If you're served with a restraining order in Passaic, NJ, over allegations of domestic violence, it can turn your world upside down. Being on the receiving end of a restraining order can be unsettling, disruptive, and embarrassing. It's natural to feel bewildered and anxious about the ramifications of such an order, much less how to fight it. Not only does a temporary restraining order (TRO) take effect immediately without any ability on your part to contest it, but if the order becomes a final restraining order (FRO), the restrictions it places on you could last a lifetime--blocked from contact with someone you love, and possibly even stripped of your custody rights.
Navigating this challenging situation is best done with the assistance of a seasoned restraining order defense attorney--an advocate who ensures your voice is heard and your rights are safeguarded. The Criminal Defense Team at Lento Law Firm boasts a wealth of experience dealing with restraining order cases across New Jersey, including Passaic. To arrange for a consultation, reach out to our offices at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.
Who Can File a Restraining Order Against Me in Passaic, New Jersey?
In New Jersey, restraining orders are intended to protect individuals from an alleged abuser with whom they are currently or formerly engaged in a domestic relationship. As per NJ law, any of the following individuals could potentially request a restraining order against you:
- An individual you are (or were) married to;
- Someone you are dating or have dated in the past;
- An individual you cohabit with (or used to live with); or
- Someone with whom you share a child.
It's important to remember that a restraining order cannot be imposed on you solely based on the request of your spouse or partner. For a restraining order to be made permanent, the person seeking it must convince the judge that you have perpetrated an act of domestic violence and/or sexual assault against them, or they perceive you as an immediate danger to their safety.
The Restraining Order Procedure in Passaic, New Jersey
The process of obtaining a restraining order is standardized across New Jersey by state legislation. In Passaic, the plaintiff begins by requesting a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Superior Court in Paterson (or from the Passaic Municipal Court for urgent relief during non-business hours or weekends). If approved, the TRO becomes effective immediately, and a hearing is scheduled within ten days to determine the issuance of a final restraining order (FRO). This hearing takes place at:
Passaic County Courthouse
77 Hamilton Street
Paterson, New Jersey 07505
For inquiries about restraining orders, contact Passaic County Superior Court Family Part
973 653 2910, Ext. 24390
Temporary Restraining Orders
When an initial restraining order against you is sought, the judge will conduct an ex parte hearing to decide on issuing a temporary order. An ex parte hearing involves solely the plaintiff, meaning the hearing takes place without your presence or input. Based on the plaintiff's testimony, the judge will issue a TRO if deemed necessary for the plaintiff's safety and well-being. The TRO remains valid until the formal hearing, which is typically scheduled within ten days.
Law enforcement then delivers the order to you, which then becomes effective immediately. The TRO will also notify you of when and where to appear for the final hearing. If you own firearms, the police might confiscate them until the final hearing. If you cohabitate with the plaintiff, you will likely be directed to vacate during the TRO, regardless of lease or rent responsibilities. The TRO can also award temporary custody to your co-parent and mandate financial support from you.
Final Restraining Orders
The final restraining order hearing is overseen by a judge in the Passaic County Superior Court, Family Part. It's highly advisable that you appear at this hearing; otherwise, the judge will rule summarily for the plaintiff. Both the plaintiff and you can make arguments, present evidence, and question witnesses. This hearing is more thorough than the TRO hearing, with the onus on the plaintiff to demonstrate that you pose a threat.
Before the judge issues a FRO for domestic violence, the following facts must be established:
- You and the plaintiff have (or had) a qualified domestic relationship.
- You committed an act of domestic violence (e.g., assault, harassment, threats, false imprisonment) against the plaintiff.
- The restraining order is necessary to ensure no further violence occurs.
The FRO issued by the judge will likely be more extensive than the TRO. It may include provisions 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 fiscal obligations
- Protecting the plaintiff from violence and harassment
- Barring you from owning, purchasing, or possessing firearms
- Requiring you to attend therapy, counseling, or anger management courses.
If a FRO is issued, the police will collect your fingerprints and photograph for the state domestic violence database, and you will be subject to a $500 fine. Remember that in New Jersey, a final restraining order can last indefinitely (possibly lifelong). The only way an FRO is rescinded is if the Passaic County Superior Court subsequently vacates the FRO for valid reasons, typically at the plaintiff's request.
Implications of Breaching a Restraining Order
In New Jersey, violating a restraining order constitutes a criminal offense and amounts to contempt of court. If you are convicted of violating the order, you may face fines and/or imprisonment, with a second violation carrying a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail. A violation could also influence the judge's decision to rescind the FRO in the future.
Help With Restraining Orders in Passaic, NJ
In New Jersey, having a restraining order against you can have enduring and significant impacts on your life. Once a TRO transitions into a (FRO), it remains effective indefinitely and is typically only lifted if requested by the plaintiff at a future time. The existence of a FRO could potentially sway decisions regarding child custody, your ability to occupy shared spaces with the involved party, and even have an impact on your job prospects. The best way to avoid these consequences is by successfully contesting the TRO at the final hearing before the restraining order is finalized.
The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team has a successful history of aiding defendants dealing with unjust restraining orders in Passaic, NJ, and other regions of the state. If you find yourself served a restraining order, take action now to safeguard your rights. Reach out to the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or complete our online form.