If someone wants a court order to restrain someone else's activity, then there are a few different options that exist in the state of New Jersey. One such option is that of a civil restraints order. A civil restraints order can accomplish many of the same things that a restraining order or another protective order can, but with more of a diplomatic and negotiated approach. In certain scenarios, parties that share children may need court oversight while there is a continued need for the parties to have limited contact. Civil restraints orders are not always available, so it is important to determine if it is viable to seek a civil restraints order. 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 an order given by a court to restrain certain individuals from having contact or being in the vicinity of another individual. It has similar authority to a restraining order but is arrived at in a different way than a restraining order and has different consequences for violations. Restraining orders are granted by judges when there are allegations of violence and are intended to keep people safe from threatening or harmful individuals. Civil restraints orders offer court protection but are agreed-upon contracts between the parties involved. Judges do not determine the provisions in a civil restraints order, as the parties negotiate the terms through counsel and submit them to the court for approval.
Provisions of a Monmouth County Civil Restraints Order
While a civil restraints order differs from a restraining order in enforcement, its provisions can mirror much of what a restraining order can contain. A Monmouth County civil restraints order can have several provisions, which can include:
- Orders prohibiting contact
- Orders allowing limited contact through specific means such as text message or email
- Orders allowing limited contact for specific reasons (i.e., issues related to children in common)
- Orders regulating behavior and conduct of the parties (i.e., prohibiting harassment or other abusive conduct)
- Any other orders as agreed upon by the parties
It is important to note that the provisions of a civil restraints order are arrived at by the parties involved and not by the judge presiding over the case. So, it is essential that all terms of a civil restraints order are fully agreed upon and are carefully drafted, so there is no confusion later.
When Can A Civil Restraints Order Be Entered?
Typically, the potential for a civil restraints order does not arise until someone has sought and obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) against someone else. TROs are liberally granted to alleged victims of violence or other prohibited conduct after a petition is filed. The person accused in a TRO petition does not have the chance to defend themselves at a TRO hearing as it is reserved for only the alleged victim and the judge. After a TRO is granted, the defendant is then served with the TRO and is given a date within ten days for a hearing to determine if the TRO should be made final. A civil restraints order can be entered any time before a final restraining order (FRO) is entered by the court. Once a FRO is granted and entered by the court, the option for a civil restraints order will no longer be available.
Advantages a Civil Restraints Order Has Over a Restraining Order
A civil restraints order can have several advantages over a restraining order for both the petitioner and defendant. A civil restraints order serves as an alternative to the typical restraining order route and can benefit the parties in various ways. The alleged victim in these cases is known as the petitioner, while the alleged assailant is known as the defendant. A petitioner must agree to a civil restraints order for one to be a possibility. The advantages of a civil restraints order for petitioners can include:
- Court-ordered protection from the defendant
- The ability to avoid a full final restraining order hearing
- The ability to dictate the terms of any granted order
- The ability to avoid impacting the defendant's job, which financially supports the petitioner and/or any children in common
This is not a complete list of potential advantages a petitioner has in seeking a civil restraints order instead of a final restraining order (FRO). There may be other advantages that a petitioner may realize in agreeing to a civil restraints order.
The defendant also can find several advantages in seeking a civil restraints order as opposed to defending a restraining order petition. The advantages of a civil restraints order for defendants can include:
- The ability to have some say in the terms of the order
- The ability to avoid having to defend a full final restraining order hearing
- The ability to avoid entry into police and domestic violence databases
- The ability to avoid arrest and criminal prosecution for alleged violations
- The ability to potentially avoid impact to employment or professional licensing
As you can see, a defendant potentially has much to gain by entering into a civil restraints agreement and avoiding a final restraining order. Both parties need to be in agreement on all the terms of a civil restraints order, or it will not be entered by the court. The court does not have to accept the agreed-upon terms of a civil restraints agreement but will not specifically dictate what should be included. It is your responsibility to make sure that anything that is agreed upon will be honored and accepted by the court.
What Happens When a Court Grants a Civil Restraints Order?
When a court grants a civil restraints order, then the agreement made between the parties regarding contact and other conduct has been accepted by the judge and entered by the court. This order serves as a contract between the parties to conduct themselves in a specific way or to not have contact with each other. If there are any violations alleged regarding the civil restraints order, then a motion must be filed with the court to enforce its terms.
What Happens if Someone Violates a Civil Restraints Order?
Both restraining orders and civil restraints orders are considered civil and not criminal in nature. However, a violation of a restraining order can lead to a criminal contempt charge. An initial restraining order violation can be punished by up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Civil restraints orders do not have the same type of criminal punishment for violations generally. A judge can sanction someone who violates a civil restraints order in several ways, including a fine. A civil restraints order violation can be the basis for a restraining order or criminal charges, depending on the circumstances.
Where Can I File a Civil Restraints Order in Monmouth County?
The correct court to file a civil restraints order is in the county where the temporary restraining order (TRO) petition was filed. If the petition was filed in Monmouth County, then civil restraints orders must be filed with the Monmouth County Superior Court. A petitioner filing a civil restraints order will cancel any FRO hearings for the parties involved.
The Monmouth County Superior Court is located at:
71 Monument Street
Freehold NJ, 07728
The Court accepts complaints for restraining orders from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from Monday-Friday.
It is highly recommended that you have professional legal help if you are dealing with a restraining order issue or need help negotiating a civil restraints order. Attempting to negotiate a civil restraints order on your own can lead to a TRO violation if one is already in place.
Can I Have a Civil Restraints Order Canceled?
Yes, a civil restraints order can be canceled through the consent of the parties and affirmation by the judge. Remember, civil restraints orders are entered into through agreement by the parties after a period of negotiation. The parties' priorities or positions may change over time, and a civil restraints order allows the parties to have more control over the terms and duration of court protection. If you have questions, then call us at The Lento Law Firm so we can help!
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 Monmouth County Court is looking for when determining whether to grant a civil restraints order agreement. 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.