Restraining (or protective) orders are court-issued civil order that seeks to protect victims from harassment, violence, and abuse. Two general classifications are domestic violence restraining orders and sexual assault restraining orders. Criminal charges may also be filed that relate to the order. Following an incident, victims have up to one year to file charges. Law enforcement may also file criminal charges and are required to do so when there is evidence of an injury or if a weapon was involved.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
Restraining orders that involve domestic violence are those that seek to protect someone from harm caused by a current or former member of the family. In addition, they apply for someone who the victim has a current or had a past dating relationship with, or who the victim has a child with or is pregnant by. Some of the crimes that may be considered as acts of domestic violence include assault, sexual assault, criminal trespassing, stalking, and others that create risks of injury or death.
Sexual Abuse Restraining Orders
Restraining orders for sexual abuse are sometimes referred to as sexual assault protective orders. They are civil orders designed to protect victims of sexually-oriented assault or non-consensual contact of a sexual nature. These are distinct from domestic violence orders, which involve a victim and someone they have an existing or former intimate relationship with. The order will protect the victim from a perpetrator that has allegedly attempted sexual contact, sexual penetration, or lewdness that is not consensual. The term non-consensual implies that one party has not willingly agreed to participate.
- Sexual contact: Involves knowingly touching someone regardless of whether they are clothed. This action may involve sexual organs, genitals, inner thigh, breast, or other personal areas. The actions may be intended to degrade or humiliate, or for some sexual arousal or gratification.
- Sexual penetration: Non-consensual intercourse conducted vaginally, orally, or anally. It also may involve penetration using fingers, hands, or objects.
- Lewdness: An act that is motivated by sexual arousal or gratification where someone's genitals are exposed.
Applying for an Order
Those who wish to file an application for a protective order may do so regardless of if they have filed or intend to file criminal charges. The application does not prevent the filing or maintenance of prosecution. The address of the victim may be omitted from the application. The order is to be filed in a court located in the jurisdiction where either the victim lives or where the alleged conduct took place.
Potential Requirements an Order May Include
The court order may prohibit the alleged offender (respondent) from any future acts of a nature related to those that are the subject of the allegations. The respondent may be prohibited from places where the victim is employed, attends school, lives, or other locations deemed as appropriate by the court. The respondent may be prohibited from contacting the victim or others in their family or household, either directly or through a third-party. This applies to communication over the phone, in writing, electronically, etc.
Importance of Retaining Legal Counsel
If you are subject to a temporary restraining order, you have a right to defend yourself. Depending on the circumstances, the order may have an adverse impact on your ability to stay in your home, see your children, and many other consequences. Consulting with seasoned legal counsel is highly recommended in these situations.
Defense Lawyer for Those Subject to Protective Orders
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent years defending the rights of clients in New Jersey. He will assess the situation and implement a strategy that protects your best interests. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for a consultation.