Domestic violence is a serious matter in the Hunterdon County seat of Flemington, as it is across New Jersey. To tackle this chronic issue, the New Jersey legislature passed the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act in 1982. See N.J.S.A. §§ 2C:25-17 - 25-35. Now, under New Jersey law, victims of domestic violence can get court orders protecting themselves from their abusers. A restraining order legally prohibits someone from contacting or coming near the petitioner temporarily or permanently.
Who Can Obtain a Restraining Order Against Me in Flemington, New Jersey?
In New Jersey, the law allows two types of restraining orders – temporary restraining orders (TRO) and final restraining orders (FRO). Both types of orders can protect a petitioner from an abuser they share a domestic relationship with. A court can issue restraining orders against a family member, former or current intimate partner, or co-parent. Temporary orders only remain in place until the court can hold a final hearing, about ten days. FROs permanently remain in place until one of the parties asks the court to modify or remove them.
Where Do Restraining Order Hearings Happen in the Hunterdon County Seat?
The Hunterdon County seat is in Flemington, New Jersey, where restraining order and custody hearings will happen. Hearings take place in the Family Part of the Chancery Division in the Hunterdon County Superior Court. The courthouse is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
Hunterdon County Superior Court
65 Park Avenue
Flemington, NJ 08822
How Do Restraining Orders Work in Flemington?
Across the state of New Jersey, the process for obtaining a restraining order is similar. In the Hunterdon County Seat of Flemington, the petitioner first applies for a temporary restraining order. If the court issues a TRO, it will then hold a hearing to decide whether to issue a final restraining order.
1. Temporary Restraining Orders
When a petitioner first requests a restraining order against you, the judge will hold an ex parte hearing to determine whether to issue a temporary order. An ex parte hearing means that only one party is present, and you won't have the right to participate in the hearing. Based on the information from the petitioner, the judge will issue a TRO if they feel it is needed to protect the life, health, or well-being of the petitioner. The court will also set a hearing to decide whether to issue a final restraining order. The TRO remains in place until the hearing for a final restraining order, typically about ten days. See N.J.S.A. §§ 2C:25-28(a),(f); 2C:25-29(a).
After the court issues a TRO, the police will serve you with the order and notify you of the date of the final restraining order hearing. If you own firearms, the police may also confiscate them until the final hearing decision. If you live with the petitioner, the court may also order you to leave while the TRO is in place, even if your name is on the lease or you pay the rent and mortgage. The TRO may also temporarily award custody to your co-parent and order you to provide financial support.
2. Final Restraining Orders
The court will give you notice of the final hearing, and you have the right to participate. You and the petitioner can tell your side of the story and present evidence and witnesses to the court. The hearing will be more extensive than the TRO hearing, and the petitioner must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. To enter a FRO for domestic violence, the court should find:
- You and the petitioner have a qualified domestic relationship, which can include current or former partners, dating relationships, family members, members of the same household, and parties with children together.
- You committed an act of domestic violence. Domestic violence can include crimes such as assault, harassment, threats, stalking, sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary, criminal mischief, false imprisonment, lewdness, criminal trespass, robbery, criminal coercion, online harassment, contempt of a domestic violence order, or any other crime that involving a risk of death or serious bodily injury.
- Restraints are needed to prevent future domestic violence.
The final restraining order entered by the judge will probably be much more detailed than the TRO. It can contain provisions including those:
- Preventing you from harassing or contacting the petitioner,
- Awarding temporary custody and financial support for children,
- Awarding financial support for rent, a mortgage, insurance, or other financial obligations,
- Protection the petitioner from violence and harassment,
- Prohibiting you from owning, buying, or possessing firearms, and
- Ordering you to attend therapy, counseling, or anger management courses.
If the court enters a FRO, the police will fingerprint and photograph you for the state domestic violence database, and you will face a $500 fine.
Additionally, a final restraining order lasts for life in New Jersey. The only exception to this is if the Hunterdon County Superior Court were to vacate the FRO at a later time only upon a showing of good cause, which can be a difficult bar to meet for a defendant.
What Happens if I Violate a Restraining Order?
You'll face criminal charges if you violate a restraining order in Flemington, in Hunterdon County, or anywhere for that matter. Violating a restraining order is criminal contempt of a court order. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:29-9. If you violate a restraining order a second time, it can result in a 30-day mandatory jail sentence. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:25-30. You will have a criminal record and violating a restraining order can make it more likely that you'll lose child visitation or custody. Violating a FRO can also make it less likely that a New Jersey court will lift the FRO against you in the future.
Hire an Experienced Restraining Order Attorney
When you're facing a restraining order against you, you need a skilled New Jersey criminal lawyer by your side. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped Hunterdon County and Flemington families through restraining order litigation for years. He can help you too. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or schedule an appointment online.