We all know that family violence is a serious problem in the U.S. and the state of New Jersey is no exception. But with the passage of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991, our legislators implemented some practical solutions to help. The Prevention of Domestic Violence law works to protect victims of domestic violence from potential abusers through a restraining order issued by a New Jersey court. See N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:25-17 - 25-35 (1991). In New Jersey, we have two types of domestic violence restraining orders, including temporary (TRO) and final restraining orders (FRO). But if a court issues a restraining order against you or convicts you of a domestic violence criminal charge, it can affect any professional licenses you may hold in New Jersey. If you receive a summons or notice of a final restraining order hearing against you, you need to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Temporary Restraining Orders
Under New Jersey law, a court may enter a temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing you from contacting or approaching the applicant. Typically, this order only remains in place until the court holds a final hearing, in about ten business days. However, you will not receive notice of the hearing for the temporary order, and you don't have the right to attend. The court may also order you removed from your home if you share it with the applicant and may order the police to confiscate any weapons you have.
Final Restraining Orders
Final restraining orders are a permanent version of a TRO issued by the court after notice to all the parties and a formal hearing. You can and should attend the FRO hearing with an attorney. You'll have the right to present evidence and witnesses and cross-examine the applicant and the applicant's witnesses.
Under New Jersey law, the judge will only issue an FRO if:
- The applicant has a qualifying domestic relationship with you, which includes the following:
- A current or former marriage
- A current or former intimate relationship
- Sharing a child
- Living in the same household
- The judge finds that you committed an act of domestic violence. This can include a separate criminal charge or acts the applicant alleges in her complaint. Acts of domestic violence in New Jersey include:
- Sexual assault
- Criminal restraint
- Terroristic threats
- Violating a domestic violence restraining order
- The judge finds that the restraining order is needed urgently to prevent further acts of domestic violence. In determining whether to issue the order, the judge will look to the requirements of New Jersey law, including:
- The previous history of domestic violence between the plaintiff and defendant, including threats, harassment, and physical abuse
- The existence of immediate danger to person or property
- The financial circumstances of the plaintiff and defendant
- The best interests of the victim and any child
- In determining custody and parenting time, the protection of the victim's safety
- The existence of a verifiable order of protection from another jurisdiction
N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-29a (2013). If a judge issues an FRO against you, be included in the New Jersey domestic violence registry.
Becoming an Early Childhood Educator in New Jersey
To become a preschool teacher in New Jersey, you must go through years of study and a certification program. You'll need a bachelor's degree with a major in science or liberal arts, and you must complete a state-approved teacher preparation program or a state-approved post-graduate program with at least 13 semester-hour credits. New Jersey regulations also require that you achieve a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative GPA, where a 4.0 represents an A grade in your degree program,
A certificate of eligibility in early childhood education in New Jersey entitles you to:
- Teach preschool through grade three in public schools and teach public school students in approved settings providing early childhood education
- Teach language arts literacy, mathematics, science, computer and information literacy, and social studies full-time, integrating educational technology where appropriate in grades preschool through three
- Teach world languages full-time in grades preschool through three under New Jersey law
- Teach all remaining subjects in grades preschool through three no more than one-half of the daily instructional assignment in all public schools
The state also requires that you pass the following:
- A Basic Skills Assessment
- The Praxis II test
- Complete a hygiene and physiology requirement through classes or basic military training
As part of the hiring process in New Jersey schools, the Office of Student Protection Unit will conduct background checks through the FBI and the New Jersey State Police. If you have a restraining order against you or a criminal conviction for domestic violence, it may prevent you from teaching in early childhood in New Jersey.
How Can a Restraining Order Affect Your Teaching License?
Unfortunately, a domestic violence restraining order or a criminal conviction for domestic violence can result in the loss of many professional licenses, including a teacher or early childhood education certification. The Office of Student Protection Unit will conduct background checks for all school hires in both public and private schools in New Jersey. When you renew a license, you will also go through this process. Restraining orders are not on the list of disqualifying convictions for teachers in New Jersey. Moreover, a restraining order is a civil rather than a criminal court order. However, many domestic violence crimes are on the list of convictions that can prevent you from holding a teacher's license in New Jersey. That's why it's a good idea to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney with knowledge of restraining order cases and how they can affect your professional career.
Hire an Experienced New Jersey Restraining Order Attorney
If you have a restraining order pending against you, the consequences to your career in early childhood education can be serious. You need to ensure that you have an attorney by your side who understands how a restraining order or a domestic violence conviction can affect your professional career. Skilled New Jersey criminal defense attorney, Joseph D. Lento, can help. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 for your consultation.