A restraining order is a civil order that mandates one individual modify his or her behavior in relation to another. Often this order prohibits a person from interacting with, contacting, or coming within a certain distance of, another person.
A restraining order can seriously impact your life: you may lose the right to bear arms, you may be prohibited from seeing your children. If you have a temporary restraining order out against you, having an experienced lawyer on your side is non-negotiable. If you're facing a restraining order in Paterson or anywhere in the Passaic County area, contact the Lento Law Firm today.
Passaic County Restraining Orders
The following types of restraining orders can be put into place in Passaic County.
Domestic Violence Restraining Order
A domestic violence restraining order is a civil order that applies to those who are current or former members of a household or family. This includes current or former intimate partners, current or former spouses, those who are dating, household members, or those who have a child in common.
Sexual Assault Restraining Order
A New Jersey court can also issue a restraining order under the New Jersey Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act (SASPA). A court can issue a restraining order under SASPA if the judge finds that:
- It's necessary to protect the safety and well-being of the victim.
- The plaintiff was a victim of non-consensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, lewdness, or an attempt to do so.
The court will typically hold a FRO hearing under SASPA within ten days of issuing a TRO. The restraining order will prevent the person accused from contacting the person who made the allegation.
Temporary vs. Final Restraining Orders
A temporary restraining order is issued by a judge, often in emergencies. They apply during the interim period, which typically is no more than 10 days, at which time a hearing is conducted to evaluate the allegations. The subject of the allegations will be served notice of a temporary restraining order, which will contain provisions (conditions). A temporary restraining order can be brought against you even if you are not present. One consequence of a temporary restraining order may be removal from your home.
Passaic County Restraining Order Hearings
Restraining orders are filed through the Passaic County municipal or Family courts. Any restraining order involving a mandatory arrest will involve the Domestic Violence Unit of the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office.
The Passaic County Superior Court is located at:
Restraining orders may be issued regardless of whether there are criminal charges filed. During a restraining order hearing, the parties may present evidence, and witness testimony may be heard. The petitioner must prove their allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. When proven, the court may issue a final (permanent) restraining order.
A judge will only issue the FRO if the plaintiff shows by a preponderance of the evidence that:
- You both have a qualifying domestic relationship,
- You committed an act of domestic violence, and
- There is an urgent need for restraint to prevent further acts of violence.
The courts may use their discretion when creating the conditions within a restraining order. They typically prohibit the defendant from contacting or communicating with the petitioner.
Provisions of a Passaic County Restraining Order
Judges in Passaic County have a great deal of latitude in determining the provisions of both sexual assault restraining orders and FROs related to domestic violence. Aside from preventing a defendant from contacting or harassing a plaintiff, a FRO can also contain several other measures, including:
- Providing for temporary custody of children,
- Providing for child or spousal support, rent, or other financial obligations,
- Prohibiting the defendant from contacting the plaintiff, the plaintiff's family, or the plaintiff's place of work,
- Prohibiting the defendant from owning or possessing firearms,
- Counseling or therapy,
- Protecting a plaintiff from future violence, and
- Providing for restitution.
For SASPA restraining orders, the order can prevent:
- Future acts of sexual violence against the plaintiff,
- The defendant from stalking or harassing the plaintiff, whether online or in person,
- The defendant from contacting the plaintiff,
- The defendant from entering places where the plaintiff frequents, like a school or workplace.
A domestic violence restraining order is permanent in New Jersey; it does not expire. The FRO will remain in place until one of the parties asks the court to modify or remove the order. After a judge issues the FRO, you have 45 days to appeal the decision. However, your appeal must have grounds to overturn the decision, meaning the judge made a mistake of fact or law when issuing the final restraining order.
Long-term Impact of a Restraining Order
Aside from the more immediate restrictions on your life and liberty, a restraining order can impact your life-long term. While a restraining order won't appear in a criminal background check, the New Jersey domestic violence database is public and searchable. If your employer or a future employer performs a more substantive background search, your restraining order may turn up.
Moreover, if you must carry a gun or hold a security clearance for your job, a restraining order can interfere with your career, particularly if you are in the military or law enforcement. If you hold a security clearance, your security clearance questionnaire will ask about domestic violence and restraining orders. It is a federal crime to lie on these forms.
Restraining orders can also prohibit members of the military and those serving in law enforcement from carrying or owning a firearm. The Federal Gun Control Act does have an exception for military service members who must carry a weapon. However, if your restraining order specifically states that you can't possess a firearm, you cannot carry a weapon, and the Federal Gun Control Act loophole won't apply. Restraining orders in New Jersey almost always expressly prohibit the defendant from possessing a firearm.
Passaic County Restraining Order Representation
Have you been served with a temporary restraining order in Passaic County? It is important to promptly seek assistance from an experienced advocate. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm will represent you in a restraining order hearing and defend any related criminal charges. Contact the office at (888) 535-3686 for a case evaluation.