeting and discuss your case.

​​​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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