According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million Americans are victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence each year. Under federal law, those seeking relief from violence, threats, or harassment may petition a court for a protection order. In New Jersey, this is the process of pursuing a restraining order. These are court orders that prohibit an alleged abuser from committing further harmful acts and from contacting or communicating with the victim.
Those seeking to file a restraining order in Mount Holly should contact the Family Division of the Burlington County Superior Court during business hours or your local police department after hours. The Burlington County Sheriff's Department has a Civil Process Unit that is responsible for serving the defendant with a restraining order. New Jersey has a domestic violence restraining orders and sexual assault restraining orders.
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 to victims of sexual assault. This includes individuals who have experienced nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, or lewdness.
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) that are intended to protect the victim.
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 (plaintiff) must prove their allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. When proven, the court may issue a final (permanent) restraining order.
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 victim—even through a third party. The defendant is generally ordered not to visit the victim's residence, school, place of employment, etc.
Other Various Conditions (Provisions) of Restraining Order
- Many times in domestic violence orders there are minor children involved. The court may implement provisions regarding custody, visitation, financial support, and others.
- Restitution may be ordered to compensate a victim for losses associated with assault or abuse.
- The defendant is usually prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm or other weapon.
Violations of a Restraining Order
The restraining order process is considered to be a civil action. If the provisions of an order are violated, the party may face criminal charges. Law enforcement may arrest and detain individuals when they have probable cause to believe a violation occurred. Violators may face criminal charges for fourth-degree contempt.
Legal Representation in Mount Holly for Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault
Have you been served with a temporary restraining order involving allegations of sexual assault or domestic violence? It is critical to promptly seek assistance from an experienced lawyer. Attorney Joseph D. Lento 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.