New Jersey Restraining Orders and Professional License Holders

Receiving a restraining order in New Jersey is a serious matter, as it can significantly disrupt your life. It might restrict you from contacting your spouse, domestic partner, or children and require you to alter your daily activities to steer clear of locations where the protected person may be present. Moreover, any breach of the restraining order can lead to criminal charges, which could exacerbate any domestic violence allegations against you.

For professionals holding licenses (such as doctors, nurses, CPAs, counselors, pharmacists, etc.), it's crucial to understand that a restraining order might endanger your professional standing. Taking steps early to prevent a restraining order from becoming part of your public record can greatly enhance your chances of preserving your professional license and career.

The Lento Law Firm helps individuals throughout New Jersey defend themselves against restraining orders. We understand what a stressful time it is for you, and we want to assist you as much as possible with your restraining order case. Call our firm at 888-535-3686 or fill out our contact form so we can schedule an initial consultation.

Restraining Orders in New Jersey

A restraining order is issued by a civil court and limits the contact between the person who requests the order (plaintiff) and the individual it targets (defendant). These orders are primarily for protecting individuals involved in alleged domestic violence or sexual assault situations. In New Jersey, there are three distinct kinds of restraining orders:

  • Temporary Restraining Order (TRO): Immediate prohibition on contact that remains in effect until a court hearing
  • Final Restraining Order (FRO): Long-term order that remains in effect indefinitely unless revoked by another court order
  • Sexual Assault Restraining Order: Specifically intended to protect individuals from sexual assault or harassment

Being subject to a restraining order in New Jersey means you are legally barred from contacting the plaintiff during the duration of the order. The scope of restraining orders can vary widely. Some examples of restrictions in restraining orders are granting temporary custody of children to the other parent or guardian, mandating you to vacate your residence while still fulfilling financial obligations like rent, forbidding visits to the plaintiff's workplace or children's schools, covering medical or insurance costs, and revoking your right to own firearms.

TROs and FROs aim to prevent contact in close or domestic relationships. They apply to:

  • Spouses, ex-spouses, or intimate partners
  • Current or former dating partners
  • Individuals sharing a child or expecting one together
  • Members of the same household, such as roommates or live-in family members

Sexual assault restraining orders cater to situations outside the family/domestic sphere, offering protection against individuals who have committed or threatened to commit sexual assault or engage in unwanted sexual contact, regardless of a domestic or familial relationship. For incidents of sexual abuse within domestic contexts, a standard restraining order applies.

How a Restraining Order Can Affect Your Professional License

In New Jersey, a restraining order could potentially impact your professional licensing status, particularly if you're in fields such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary practice, or other professions requiring state board certification. These boards enforce specific standards of conduct and professionalism to uphold public confidence. Although a restraining order is not a criminal conviction, it could be perceived as a breach of public trust, indicating that someone has sought court protection against you.

A restraining order might not directly lead to the revocation of your license, but it could prompt an investigation by the licensing board. This investigation could result in disciplinary measures, including the suspension or revocation of your license.

Situations where a restraining order might endanger your professional license include:

  • The restraining order is recorded as a judgment on your public record, which the state licensing board can see.
  • A violation of the restraining order leads to a criminal conviction that appears on your criminal record, which is then reported to the board.
  • The licensing board requires you to report any restraining orders or criminal convictions and you fail to comply.
  • A coworker, patient, or another individual becomes aware of the restraining order and lodges a complaint with the licensing board.

Dealing with a restraining order and your licensing board at the same time can be overwhelming. At the Lento Law Firm, we understand the pressure you're under as a licensed professional in New Jersey. We can help you fight the restraining order so it doesn't pose a threat to the career you worked so hard to build.

Does a Restraining Order Show Up on a Background Check?

Standard criminal background checks do not typically include information about restraining orders since a restraining order is a civil offense rather than a criminal one. A criminal background check will only reveal any past arrests, warrants, convictions, and periods of incarceration, as well as whether the person is a registered sex offender. A general background check, on the other hand, can provide details on your living history, education, military service, credit history, driving record, and criminal record.

However, a thorough examination of an individual's background may uncover a restraining order if it is listed in the Domestic Violence Central Registry. In addition, if an individual is arrested for violating a restraining order, this will be included in their criminal background check, as violating a restraining order is a criminal offense.

Will a Licensing Board Take Issue With a Restraining Order?

Your professional state licensing board might view your restraining order as a breach of public trust and initiate disciplinary procedures according to their guidelines. Although each board has its unique set of regulations, the disciplinary process generally happens in the following manner:

  • Investigation: The board will examine the specifics of the restraining to determine if it warrants additional scrutiny. They might also ask you to submit a written response. There might be a more thorough inquiry that involves requesting documents, interviewing witnesses, and so on.
  • Consent decree: Should the board's investigation uncover further evidence of misconduct or raise concerns related to the restraining order, the board might propose bypassing a formal hearing in favor of a consent decree. This legal document typically requires you to acknowledge the misconduct and agree to the board's suggested disciplinary measures voluntarily.
  • Formal hearing: If the board doesn't propose a consent decree, or you choose not to accept one, you could be called to a formal hearing before the board or an Administrative Law Judge to address the allegations and mount your defense. You are entitled to legal representation during this process.
  • Decision by the board: Following these proceedings, the board will decide whether to apply any sanctions or penalties against you, which could range from a formal reprimand to the suspension or revocation of your license.

Can You Lose a Professional License Automatically for a Restraining Order?

A restraining order doesn't automatically lead to losing your license. It depends on your circumstances and how the board handles your case. Based on the details of your situation, the board may choose to apply less severe sanctions, such as fines, limitations on professional activities, requirements for ongoing education, probation, or official warnings.

If the restraining order is linked to problems like substance abuse, the board might permit you to undergo a specific rehabilitation program, enabling you to retain your license. On the other hand, if the board perceives you as uncooperative or not transparent—such as not reporting the restraining order when required—they might lean towards revoking your license.

Does a TRO Show Up on Public Records?

Restraining orders in New Jersey are public records and can be found with a detailed search. A TRO is unlikely to appear in standard background checks. However, in New Jersey, any filed petition and issued TRO against you are publicly available in civil court records, even if the restraining order is later dismissed or withdrawn. Typically, this visibility may not pose an issue with your licensing board. However, if the board is already conducting an investigation into your license and chooses to review court records, the TRO documentation will be found.

Another important factor to consider is the requirement by your professional licensing board for you to report a TRO once you are notified. If such a requirement exists, you are obligated to inform the board about the TRO. Failure to report can lead to additional disciplinary actions.

Can the Licensing Board Still Take Disciplinary Action If You're Exonerated?

Yes, the licensing board could still take disciplinary action. The criteria for state licensing boards are distinct from those required of a plaintiff in a civil case or a prosecutor in a criminal case. The primary role of these boards is to protect the public by ensuring licenses are granted only to those deemed adequately qualified and trustworthy. Consequently, even if a restraining order is later withdrawn or dismissed, its mere existence in the first place might raise questions about your professional integrity and imply a failure to uphold the public's trust.

While the presence of a PFA does not automatically lead to the revocation of your license, it can prompt an investigation. As soon as you learn about the TRO, you should reach out to the Lento Law Firm. We can help you fight the TRO against you and advise you on how to proceed with your licensing board.

NJ Licensing Boards and Rules on Restraining Orders

Each state licensing board has its own rules concerning ethical behavior and discipline. Below are some of the New Jersey licensing boards that might consider a restraining order problematic and their rules for dealing with it.

  • Physicians: The New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners probably won't start an investigation simply because you have a restraining order against you. If it's brought to their attention, however, they might launch an investigation.
  • Nurses and Nurse Practitioners: In New Jersey, nurses and certified nurse practitioners must report any restraining orders they receive to the board. They also have to submit a criminal background check for license application and renewal. If you haven't been convicted of a crime in relation to your restraining order, it won't show up in a criminal background check.
  • Pharmacists: The New Jersey State Board of Pharmacy requires license holders to report crimes of "moral turpitude" or "drug-related" offenses. If your restraining order falls into either of these categories, you'll have to report it to the board.
  • Early Childhood Educators: All new teachers and early childhood educators must pass a background check from the Office of Student Protection Unit. A restraining order isn't enough to disqualify you from a license, but a domestic violence crime can.
  • Substance Abuse & Behavior Disorder Professionals: The New Jersey State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy issues licenses for Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors and requires all license holders to have good moral character. In addition, things like dishonesty or professional misconduct can lead to license revocation. Counselors and mental health professionals are held to high standards when it comes to restraining orders and have a higher risk of losing their licenses than most other licensed professions.

The Lento Law Firm Can Help You Defend Against a Restraining Order

Getting served with a restraining order in New Jersey can have a serious impact on your life and your family, but it doesn't have to mean the end of your career. By working with the Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm, you can take proactive measures to challenge or lift the restraining order and decrease the chances of triggering an investigation into your professional license.

The Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team has successfully assisted many defendants in New Jersey who have been served with restraining orders. We're the ideal choice for licensed professionals looking to mitigate potential consequences. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or reach out via our contact form, and a member of our team will get back to you.

​​​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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