Hitting, Kicking, Physical Harm and Restraining Orders: What You Need to Know

Allegations that you have hit, kicked, or physically harmed a partner or an ex-partner are a serious matter. Courts rarely take matters of domestic violence lightly. If your partner or ex-partner has reported you to law enforcement officials, they can take legal action, including criminal charges and a restraining order. Restraining orders are serious and can be effective immediately, making your life much more difficult.

If your partner or ex-partner takes legal action against you, you must immediately defend yourself. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team is here to fight against the domestic violence allegations against you. Our attorneys will defend you at every turn, including battling the restraining order against you. At the Lento Law Firm, we understand that not every case where a person is accused of hitting or kicking their partner is cut and dry. Often, in self-defense, accident, or other similar situations, law enforcement and even the courts brush off these defenses seriously, even if they have devastating impacts on your life. To speak with a Lento Law Firm attorney regarding a restraining order and criminal charges against you, call 888-535-3686 or contact us online today.

How does New Jersey Define Hitting, Kicking, and Physical Harm Under the Law?

Under New Jersey law, hitting, kicking, or causing physical harm to another person will be charged as assault. New Jersey recognizes two types of assault: simple assault and aggravated assault.

Simple Assault

While simple assault is the less severe charge you could face for hitting or kicking your partner or ex-partner. A person can be found guilty of simple assault if they:

  • Attempt to cause, purposely, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another
  • Negligently causing bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon
  • Attempt by physical menace to put another in fear of bodily harm

Kicking and striking can fall within the first two situations. If your partner or ex-partner alleges you struck them with a deadly weapon, you will fall within the second category.

Simple assault is generally considered a disorderly persons offense, but it can be escalated to aggravated assault when committed in a domestic violence situation. What that means is that even if you committed what is considered a simple assault, and the act does not meet the requirements for an aggravated assault (as discussed below), you could face a more severe charge if your relationship with the party makes the incident one of domestic violence. When hitting and kicking become a domestic violence issue, it will be discussed further below.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is the more severe charge you can face as a result of hitting or striking another person, in this case, a partner or ex-partner. New Jersey law considers a person guilty of aggravated assault if they:

  • Attempt to cause serious bodily injury to another, or cause injury purposely or knowingly or under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life recklessly causes such injury
  • Attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly cause bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon
  • Recklessly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon

When Does Hitting, Kicking, and Physical Harm Become a Domestic Violence Matter?

While you can certainly face, and would likely face, at minimum, criminal charges and possibly a restraining order for hitting, kicking, or causing physical harm to any person, in some scenarios, it will fall under the category of domestic violence. You must have a specific relationship with the person you have hit, kicked, or caused physical harm to for it to be considered domestic violence in New Jersey. To count as domestic violence, you must have one of the following types of relationships with the person claiming abuse:

  • A spouse
  • A former spouse or spouse you are currently separated from
  • A person you have shared a residence with
  • A person you are expecting a child with
  • A person you share a child with
  • A person you have or are currently dating

New Jersey law, New Jersey's Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, specifically outlines 19 crimes which, if committed against a person you have one of the above relationships with, constitute domestic violence. As stated above, hitting, kicking, or physically harming another person falls under the crime of assault, and as assault is included in the law's definition of domestic violence, the basis of a domestic violence restraining order against you can be hitting or kicking.

The state does not take domestic violence lightly; in fact, domestic violence assault charges for hitting and kicking are often taken more seriously than when committed outside of a domestic violence situation. You must defend yourself if you are being accused of domestic violence for hitting or kicking a partner and facing a restraining order. Calling the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team immediately allows our team to start defending you right out of the gate and working to mitigate any impact of the allegations against you.

When Can a Judge Issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) Against You?

Unfortunately, your partner or ex-partner doesn't need to do or prove much to get a temporary restraining order (TRO) against you. You may think that a court cannot take any action against you, including ordering and enforcing a restraining order if you have not been found guilty of criminal charges for hitting or kicking your partner. That is not the case; even without a criminal conviction, a restraining order can be taken against you.

When it comes to a TRO, you won't even have the opportunity to defend yourself before it is issued. In fact, you won't even be notified and may not be aware that your partner or ex-partner is pursuing a TRO until after the request is granted. When you are not notified of a restraining order request against you, this type of restraining order is called an ex parte TRO. The New Jersey Superior Court will review only the information your partner or ex-partner has presented to the Court supporting the allegations that you have kicked or hit them. A New Jersey Superior Court judge can issue a TRO if they believe you present a risk to your partner or ex-partner and the TRP is necessary to protect their life, health, or well-being.

What Happens When a Temporary Restraining Order is Granted?

TROs will contain information regarding the restrictions imposed against you and the next steps in the restraining order process. Typically, a TRO will set a specific distance between you and your partner or ex-partner. Physical distance is not the only thing included in a TRO; generally, it will also contain provisions prohibiting you from contacting your partner or ex-partner in any way while the TRO is active. This includes physical means such as mail and electronic means such as phone calls, text messages, DMs or comments on social media platforms, and more.

As stated in the name, a TRO is temporary; it can only be in effect for a maximum of 10 days or until a hearing is scheduled before the Superior Court Judge. The Court must schedule the restraining order hearing within 10 days after it issues the TRO. When a TRO is granted and issued against you, law enforcement will notify you of such and provide you with a copy of the TRO. Law enforcement may remove you from your home if you share a residence with your partner or ex-partner. You may think that it cannot be legal for you to be kicked out of your home, especially if your name is listed on the deed, mortgage, or lease, and you are paying for the home. While you're right that it isn't fair, unfortunately, it is entirely legal. A TRO can ban you from entering your own property during the duration of the TRO. When law enforcement serves you with the TRO, it can also take any firearms registered to you. The scheduled hearing will determine whether you will get these weapons back.

Will You be Subject to a Final Restraining Order (FRO) for Allegedly Hitting, Kicking, or Causing Physical Harm?

The hearing you were notified of in the TRO will determine if the alleged hitting or kicking incident will result in a final restraining order (FRO) being issued against you. Unlike the TRO process, you have the opportunity to defend yourself before the Court. Even if you have strong evidence to support that your partner or ex-partner has lied to the Court or you have a defense to present, such as self-defense, do not represent yourself at the FRO hearing. You should contact the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team as soon as you receive the TRO notice. You likely have less than 10 days to collect evidence and prepare your defense. Our team has successfully represented countless New Jersey clients in TRO hearings where they are accused of hitting or kicking a partner or ex-partner. We do this daily and are familiar with how to best present your defense to increase your chances of avoiding the Court issuing a FRO against you.

Your Lento Law Firm attorneys will present evidence and make a solid and effective case on your behalf before the Superior Court. Once the hearing is concluded, the Judge will decide if an FRO is an appropriate course of action considering the hitting or kicking allegations against you. Like the TRO, the FRO will include provisions limiting or eliminating physical and other contact between you and your partner or ex-partner. A FRO can also include provisions regarding temporary child custody, financial support payments, mortgage, rent, and other bills. If you choose to remain in a relationship with your partner, the FRO may require you and your partner to attend therapy to work on the relationship and the issues resulting in the FRO.

Can a New Jersey Final Restraining Order be Appealed?

Appealing an FRO is possible within the first 45 days of its issuance. However, if you still have criminal charges pending related to the hitting or kicking incident, the chances of the FRO being overturned are limited. If you have not been represented in the restraining order process, it is still worth contacting the Lento Law Firm. Our Criminal Defense Team will discuss the process and likelihood of success of your case upon appeal.

What Are the Consequences of a Final Restraining Order?

When the Court issues a FRO against you for hitting or kicking a partner or ex-partner, you will be placed on New Jersey's Domestic Violence Registry and a national domestic violence registry. If law enforcement seized your firearms at the time they delivered your TRO, you will not be getting them back, and if you have additional firearms, you must surrender them to law enforcement. Those who are on the Domestic Violence Registry cannot own a firearm. The Court may also issue a $500 fine.

As with a TRO, an FRO can result in removal from your home. Your Lento Law Firm attorneys will explain the intricacies of how living arrangements and bill-paying requirements will work after the FRO has been issued. Most upsettingly, an FRO can, in some cases, result in you losing custody of your children, although this will ultimately be handled by a judge in family court.

Aside from your personal life, FRO can impact your career. It is important to note that FROs, unlike criminal charges, are civil orders. Because they are a civil order, they will not show up on a criminal background check, but if you were found guilty of criminal charges related to the hitting or kicking allegation that spurred the FRO, that would be picked up on a background check. You should also be aware that employers may check New Jersey's Domestic Violence Registry and the National Domestic Violence Registry in their hiring process and may be biased against those who are listed.

What Happens if You Violate the Restraining Order Against You?

Violating a TRO or FRO is a criminal offense. Law enforcement enforces restraining orders, and a violation will land you back in Court. Under New Jersey law, you cannot "purposely or knowingly violate any provision in an order entered under the provisions of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act;" doing so is a fourth-degree criminal violation.

How Long Does a Final Restraining Order Last?

A New Jersey FRO does not expire and will be enforced in every U.S. state and territory. A FRO or TRO can be modified or dismissed in the New Jersey Superior Court Family Division, but it is quite the process. It isn't as simple as your partner or ex-partner withdrawing the hitting or kicking allegations against you. A request must be made to the New Jersey Superior Court, during which time you cannot violate the terms of the FRO.

Hire a Skilled Attorney to Fight the Allegations Against You

The seasoned attorneys at the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team will work tirelessly to ensure a restraining order is not filed against you for the hitting or kicking allegations made against you. Our team will effectively present the facts of your case, always painting you in the best possible light and increasing your chances of a favorable outcome. Retain the Lento Law Firm today by calling us at 888-535-3686 or contacting us online.

​​​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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