Protecting Your Physician’s Assistant Medical License after a New Jersey Restraining order

Domestic violence is a serious matter with heartbreaking repercussions for New Jersey families. As a result, New Jersey lawmakers passed the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 to help protect victims of domestic violence. Under the statute, victims of domestic violence can apply for a restraining order to prevent an abuser from approaching or contacting them. See N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:25-17 - 25-35 (1991). Courts can issue temporary (TRO) and final restraining orders (FRO). However, if you have a restraining order entered against you or are facing domestic violence charges in the criminal justice system, these accusations can prevent you from holding many professional licenses in New Jersey. That's why you should contact an experienced New Jersey restraining order and criminal defense attorney as soon as you receive notice of a restraining order application pending against you.

Temporary Restraining Orders and How They Work

To begin the restraining order process, an applicant must apply for a temporary restraining order (TRO) before a New Jersey judge. The applicant will have an ex parte hearing with the judge, and you will not have the right to attend. If the judge decides to issue a TRO against you, it will prevent you from contacting or approaching the applicant while the order is in place. However, a TRO will typically only remain in force until the judge holds a final hearing, about ten business days.

Final Restraining Orders and How They Work

After issuing the TRO, a judge will set a hearing date for a final hearing. You will receive notice of this hearing and have the right to attend with an attorney. At the hearing, you and your attorney will have the right to introduce your evidence and witnesses and cross-examine the applicant's witnesses.

The judge may issue a final restraining order (FRO) if they find that:

  • There is a qualifying domestic relationship. Qualifying relationships include current and former spouses, current and former dating or intimate couples, couples with a child together, or people living in the same household. You and the applicant have a qualifying domestic relationship.
  • An act of domestic violence occurred. Domestic violence goes beyond assault in New Jersey and can include other crimes such as unlawful restraint, stalking, sexual assault, and harassment.
  • The restraining order is needed urgently to prevent further acts of domestic violence.

However, before issuing the FRO, the judge must also consider factors listed in 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; and
  • 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, the police will take your photo and fingerprints to include in the New Jersey domestic violence registry.

Becoming a Physician's Assistant in New Jersey

Becoming a physician's assistant in New Jersey requires years of hard study. Like doctors, we hold physician's assistants to high standards as community members entrusted with our health and well-being. In addition to a four-year college degree, you also need a master's degree. According to the American Academy of Physicians Assistants, the average time to complete a physician's assistant master's program is 27 months, although programs can range from two to four years.

The State Board of Medical Examiners oversees the licensing of physician's assistants under the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. To apply for a license, you'll need to complete an application and a Certification and Authorization Form for a Criminal History Background Check and pay the required fee. You will need to provide evidence that you:

  • Are at least 18
  • Are of “good moral character, evidence of which shall require the applicant for licensure to respond to such inquiry as the Board deems appropriate regarding past and present fitness to practice”
  • Completed an accredited program approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.
  • Passed the physician's assistant exam administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants

After so many years of study and practice, it can be devastating to have a restraining order jeopardize your license.

How a Restraining Order Can Affect Your Physician's Assistant License

Unfortunately, an allegation of domestic violence in a criminal or civil proceeding, like a restraining order application, may jeopardize your career as a physician's assistant. The State Board of Medical Examiners can refuse to issue or may suspend or revoke any license issued by the Board for any of the reasons outlined in N.J.S.A. 45:1-21, which includes:

  • Engaging “in the use or employment of dishonesty, fraud, deception, misrepresentation, false promise or false pretense”
  • Engaging in gross negligence, gross malpractice, or gross incompetence which damaged or endangered the life, health, welfare, safety, or property of any person
  • Engaging in repeated acts of negligence, malpractice, or incompetence
  • Engaging in professional or occupational misconduct as may be determined by the Board
  • Being “convicted of, or engaged in acts constituting, any crime or offense involving moral turpitude or relating adversely to the activity regulated by the Board. For the purpose of this subsection a judgment of conviction or a plea of guilty, non vult, nolo contendere or any other such disposition of alleged criminal activity shall be deemed a conviction”
  • Being “incapable, for medical or any other good cause, of discharging the functions of a licensee in a manner consistent with the public's health, safety and welfare”

N.J.S.A. § 45:1-21 (2022).

In New Jersey, a restraining order is most likely to adversely impact the professional licenses of medical and mental health professionals. As a physician's assistant, you hold a special position of trust in the community, and the medical Board holds you to a higher standard. While a restraining order is a civil rather than criminal order in New Jersey, it's best to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine whether a restraining order based on allegations of domestic violence may affect your license.

Hire an Experienced New Jersey Restraining Order Attorney

If you're facing a final restraining order against you, the repercussions to your career as a physician's assistant can be serious. You need a skilled New Jersey restraining order attorney with experience handling domestic violence matters. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the team at the Lento Law Firm can help. Contact them at (888) 535-3686 for a consultation.

​​​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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