Restraining Order and Eviction

A restraining order (RO) in New Jersey will prohibit someone from being near the person who sought the restraining order. This can result in major complications for the accused if they live or own a home with their accuser.

The accused could face removal from their home if a judge issues a restraining order against them in the Garden State. If someone is trying to get a restraining order against you, fighting for your rights should be your top priority right now.

Doing so is often easier with help from legal professionals. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team is prepared to help by reviewing your case and tailoring our defense strategy to your specific needs. Get to work on your defense today by contacting us online or calling us at 888.535.3686.

How Do Temporary Restraining Orders Work in New Jersey?

Obtaining a restraining order in New Jersey begins with requesting a temporary restraining order (TRO). The process involves these steps:

  • Completing application paperwork: Someone who wishes to obtain a TRO should visit the Superior Court of the county in which they currently live. In some instances, the appropriate court may be the county in which the alleged abuser lives or the county in which the alleged abuse took place. A courthouse staffer (usually someone with the Family Division Office) can help the applicant complete the paperwork. If the courthouse isn't open when an applicant wishes to request a TRO, they can visit the police station in the area and complete the paperwork there. Applicants should call 911 if they believe an alleged abuser poses an immediate danger to themselves or others.
  • Participating in a TRO hearing: The courthouse staffers or police will set up a hearing before a judge once the applicant completes the paperwork. During this hearing, the judge will listen to the applicant's reason for wanting a TRO. The other party doesn't participate in this hearing.
  • Next steps: Although there are some exceptions, judges usually grant requests for TROs. Upon issuing a TRO, the judge will set a date for the final restraining order (FRO) hearing. The judge will provide law enforcement with a copy of the TRO, who will contact the alleged abuser to let them know about the TRO, the upcoming hearing, and any other relevant information.

The date of the FRO hearing will usually be about ten days from the TRO hearing. In the meantime, the TRO will include certain protections, restrictions, and terms the alleged abuser must abide by. These terms can affect where they may live.

How Does a Temporary Restraining Order Affect Someone's Living Situation in New Jersey?

The specific terms of a TRO can vary on a case-by-case basis. However, a TRO will virtually always prohibit an alleged abuser from being near the person who requested the TRO.

If someone gets a TRO against an alleged abuser with whom they share a home, the police will typically remove the alleged abuser from the home if they refuse to leave voluntarily. They may do so even if the alleged abuser owns the home.

In this scenario, a defendant (the accused) might be able to visit the home while the plaintiff (the accuser) is away to pick up some of their belongings. The police will have to escort them when doing so.

How a Final Restraining Order Can Affect a Living Situation

The FRO hearing gives a judge the chance to hear from both parties. The judge will then decide whether to dismiss the TRO or issue a FRO.

Sometimes, the judge will extend a TRO. If either party requests the judge set a different hearing date, it is up to the judge's discretion to decide whether doing so is appropriate. The terms of the TRO will remain in effect throughout any extension period.

If the judge issues a FRO, it may prohibit the defendant from living in their home if they share it with the plaintiff. Depending on the circumstances, the FRO may also require the defendant to pay financial support to the plaintiff. This may involve paying rent or making mortgage payments.

Preparing for a Final Restraining Order Hearing

A defendant may face eviction if a judge issues a FRO prohibiting them from living with the plaintiff. Thus, it's very important for a defendant to thoroughly prepare for their FRO hearing.

Ways to do so include:

  • Reviewing the TRO: Abiding by the TRO's terms is essential. Upon learning of a TRO, the accused should carefully review its terms so they understand what they can and can't do. They should not discuss the TRO with anyone except parties who may be directly involved in the upcoming FRO hearing, such as witnesses or an attorney.
  • Gathering evidence and contacting witnesses: The FRO hearing can actually be a productive experience for a defendant. It allows them to present their side of the story. A defendant may be more persuasive if they can provide a judge with witnesses and evidence to strengthen their case. Evidence they may present could include text messages or other forms of correspondence with their accuser. In addition, witnesses may be able to refute the accusations against them. The accused should start gathering evidence and contacting witnesses early, as they will need to let the court know about any witnesses or evidence they wish to present. The court will have to approve of their witnesses and evidence ahead of time.
  • Setting aside the entire day: A FRO hearing shouldn't take a full day. However, it's important for a defendant to be as calm and focused as possible during a hearing. They'll be more likely to remain focused if they clear their schedule. A defendant should also dress professionally for court. Doing so is necessary even when a FRO hearing takes place over Zoom, which may sometimes happen in the digital age.
  • Finding a new living situation and making long-term plans: A defendant may need to find somewhere else to live temporarily while a TRO is in effect. They must also consider the possibility that a judge will issue a FRO. Although the goal is to avoid this, there's no guarantee a judge will decide in the accused's favor. Thus, a defendant may need to start making long-term plans if a potential FRO could significantly change their living situation.

The law doesn't require defendants or plaintiffs to hire attorneys when participating in FRO hearings. However, hiring a lawyer is both allowed and advisable.

The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team can help you prepare if you have an upcoming FRO hearing. Our assistance may play a critical role in helping you guard against some of the “collateral consequences” of a FRO.

Eviction and Other Collateral Consequences of a FRO in New Jersey

The direct consequences of a FRO are the terms a defendant must abide by. However, a FRO can also result in collateral consequences. These are consequences that indirectly result from a FRO's requirements and restrictions.

Eviction may be a collateral consequence of a restraining order if the accused shares a home with their accuser. The police may have to remove the defendant from their home if they refuse to leave.

Other collateral consequences a FRO may lead to include:

  • Job status consequences: The accused might face loss of a job or suspension if a judge issues a FRO against them. Sometimes, licensing boards revoke or suspend the licenses of individuals who have restraining orders against them. Some occupations also require employees to notify their employers when they must abide by the terms of a restraining order. Or, if the accused works with their accuser, a restraining order may require them to find a new job, as they will no longer be able to work with the plaintiff.
  • Child custody and visitation consequences: Someone will usually get emergency custody of any children they share with the defendant when they successfully obtain a TRO. A FRO may have more long-term implications for custody arrangements. Be aware restraining orders take precedence over existing custody agreements. If a defendant is currently engaged in a custody battle with the plaintiff, a family law judge may account for the defendant's restraining order when making decisions about custody.
  • Weapon ownership consequences: A FRO will often prohibit a defendant from purchasing firearms. They may also have to forfeit any firearms they currently own to law enforcement. The police will also require them to forfeit any other dangerous weapons the defendant may currently own.

A FRO can also result in emotional and psychological challenges. Consider the following potential scenarios:

  • A FRO may prevent someone from seeing their children. As such, complying with its terms may cause significant stress and emotional difficulties.
  • A restraining order can naturally lead to feelings of embarrassment or guilt. Someone might experience these feelings as a result of a restraining order even if they know they haven't done anything wrong.
  • It may be impossible to fully comply with the terms of a restraining order without allowing other people to learn of the restraining order's existence. Thus, the accused might experience anger with their accuser as they struggle with the way a restraining order affects their social life and other relationships.

It's not inevitable that a defendant will face these consequences. Although no ethical attorney can guarantee that a judge will make a particular decision, the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team's knowledgeable restraining order defense lawyers can help you mount a strong defense during a hearing. We can also help if you decide to appeal a judge's decision.

Preventing Eviction Because of a NJ Restraining Order: Appealing a FRO

Acting fast is critical when a defendant wishes to appeal a FRO in New Jersey. They have 45 days from the date the judge issues the FRO to do so.

A defendant will have to allege that certain errors were made during a hearing, and the court should reverse the FRO accordingly. The types of errors a defendant might cite include:

  • Incorrect interpretation or application of the law: A defendant might get their FRO reversed if they can show the judge imposed the FRO based on an incorrect interpretation or application of the relevant case law or statute.
  • Misinterpretation of the facts: It's essential for a judge to make a decision based on a thorough understanding of the facts when choosing whether to impose an FRO. A defendant might successfully allege that a judge issued an FRO because they misunderstood the facts of the case or didn't base their decision on the full information.
  • Misapplication of the rule of evidence: A judge might not have allowed the defendant to present evidence that could have bolstered their case. The defendant might have grounds for an appeal if the judge violated the rules of evidence by not allowing a defendant to present their evidence. Or, the judge might have made a decision based on evidence they should not have allowed the plaintiff to present.
  • The judge failed to describe their reason for issuing an FRO: A judge must provide a thorough explanation, citing evidence when explaining why they've decided to issue an FRO. A defendant may appeal a judge's decision if they didn't provide a sufficient explanation.

These are the most common grounds for appeal. However, they aren't the only options you might consider if a judge has issued a FRO against you.

This highlights one of the many reasons it's wise to enlist an attorney's help when a FRO threatens to limit your rights. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team can review your case and explain whether you have grounds for an appeal. If you do, we can also help you identify the best strategy. We may choose from one of the above options, or we may find other grounds for appeal based on your case's unique details.

Contact a New Jersey Restraining Order Defense Law Firm

A restraining order in New Jersey can have a significant impact on your living situation, career, and much more. You need a proper defense if someone is seeking a restraining order against you.

That's exactly what we at the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team are prepared to offer. Learn more about what we can do for you by calling us today at 888.535.3686 or completing our online contact form.

​​​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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