Federal law allows people to seek a restraining order, often called a protection order, from a civil or criminal court. A restraining order is issued for someone's safety after a “complaint, petition, or motion” is filed. They are often issued to prevent potential or further acts of violence, intimidation, stalking, etc. They prevent someone from being near or contacting the petitioner, as well as other possible conditions.
When a petitioner files a complaint requesting an order of protection, the court may issue a temporary restraining order. The respondent is served with the complaint according to local rules notifying them of a hearing that will be held within 10 days.
Grounds for Restraining Orders
In New Jersey, restraining orders may be issued to those who are victims of domestic violence or those who have been subject to attempts or acts of sexual assault. Domestic violence is a broad term that involves offenses such as assault, stalking, or kidnapping that occur between those having some past or current intimate relationship. Examples of sexual assault include non-consensual sexual contact, penetration, and lewdness.
Hearing Procedure (2C:25-29)
During a hearing, the judge may hear testimony and review evidence to determine if an act of domestic violence or type of sexual assault occurred and whether an order of protection is appropriate. The standard for proving the allegations is by the preponderance of the evidence. If this is proven, the judge will impose a final or permanent order with many potential conditions such as:
- Prohibiting the respondent from visiting the petitioner's residence, place of employment, school, etc.
- Prohibiting the respondent from attempting to contact or communicate with the petitioner directly or through intermediaries
- If applicable, conditions may apply regarding minor children such as custody and parenting time
- Imposing financial conditions to compensate the victim for losses or that a party is responsible for paying a mortgage, rent, etc.
- The respondent may be prohibited from owning or possessing a deadly weapon
- The respondent may be required to submit to a psychological evaluation or counseling
Duration of Final Protection Orders
Final restraining orders do not have a specified end date. The order will remain in effect unless a party requests that the judge reevaluate and consider changes or termination
Violations of an Order
Those who violate the provisions of a protection order are subject to criminal charges for contempt. A member of law enforcement may arrest an individual when they have probable cause to believe that a violation has occurred. The defendant is generally charged with a fourth-degree offense, which is punishable by up to 18 months of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. Those who a convicted of a second offense may face a minimum of 30 days in jail.
Criminal Defense Lawyer in New Jersey
Joseph D. Lento is an attorney that provides effective legal representation for clients in cases such as those involving domestic violence, sexual assault, and contempt of court. He closely assesses the allegations and evidence as part of a comprehensive defense strategy. For a case evaluation, contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.