If an individual wants court-ordered protection from someone else, then he or she can accomplish this in a few different ways in New Jersey. While many will seek a restraining order, many others may find that a civil restraints order can suit their needs. A civil restraints order gives a petitioner court protection in a way similar to a restraining order, but with a few important differences. Civil restraints orders are arrived at in a more diplomatic way where both sides agree to terms, and the agreement is presented to the court. Make sure that a civil restraints order is available in your case. If you are facing a restraining order petition, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
What is a Civil Restraints Order?
A civil restraints order is both a protective order and an agreement. It can restrain the actions and conduct of an individual just like a restraining order but has a few key differences. A civil restraints order is arrived at through agreement of the parties, not through the decision and order of the court like a restraining order. When parties agree on a civil restraints order, it is done so without the involvement of the judge. In a civil restraints order case, the judge's role is to determine whether the agreed-upon resolution is reasonable and acceptable by the court. The role of a judge in a restraining order hearing is to determine what happened and devise the most appropriate solution.
The sanctions for violations of a civil restraints order also differ from a restraining order. A violation of a civil restraints order is generally only a civil matter, while a violation of a restraining order is usually a criminal matter. Both civil restraints orders and restraining orders offer protection from the court, so it is important to determine which approach is the most desirable for your situation.
Provisions of a Mercer County Civil Restraints Order
Restraining orders and civil restraints orders can both contain similar provisions, but the enforcement of those provisions can vary greatly. A Mercer County civil restraints order can include:
- No contact orders
- Limited contact orders that allow contact through specific means such as text message or email
- Limited purpose contact orders (i.e., issues related to children in common)
- Orders that prohibit any form of harassment
- Orders that prohibit assaultive or other abusive conduct
- Any other reasonable provisions that are agreed upon
It is important to remember that the parties, not the judge, determine what goes into a civil restraints agreement. Make sure that all provisions of a civil restraints order are fully settled and drafted correctly to avoid any potential misunderstanding.
When Can A Civil Restraints Order Be Entered?
Civil restraints orders can be entered during a divorce or domestic proceeding, such as a restraining order. Generally, a civil restraints order cannot be sought until a temporary restraining order (TRO) has already been granted by the court. TROs are not difficult to obtain as the laws are designed to protect alleged victims. TRO hearings are conducted ex parte and only include the judge and the alleged victim. Once a judge grants a TRO, then the defendant is served with the TRO, and a date is set within ten days to hold a hearing to determine whether a final restraining order should be granted. If this hearing happens and the judge grants a final restraining order, then it is generally too late to seek a civil restraints order.
Advantages a Civil Restraints Order Has Over a Restraining Order
Both the petitioner and defendant in a case may prefer a civil restraints order over a restraining order for several reasons. Parties can enter into a civil restraints agreement as an alternative route to a final solution regarding the parties. In restraining order cases, the petitioner is the person seeking protection, and the defendant is the person the petitioner allegedly needs protection from. The petitioner must be on board with a civil restraints agreement before one will be accepted by the court. The petitioner may prefer a civil restraints order over a restraining order because:
- The petitioner will be protected from the defendant by the court
- The petitioner won't have to endure a final restraining order hearing
- The petitioner will have more say in the terms of the order
There are other potential advantages that a petitioner may have in seeking a civil restraints order instead of a final restraining order (FRO). The defendant may prefer a civil restraints order over defending a restraining order petition because:
- The ability to know the outcome of the proceeding
- The ability to avoid defending a final restraining order hearing
- The ability to avoid a final restraining order altogether
- The ability to avoid law enforcement if there are alleged violations
- The ability to avoid employment or professional licensing issues that come with a restraining order
A civil restraints order can be a great option for someone defending against a restraining order petition. It is important to understand that both parties must be in complete agreement about the provisions of a civil restraints agreement before a judge will accept the agreement and enter it. The court is not required to accept a civil restraints agreement, so it is the responsibility of the parties to come to an acceptable agreement.
What Happens When a Court Grants a Civil Restraints Order?
If a court grants a civil restraints order, then it has accepted the agreement and entered it at the court. If there are any issues or alleged violations, then the court will refer to the civil restraints order entered for guidance on what was expected of the parties. A motion must be filed with the court to enforce the agreement and impose sanctions on a party for violating the terms of a civil restraints order.
What Happens if Someone Violates a Civil Restraints Order?
A civil restraints order is considered a civil action in New Jersey, as is a restraining order. There are significant differences between a civil restraints order and a restraining order when it comes to violations and how they are treated. A violation of a civil restraints order can lead to a motion to the judge to impose sanctions or enforce the terms of the order in some way. In most cases, jail is not imposed for violations of civil restraints orders. Conversely, a violation of a restraining order can lead to a criminal contempt charge which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. A civil restraints order violation can involve the police if the violation is the basis for a restraining order or criminal charges.
Where Can I File a Civil Restraints Order in Mercer County?
A civil restraints order should be filed in the county where the temporary restraining order (TRO) petition was filed. If the petition was filed in Mercer County, then a civil restraints order must be filed with the Mercer County Superior Court. Any scheduled FRO hearings will be canceled once a civil restraints order is filed.
The Mercer County Superior Court is located at:
175 South Broad Street
Trenton, NJ, 08650
The Court accepts complaints for restraining orders from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from Monday-Friday.
Make sure that you have professional legal help related to a restraining order issue or for negotiating a civil restraints order. Trying to negotiate a civil restraints order on your own can lead to a TRO violation and arrest.
Can I Have a Civil Restraints Order Canceled?
Yes, a civil restraints order can be canceled if the parties and the judge agree to cancel it. Once the order is canceled, then its terms are no longer enforceable by the court. It is important to understand that civil restraints orders are negotiated orders where both sides were able to agree on their terms. Restraining orders are orders made by a judge based on their view of the situation and what the best solutions are. The parties involved may have positions or priorities that change over time, and negotiating a civil restraints order gives them more authority to dictate what happens. If you have questions, then call us at the Lento Law Firm!
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 Mercer 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 help put you in the best position for success. To learn why attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are the right choice, call us at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.