A restraining order is a type of court order which requires an individual to modify his or her behavior. Usually, this will involve prohibiting a person from interacting with, contacting, or coming within a certain distance of another person.
Restraining orders can seriously impact your life. If you have a final restraining order filed against you in New Jersey, you may be prohibited from seeing your children, you could lose the right to bear arms, and more.
If you have a temporary restraining order out against you, having an experienced attorney in your corner can make a critical difference. If you're facing a restraining order in Newark or anywhere in Essex County, contact the Lento Law Firm today.
Essex County Restraining Orders
The following types of restraining orders can be put into place in Essex County:
Domestic Violence Restraining Order
A domestic violence restraining order is a civil order that applies to those who are current or former members of a household or family. This includes intimate partners, current or former spouses, those who are or were dating, household members, or those who have a child in common.
Sexual Assault Restraining Order
Restraining orders may be issued when an allegation of sexual assault has been made. A judge can issue a civil protective order under the New Jersey Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act (SASPA) to protect victims of sexual violence from their assaulter. A judge can issue a temporary restraining order under SASPA if they believe it's necessary to protect the safety and well-being of a victim. The judge must also find that the victim was the victim of non-consensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, lewdness, or an attempt to do so. The court will typically hold a hearing for a final restraining order within ten days. The restraining order will prevent the person accused from contacting or approaching the person who made the allegation.
Temporary vs. Final Restraining Orders
A temporary restraining order is issued by a judge, often in emergencies. They apply during the interim period, which typically is no more than 10 days, where a hearing is conducted to evaluate the allegations. The subject of the allegations will be served notice of a temporary restraining order, which will contain provisions (conditions). A temporary restraining order can be brought against you even if you are not present. One consequence of a temporary restraining order may be forced removal from your home.
Essex County Restraining Order Hearings
Restraining orders in Essex County are handled by the Family Division of the Essex County Superior Court.
50 W. Market Street
Newark, NJ 07102
Restraining orders may be issued regardless of whether there are criminal charges filed. During a restraining order hearing, the parties may present evidence, and witness testimony may be heard. The petitioner must prove their allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. When proven, the court may issue a final (permanent) restraining order.
An Essex County judge will only issue a FRO if the petitioner shows by a preponderance of the evidence that:
- You have a qualifying domestic relationship. Qualifying relationships include married or formerly married couples, intimate partners, household members, those who are dating or were dating, or those who have a child together.
- You committed an act of domestic violence, which can include assault, sexual assault, harassment, kidnapping, stalking, cyber harassment, or burglary.
- There is an urgent need for restraint to prevent further acts of violence.
If the court doesn't believe that you, as the defendant, are a danger to the plaintiff, they may deny the FRO. But if the court grants the FRO, you will face a $500 fine, and the police will place your photo, information, and fingerprints in the New Jersey Domestic Violence Registry. This database is public and searchable. While most standard criminal background checks don't include the domestic violence registry, deeper employment background checks may include the registry.
The courts may use discretion when creating the conditions within a restraining order. They typically prohibit the defendant from contacting or communicating with the petitioner.
It is important to note that a restraining order hearing simply focuses on the issue of the civil restraining order. If there are criminal charges associated with the order, these will be handled in the criminal court system.
Provisions of an Essex County Restraining Order
Each restraining order is different but might include provisions such as:
- Modifying custody, visitation, and/or financial support of minor children
- A prohibition from owning or possessing firearms or other weapons
- Surrendering firearms
Violating a Restraining Order
Perhaps you want to reconcile with the plaintiff or give a heartfelt apology for how things turned out. My best advice would be to wait it out. While a FRO is a civil matter, contacting a plaintiff despite a TRO or FRO is a criminal offense in Essex County, even if you attempt to do it through a third party. The police may charge you with criminal contempt, and a conviction could result in jail time and hefty fines. Violating a restraining order for a second time can result in 30 days in jail and more fines. You don't want to turn this civil matter into a criminal record.
Restraining Orders in Public Locations
Restraining orders often specify that the defendant can't be within a certain distance of the plaintiff or specific locations like the plaintiff's home, work, or school. If you are in a public location, the rules can get murky. However, it's best not to risk an accusation of violating a restraining order. You should leave immediately. If you and the plaintiff attend the same school, things can get complicated. First, you should consult an attorney. You may need to let the school know if they need to adjust class schedules or on-campus living arrangements. But you could also face repercussions at school, so it's best to consult your attorney as soon as possible.
Essex County Restraining Order Lawyer
Have you been served with a temporary restraining order in Essex County? Don't waste time; assistance from an experienced lawyer is the key to preserving your rights. You need to consult an attorney before your FRO hearing. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm will effectively represent you in a restraining order hearing and defend any related criminal charges. Contact the office at (888) 535-3686 for a case evaluation.