If you live in New Jersey and are going through the restraining order process, it's extremely important to know about the different types of protective orders that are offered to alleged abuse victims by the state courts. The types of protection orders and the powers that they offer are similar in some ways, but they differ greatly in other ways. Restraining orders are the most common type of order sought by alleged victims of abuse or assault, but people who are looking for more diplomatic approaches to protection orders have another option. This option is called a “civil restraints order.”
A civil restraints order is a type of protection order that takes the restraining order process outside of the courtroom and places it in the hands of the petitioner and respondent. With civil restraints orders, both parties meet at the negotiating table and mutually agree on protection order terms that work for both of them and that the court will then enforce.
Restraining order cases are those that are decided in the courtroom after the judge hears testimony from the petitioner and their attorney about why a restraining order should be granted. With a civil restraints order, you're skipping that whole hearing process, and instead, the two parties work out arrangements on their own with the assistance of legal counsel. If you're facing the possibility of being hit with a restraining order, make sure that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can get the legal help that you need.
What Is a Civil Restraints Order?
A civil restraints order can best be described as a type of restraining order contract. When a civil restraints order is brought before the court, the judge in the process is not responsible for controlling or supervising any of the negotiations. Once the parties in the case agree to terms that work for both of them and outline their agreement in a proposal, they will then present that proposal to the court so that the court can decide whether or not to accept it and enter it into the record. In a civil restraints order hearing proceeding, the judge's main purpose is to make sure that the measures that the parties agreed to are appropriate and that the agreement is complete.
When you're dealing with a regular restraining order case, the judge, in that case, is tasked with figuring out what happened between the parties and deciding whether or not they're going to grant the protection order. The petitioner needs to show that the defendant actually did the acts as alleged and show that they need continued protection. The petitioner will have to give testimony about what the defendant did and bring in witnesses or evidence to help the judge figure out and determine if the restraining order needs to be authorized.
With the civil restraints order process, none of this happens. Instead, the agreement is made between the parties as to the types of protections that will exist going forward.
When it comes to both civil restraints orders and restraining orders, both offer protection to the petitioner against unwanted contact and any type of assault, but there are differences in how they're enforced.
If someone were to violate a restraining order, they'd be committing a criminal offense. Violating a restraining order is a crime that can land the defendant in very serious legal trouble. They could end up facing criminal charges. This is the case even if they didn't commit another criminal act while violating the order.
When someone violates a civil restraints order, it's viewed as a breach of contract, and it usually results in civil penalties handed down by the court. However, if someone commits a criminal act while violating a civil restraints order, they could face criminal charges.
Provisions of a Hunterdon County Civil Restraints Order
Whether you're dealing with a restraining order or a civil restraints order in Hunterdon County, both types of orders offer significant protection from the court. Some of that protection includes the following:
- No contact orders
- Orders that allow limited contact through email or via text messaging
- Orders that allow limited contact in cases where there are child custody issues
- Orders against abusive conduct
- Orders against any assaultive conduct
- Orders against harassment
When the two parties involved in a civil restraints order case meet, they will discuss and figure out which protections and measures will be necessary in order for an agreement to happen. They will meet via their legal counsel. Under no circumstances should you enter the civil restraints order process on your own. First of all, doing so could cause you to violate any existing restraining order. Secondly, an experienced attorney will be able to help you negotiate terms that make sense for you as well as to the petitioner.
When Can a Civil Restraints Order Be Entered?
Civil restraints orders are entered during proceedings like domestic court proceedings or divorce proceedings where a restraining order has been sought. If the two parties involved in those proceedings are willing to negotiate and enter a civil restraints order during the restraining order proceeding, they can only do so once a temporary restraining order has been issued by the court.
When an alleged victim seeks a temporary restraining order, they need to file a detailed petition with the court and attend a hearing with the judge, who will then make a decision as to whether or not immediate protection is needed. If the judge determines that the protection order is needed, a temporary restraining order will be issued. Once that order has been issued, the date for the final restraining order hearing will be issued, usually 10 days after the temporary order has been filed. At the final restraining order hearing, the judge will determine if the order needs to stay in place permanently.
If the parties involved in the case have decided that they'd rather have a civil restraints order, then they'll have to make sure that they file before the final restraining order hearing takes place. If the final restraining order has already been issued in the case, a civil restraints order cannot be issued.
Advantages of a Civil Restraints Order Over a Restraint Order
There are several key reasons that a petitioner may decide to go forward with a civil restraints order instead of a restraint order. They may find that there are more advantages to these types of orders than the ones that come with traditional restraining orders. Some of those advantages include the following:
- They will know that they will be guaranteed a protective order, something that isn't guaranteed with a traditional restraining order filing
- They will be able to avoid the stress of having to go through the final restraining order process
- They will be able to choose which terms make the most sense for their specific situation
There are advantages for defendants as well when it comes to civil restraints orders. Some of those include the following:
- They'll be able to negotiate terms that are amenable to them
- They'll be able to avoid the stress of having to go through a final restraining order hearing
- They will be able to avoid having to go through law enforcement if there are alleged violations
- They'll be able to avoid the types of employment and professional issues that arise when someone has a restraint order on their record
If you want to stop restraining orders from happening, a civil restraints order is an excellent way to make that happen. Remember that both the petitioner and the defendant must agree on the terms of the order before the court will accept it and enter it for enforcement. If the court decides that the order is not complete or isn't reasonable, it will not accept it.
What Happens if Someone Violates a Civil Restraints Order?
If someone violates a civil restraints order, the penalties are usually civil and not criminal. This is very different from what happens if someone violates a traditional restraining order. Violation of a traditional restraining order is a criminal act in and of itself and can result in criminal charges. Restraining order violations can lead to the defendant being found guilty of criminal contempt charges. These types of charges can lead to jail terms of up to 180 days and a fine of up to $1,000.
Where Can I File a Civil Restraints Order in Hunterdon County?
If you've already filed a restraining order in Hunterdon County Superior Court, the civil restraints order petition needs to be filed in the same court. Once the Civil restraints order has been filed, any final restraining order hearing will be canceled.
The Hunterdon County Superior Court is located at:
65 Park Avenue
Flemington, NJ 08822
The court is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
Can I Have a Civil Restraints Order Canceled?
A civil restraints order can be canceled if both parties want it to be canceled. In order to have the order canceled, they must file a petition with the court. The civil restraints order can only be canceled if a judge approves it. If the judge doesn't agree to the cancellation, it will stay in effect until the judge believes that the cancellation would be appropriate.
Contact the Lento Law Firm Today
It's extremely important that you know exactly what the Hunterdon County Superior Court is looking for when it's deciding whether or not to grant a civil restraints order. Joseph D. Lento and the experienced team at the Lento Law Firm have years of experience handling these types of cases, and they can provide you with what you need in order to ensure the best possible outcome. Call us toll-free at 888-535-3686, or contact us online.