Restraining Order Violations in New Jersey

New Jersey has continued to strengthen laws that seek to protect victims of abuse, harassment, and violence. Local judges may issue orders of protection, or restraining orders, that prohibit alleged perpetrators from being in close proximity to their victims or otherwise making contact. Restraining orders are commonly associated with incidents of domestic violence, which were defined by the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) of 1991.

Domestic Violence in New Jersey

There are many crimes considered to be acts of domestic violence. These include assault, sexual assault, stalking, and more. Alleged victims may request that the court implement an order of protection for domestic violence against the following:

  • A spouse, former spouse, or current or former member of their household
  • An individual that they have a current or past dating or romantic relationship with
  • An individual who they have had a child with

A restraining order is appropriate when it can be determined that the actions of the alleged offender threaten the victim's personal safety or well-being. The initial order of protection is called a temporary restraining order (TRO). These apply to the interim period until a formal protection hearing can be held. Protection hearings are generally held within a period of 10 days.

Protection Orders for Sexual Assault & Temporary Extreme Risk

In 2016 New Jersey, lawmakers enacted the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act (SASPA). This law specified that victims may petition for a restraining order without having filed criminal charges or contact with law enforcement. The Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018 is another measure used that prohibits the alleged perpetrator from possessing a firearm.

Conditions of a Restraining Order

The terms of a restraining order are applicable statewide and may include: 

  • The perpetrator may not visit locations such as the victim's home, work, school, etc.
  • Contact is prohibited via telephone, written correspondence, or through third-parties
  • In cases of domestic violence, the alleged perpetrator may access the home to retrieve their belongings and then vacate the premises
  • In cases of domestic violence, the court may include a child custody order and order payment of medical expenses if they were a result of the actions of the alleged perpetrator

Violating an Order of Protection

Violating a protective order is a crime known as contempt. This involves willingly or knowingly disobeying a court order or otherwise obstructing, impeding or hindering an order. Contempt must be ultimately proven beyond a reasonable doubt; however, when probable cause exists, officers of law enforcement may arrest and take a respondent into custody.

New Jersey Criminal Offense Levels

Offense

1st Degree

2nd Degree

3rd Degree

4th Degree

Disorderly

Petty Disorderly

Maximum Incarceration

20 years

10 years

5 years

18 months

6 months

30 days

Maximum Fine

$200,000

$150,000

$35,000

$10,000

$1,000

$500

Potential Penalties for Violating a Protection Order

Depending on the circumstances of the protection order, a violation may be an offense of the third or fourth degree or a disorderly person offense. Examples of when contempt is upgraded to a third-degree offense are when protection orders involved the crime of stalking, or if a condition of an extreme risk protective order is violated by obtaining a weapon.

When to Retain an Attorney

Those who are alleged to have violated a court order of protection should promptly seek legal counsel. The violation is a subsequent (additional) charge relative to any charge(s) stemming from the protection order. The court is likely to seek to impose harsh penalties due to your pattern of criminal behavior.

Defense Attorney for Violations of Restraining Orders

Attorney Joseph D. Lento will aggressively defend charges of contempt for violating orders such as those of protection from abuse in the New Jersey courts. Having experienced defense counsel is critical. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for a consultation.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

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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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