If someone is the victim of violence or assault, then they can seek the court's protection through a few different processes in New Jersey. If the alleged victim does not wish to seek criminal charges, but simply wants the court's protection, then he or she can seek a restraining order and/or a civil restraints order. Depending on the circumstances, a civil restraints order may be preferred over a restraining order by both the petitioner and the defendant. A civil restraints order can offer court protections just like a restraining order can, but with a civil protections order, the parties decide all of the terms. Make sure you evaluate whether a civil restraints order can be pursued in your case. If you are facing a restraining order petition, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.
What is a Civil Restraints Order?
A civil restraints order is an agreed-upon set of conditions that the court will enforce. It operates like a contract between the parties, where both parties negotiate and agree on the specific terms that they will abide by. A civil restraints order is different than a restraining order because a restraining order is determined by the court. A restraining order is only granted after a hearing to determine if the allegations are true and whether continued court protection is necessary. In a civil restraints order case, no final restraining order hearing takes place because the parties have negotiated and come to an agreement on terms.
If someone violates a civil restraints order, then he or she can expect different treatment from the court than if a restraining order was violated. If someone violates a civil restraints order, then he or she is like to only face a civil action, which can include a fine or other sanction as determined by the court. If someone violates a restraining order, then he or she will likely be arrested and face criminal prosecution for the alleged violation. Not all situations require police involvement, and this is where the advantages of a civil restraints order are prevalent.
Provisions of a Middlesex County Civil Restraints Order
A Middlesex County civil restraints order can prohibit a lot of the same conduct that can be prohibited in a restraining order granted by the court. Some of these provisions include:
- A prohibition on contact
- Specifically limited contact through agreed-upon means such as text message or email
- Allowed contact for certain purposes, such as children in common
- A prohibition on harassment
- A prohibition on assaultive or abusive conduct
- Any other reasonable provisions that that parties agree to
Civil restraints orders are contracts that the parties agree to that determine what type of conduct is and is not permitted. It is the responsibility of the parties to clearly outline and draft a civil restraints order, so there is not any confusion or conflict in the future.
When Can A Civil Restraints Order Be Entered?
A civil restraints order can be accepted and entered by a court during specific times such as a divorce or restraining order proceeding. Typically, you will only be able to seek a civil restraints order in a restraining order action after a judge issues a temporary restraining order (TRO) to a petitioner. TROs are liberally granted by the court as the laws for TROs are meant to offer immediate protection to petitioners. When a petitioner files for a TRO, an ex parte hearing will take place where only the judge and petitioner are involved. Once a TRO is granted, then a court date is set within ten days for a hearing to determine whether a final restraining order (FRO) should be granted that offers more permanent protection. A civil restraints order can be negotiated and entered in lieu of a final restraining order hearing. You cannot obtain a civil restraints order after a final restraining order has already been granted by the court.
Advantages a Civil Restraints Order Has Over a Restraining Order
A civil restraints order can be preferred over a restraining order for many reasons by both the petitioner and defendant. A civil restraints order can serve as an alternative resolution for the parties that can avoid the intensity of a restraining order hearing and decision. Both petitioner and defendant must be in agreement on all of the relevant terms related to their civil restraints order. If the petitioner does not agree to a civil restraints order, then the court will not accept nor enter one. A petitioner may select a civil restraints order because a civil restraints order:
- Still offers the petitioner court protection from the defendant
- Avoids the necessity of holding a final restraining order hearing
- Can be specifically tailored to the petitioner's needs
A petitioner may find several other advantages in choosing a civil restraints order over continuing with the restraining order process. A civil restraints order can be preferred by the defendant facing a restraining order proceeding because:
- The defendant will have a guaranteed outcome
- The defendant can avoid defending against a final restraining order
- The defendant can avoid the entry of a restraining order and all of the consequences that come with it
- The defendant will likely not face arrest or criminal prosecution if he or she commits a violation
If you are the defendant in a restraining order action, then a civil restraints order can be advantageous to you. Make sure you evaluate whether a civil restraints order is an available and potentially better option than fighting your case at a final restraining order hearing. The court can reject a proposed civil restraints order, so it is important that it is written correctly.
What Happens When a Court Grants a Civil Restraints Order?
When a court grants a civil restraints order, then it means that the judge has approved the agreement and entered it with the court. If anyone violates the provisions of the agreement in the future, then the court will look to the order to determine what the parties are required to do or not do. If a civil restraints order is granted, then it will not be entered onto police computers the same way a restraining order does. To enforce the provisions of a civil restraints order, the aggrieved party must file a motion to ask for the court's assistance.
What Happens if Someone Violates a Civil Restraints Order?
A civil restraints order is civil in nature, as its name implies. A restraining order is also a civil action, but a violation of a restraining order can land you in jail and can result in criminal charges, while a violation of a civil restraints order can result in other sanctions, including a fine. It is possible for a violation of a civil restraints order to result in a jail sentence, but it is uncommon.
If someone violates a restraining order, then he or she can face a criminal contempt charge which can result in up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Police involvement in a civil restraints order violation is rare but can happen and can become the basis for a restraining order petition or criminal charges.
Where Can I File a Civil Restraints Order in Middlesex County?
If you are looking to file a civil restraints order, then you should file it where the initial temporary restraining order (TRO) petition was filed. Any scheduled final restraining order hearings will be canceled once a civil restraints order is filed.
The Middlesex County Superior Court is located at:
56 Paterson Street
New Brunswick, NJ, 08903
The Court accepts complaints for restraining orders from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday-Friday.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate legal assistance in negotiating a civil restraints order. Do not try to negotiate your own civil restraints order because it can lead to a TRO violation and arrest.
Can I Have a Civil Restraints Order Canceled?
Yes, if both the petitioner and defendant agree to cancel the order and the judge accepts their decision. The parties involved retain a lot of power by agreeing to a civil restraints order. If you have legal 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 Middlesex 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.