Few things are more humiliating than to be served with a restraining order on the claim of domestic violence, especially when it bars you from contact with someone you love or blocks you from access to your children. If you have received a temporary restraining order (TRO) in Brick Township, NJ, you may have only days to prepare your defense and keep the order from becoming finalized in Ocean County Superior Court. Once it becomes a final restraining order (FRO), you could be barred indefinitely from contact with the individual. Depending on the circumstances, it can also affect where you work, places you can go, where you live, etc. It can even strip you of your custody/visitation rights.
With so much at stake, you don't want to entrust your defense to just any lawyer but rather someone who has specific experience with restraining orders in New Jersey courts. The Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm has ample experience handling restraining order cases throughout New Jersey, including cases in Brick Township. To schedule a consultation, please contact our offices at 888-535-3686 or complete our online form.
Who Can Obtain a Restraining Order Against Me in Brick Township, New Jersey?
In New Jersey, restraining orders are designed to shield individuals from an alleged abuser with whom they have or had a domestic relationship. There must also be a viable allegation of domestic violence and/or sexual assault. According to NJ law, any of the following individuals might potentially file a restraining order against you:
- A person to whom you are (or were) married;
- An individual you are seeing or have dated previously;
- A person with whom you share a residence (or used to share a residence); or
- Someone with whom you have a child in common.
How Restraining Orders are Obtained in Brick Township
New Jersey has a standard procedure for how an abuse victim may obtain a restraining order.
Obtaining a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
In Brick Township, the alleged victim (aka, the plaintiff) will first request a temporary restraining order (TRO) against you from the Family Division Office at Ocean County Superior Court in Toms River. There will be an ex parte hearing with the judge (meaning a hearing involving only one party, i.e., the plaintiff) to decide whether to issue the TRO. If granted, the TRO takes effect immediately, and a hearing is arranged within ten days to decide on the issuance of a final restraining order (FRO).
Serving You With the TRO
Once the TRO is issued, law enforcement will serve you directly with the order. The TRO also provides details about the final hearing's time and location. If you have firearms, the police may temporarily seize them. If you share a residence with the complainant, you may be instructed to leave during the TRO, regardless of lease or rent obligations. The TRO can also grant temporary custody to your co-parent and require financial support from you.
Final Restraining Order (FRO) Hearing
If you're served with a TRO in Brick Township, your hearing will be held at:
Ocean County Superior Court
118 Washington Street
Toms River, New Jersey 08754
The FRO hearing will be overseen by a judge overseeing cases from the Family Division. It's important to attend this hearing (preferably with an attorney), as the judge will likely summarily decide in favor of the plaintiff if you don't. Both parties can make statements, present evidence, and cross-examine witnesses. This hearing is more comprehensive than the TRO hearing, with the plaintiff having the burden of proving that you pose a continuing threat to their safety.
Before the judge issues a FRO for domestic violence, the following conditions must be verified:
- You and the plaintiff have (or had) a qualifying domestic relationship.
- You perpetrated an act of domestic violence against the plaintiff (e.g., assault, harassment, threats, false imprisonment).
- The restraining order is necessary to prevent further violence.
If the judge issues a FRO, it will likely be more detailed than the TRO. It may include stipulations such as:
- Prohibition from harassing or contacting the complainant
- Awarding temporary custody and financial support for children
- Allocating financial responsibilities for rent, mortgage, insurance, or other monetary obligations
- Prohibiting you from owning, buying, or possessing firearms
- Mandating you to undergo therapy, counseling, or anger management courses.
If a FRO is granted, the police will take your fingerprints and photograph for the state domestic violence database, and you will be liable to pay a $500 fine. Note that in New Jersey, a final restraining order can last indefinitely (potentially lifelong). The only way an FRO is lifted is if the Ocean County Superior Court later revokes the FRO for valid reasons, usually at the request of the complainant.
Consequences of Disregarding a Restraining Order
A restraining order is a civil order, not a criminal charge, and it can remain in effect whether or not you're ever charged with a crime. However, in New Jersey, any violation of a restraining order is a criminal offense. You could be found guilty of criminal contempt with penalties of a fine and possible jail time. (A subsequent violation comes with a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail.) Furthermore, any violation could adversely affect a judge's decision to revoke the FRO at a later date.
Legal Defense Against Restraining Orders in Brick Township, NJ
Once you are served with an initial TRO, the primary objective should be to contest the order at the final hearing. If the judge issues a final restraining order, that order remains in force indefinitely and is typically only rescinded at the plaintiff's request. The FRO can restrict where you live and where you work, and it may also have a negative effect on your long-term custody rights with your children. Only by convincing the judge to let the TRO expire can you hope to avoid these repercussions.
The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team has a proven track record of effectively assisting defendants facing unfair restraining orders in Brick Township, NJ, and throughout the state. If you have been served with a restraining order, take action now to protect your rights. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or complete our online form.