Protecting Your Substance Abuse & Behavioral Disorder Counseling License after a New Jersey Restraining Order

Domestic violence in New Jersey is a serious matter, and if you face accusations of domestic violence, it's also something you should take seriously. Under New Jersey's Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991, victims of domestic violence can seek a restraining order preventing an abuser from approaching or contacting the applicant. See N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:25-17 - 25-35 (1991).

Courts in New Jersey may issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a final restraining order (FRO) after a hearing. Unfortunately, if a court enters a restraining order against you, it can prevent you from holding many professional licenses in New Jersey. It can also affect your ongoing ability to hold a substance abuse or behavioral disorder counseling license. If you have a FRO pending against you, you should contact an experienced restraining order attorney immediately.

Temporary Restraining Orders

When applicants seek a restraining order in New Jersey, they will first see a judge in an ex parte hearing. You will not receive notice of this hearing, and you don't have the right to attend. If issued, the temporary restraining order (TRO) will prevent you from contacting or approaching the applicant. However, this temporary order will only remain in place until the court holds a final hearing. Typically, the final hearing will happen in about ten days. In the meantime, the court may order you removed from a home you share with the applicant and order the police to confiscate any weapons you own.

Final Restraining Orders

After issuing a TRO, the court will set a date for a final hearing. You will receive notice of this hearing and have the right to attend with your attorney. At the hearing, the judge will decide whether to issue a final restraining order (FRO) to remain in place permanently.

During the hearing, the judge must determine whether the applicant meets the requirements of New Jersey's restraining order law. The court must find that:

  • The two of you have a qualifying relationship, meaning you live in the same household, are current or former spouses, have or once had a dating relationship, or share a child together
  • An act of domestic violence occurred, which can include assault, harassment, stalking, or another of a long list of domestic violence assaults
  • The restraining order is needed urgently to prevent future domestic violence

The judge will also look at the considerations included in New Jersey's restraining order 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 the judge issues an FRO against you, the police will include your photo, name, and information in the New Jersey domestic violence registry.

Becoming a Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor in New Jersey

In New Jersey, becoming a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) or a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) is a process that requires a great deal of education and training. The State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners' Alcohol and Drug Counselor Committee grants these licenses under the authority of the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Consumer Affairs. Professionals with a CADC must practice under the supervision of an approved LCADC, while those with an LCADC may practice independently.

Both licenses require 270 hours of alcohol and drug education. However, an LCADC must also have a master's or doctorate degree in an addiction or counseling-related field from an accredited college or university, distributed among:

  • Counseling theory and practice
  • The helping relationship
  • Human growth and development
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Group dynamics, processes, counseling, and consulting
  • Assessment of individuals
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Research and evaluation
  • The counseling profession
  • Pharmacology and physiology

The remainder of the CADC and LCADC licensing requirements are similar, including:

  • A supervised internship with two years and 3,000 hours of supervised work experience within five consecutive years of applying
  • Supervised practicum training with 300 hours of supervised practical training in alcohol and drug counseling distributed among 12 core functions
  • Attendance at 30 alcohol and abuse self-help group meetings, with at least five at Alcoholics Anonymous, five at Al-Anon, and five at Narcotics Anonymous meetings
  • Completion of the written and oral exams developed by the IC&RC

After passing both exams, the Committee will schedule a background check.

How a Restraining Order Can Affect Your New Jersey Counseling License

An applicant or license holder must submit evidence of good moral character as part of licensing. This is an ongoing requirement for all license holders. Moreover, applicants can't be engaged in conduct “upon which the Board shall have grounds to refuse to issue, suspend, or revoke a license that it issues pursuant to N.J.S.A. 45:1-21.” Misconduct under § 45:1-21, includes:

  • “The use or employment of dishonesty, fraud, deception, misrepresentation, false promise or false pretense”
  • Gross negligence, gross malpractice, or gross incompetence that hurt or endangered the “health, welfare, safety or property of any person”
  • Negligence, malpractice, or incompetence
  • Professional or occupational misconduct “as may be determined by the board”
  • Conviction of, or engaging in, 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”

Mental health professional licenses are some of the professional licenses most likely to be affected by a New Jersey restraining order. Counselors and medical professionals hold a position of trust in the community and are held to high standards. Because the language in the regulations grants broad powers to the licensing board to suspend or revoke substance abuse counseling licenses, you must talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney well-versed in handling restraining orders and domestic violence matters. You need an attorney who understands what the consequences of a restraining order can be to your personal and professional life.

Hire an Experienced New Jersey Restraining Order Attorney

If you are a licensed New Jersey counselor facing a restraining order against you, the consequences to your professional and personal reputation can be serious and long-lasting. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney well-versed in handling restraining order matters as soon as possible. Skilled New Jersey attorney Joseph D. Lento can help. Contact the Lento Law Firm today 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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