A restraining order is a type of civil order that mandates one individual modify his or her behavior in relation to another person. Often this order prohibits a person from interacting with, contacting, or coming within a certain distance of, that person.
A New Jersey restraining order can seriously impact your life: you may lose the right to bear arms, you may be prohibited from seeing your children. If you have a temporary restraining order out against you, having an experienced lawyer on your side is non-negotiable. If you're facing a restraining order in New Brunswick or anywhere in the Middlesex County area, contact the Lento Law Firm today.
Middlesex County Restraining Orders
The following types of restraining orders can be put into place in Middlesex 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, which are current or former spouses or those who have a child in common.
Sexual Assault Restraining Order
Restraining orders also may be issued when an allegation of sexual assault has been made. The restraining order will prevent the person accused from contacting 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, at which time 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 removal from your home.
Final restraining orders are permanent and don't expire. They remain in place until one of the parties asks the court to modify or remove the restraining order.
Middlesex County Restraining Order Hearings
Middlesex County Family Court is responsible for restraining orders, while the Middlesex Domestic Violence Unit is responsible for the prosecution of domestic violence cases in Criminal Court and violations of restraining orders.
Middlesex County Family Court is located at:
120 New Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Restraining orders may be issued regardless of whether there are criminal charges filed. During a final restraining order hearing, the parties may present evidence and introduce witness testimony. The petitioner must prove their allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. When proven, the court may issue a final (permanent) restraining order if the judge finds:
- The parties have a qualified domestic relationship: A domestic relationship includes a current or former marriage, a dating relationship, members of the same household, or the parties have one or more children together.
- The defendant committed an act of violence: Acts of domestic violence include assault, harassment, terroristic threats, criminal restraint, stalking, sexual assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, burglary, criminal mischief, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, criminal trespass, robbery, criminal coercion, cyber harassment, contempt of a domestic violence order that is a crime or “disorderly persons offense,” or any other crime that involves the risk of death or serious bodily injury.
- There is an immediate need for restraints to prevent further instances of domestic violence.
The courts may use their discretion when creating the conditions within a restraining order. They typically prohibit the defendant from contacting or communicating with the petitioner.
Provisions of a Middlesex County Restraining Order
Each restraining order is different, but might include provisions such as:
- Modifying custody, visitation, and/or financial support of minor children or a spouse
- Meeting financial obligations like mortgages, car payments, or rent
- Prohibition from owning or possessing firearms or other weapons
- Counseling or therapy
If a judge enters a final restraining order, the police will photograph and fingerprint the respondent and enter their information into a police database. The respondent will also face a $500 fine and can no longer legally own a firearm.
For sexual assault restraining orders, the order can:
- Prevent future acts of sexual violence;
- Prevent stalking;
- Prevent the defendant from contacting the plaintiff;
- Prevent online or in-person harassment;
- Prevent the defendant from entering places where the plaintiff might be, like work, school, or home.
Restraining Orders are Civil, not Criminal
A final restraining order is a civil violation in New Jersey and generally won't appear on a standard criminal background check. However, all restraining orders appear in the Domestic Violence Central Registry, which is available to the public and searchable. The DV registry records offenders' information to help police and courts facilitate restraining orders and protect domestic violence victims. After a court issues a final restraining order, the police will fingerprint and photograph the respondent and enter the information into the national and New Jersey domestic violence registry. No court must find you guilty of a crime to place you on this registry.
While a restraining order is a civil violation, violating a restraining order is a criminal offense. Moreover, the police know that you've violated a restraining order, they have to arrest you. A second violation of a restraining order results in a mandatory 30-day jail sentence.
The Parties Can Enforce Restraining Orders Across State Lines
In many cases, a plaintiff to a New Jersey restraining order can enforce it in other states. Federal law gives a New Jersey restraining order full faith and credit in other states as long as New Jersey had jurisdiction over both parties when the court issued the order and the defendant had reasonable notice of the hearing and an opportunity to respond. The plaintiff doesn't have to register the restraining order before enforcing it in another state.
Similarly, if a plaintiff to a restraining order in another state wishes to enforce it in New Jersey, the New Jersey police and courts will enforce it. As long as the out-of-state court had jurisdiction over both parties at the time, and the defendant had notice and an opportunity to respond, New Jersey will recognize and enforce the restraining order.
Middlesex County Restraining Order Representation
Have you been served with a temporary restraining order in Middlesex County? It is important to promptly seek assistance from an experienced advocate. Attorney Joseph D. Lento will represent you in a restraining order hearing and defend any related criminal charges. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 for a case evaluation.