Domestic violence is a chronic issue across the U.S. and at home in New Jersey. As a result, the New Jersey legislature passed the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act in 1982. See N.J.S.A. §§ 2C:25-17 - 25-35. New Jersey law now allows victims of domestic violence and certain other crimes to get court orders to protect themselves from potential abusers. A restraining order can legally keep the defendant from contacting or approaching the petitioner or plaintiff.
Who Can Get a Restraining Order in Jersey City, New Jersey?
New Jersey law provides for two types of restraining orders, temporary restraining orders (TRO) and final restraining orders (FRO). Both types of restraining orders can protect a victim from an abuser that is a family member, former or current intimate or dating partner, or a co-parent. However, temporary orders only remain in place until the court can hold a final hearing in about ten days. FROs can remain in place much longer and are usually permanent. FROs remain in place until one of the parties to the order asks the court to modify or remove it. But violating a restraining order is a criminal offense.
Where Do Restraining Order Hearings Happen in Jersey City?
The county seat of Hudson County is in Jersey City, which is where restraining order hearings will happen in the Hudson County Superior Court. The courthouse is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
595 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07306
How Do Restraining Orders Work in Jersey City, Hudson County?
In the Hudson County seat of Jersey City, obtaining a restraining order is similar to other county seats and court locations throughout New Jersey. First, the petitioner will petition the court for a temporary order. If the court grants one, it will set a hearing to decide the final order.
1. Temporary Restraining Orders
The petitioner will have an ex parte hearing with a judge at the beginning of the restraining order application process. Ex parte means only one party is present, and the court will not notify you of this hearing in advance. If the judge believes an order is needed to protect the petitioner's well-being, health, or life, they may issue a TRO. At the same time, the judge will set a hearing for the final restraining order decision in about ten days. The TRO will only remain in place until the final hearing decision. See N.J.S.A. §§ 2C:25-28(a),(f); 2C:25-29(a).
Once the court enters a TRO against you, the court will serve you with the TRO and the final hearing date. The police may also confiscate your firearms and remove you from your home if you live with the petitioner. This removal can happen even if you own the home or have your name on the lease. The TRO may also temporarily remove your custody or visitation for any children you share with the petitioner.
2. Final Restraining Orders
Once the court sets a date for the final hearing, you will receive notice. You can participate in the hearing to tell your story and present evidence and witnesses. The FRO hearing is a more formal proceeding than the TRO hearing, and the petitioner must show the order is necessary by a preponderance of the evidence. Before granting a FRO for domestic violence, the court must find:
- You and the petitioner have a qualified domestic relationship, meaning you are current or former partners, have a dating relationship, are family members, members of the same household, or have children together.
- You committed an act of domestic violence, which includes assault, harassment, threats, stalking, sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary, criminal mischief, false imprisonment, lewdness, or any other crime qualified as domestic violence under New Jersey law.
- The order is needed to prevent further violence.
Your defense will be more difficult if a court has already convicted you of a domestic violence charge. But whether you have a criminal record or not, you need an attorney there to present your best possible defense. If the judge enters a FRO, it may contain detailed provisions preventing you from contacting or harassing the petitioner, as well as provisions that:
- Provide for financial support, visitation, and custody for any children,
- Provide financial support for any financial obligations such as rent, mortgage, insurance, or car payments,
- Protection the petitioner from domestic violence,
- Prohibit you from owning or possessing firearms, and
- Order you into counseling or therapy.
The police will fingerprint and photograph you for the New Jersey Domestic Violence Registry, 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 Hudson County 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?
It's never a good idea to willfully violate a court order, and a restraining order is no exception. If you violate a restraining order in Jersey City, in Hudson County, or anywhere for that matter, it is a criminal offense and considered criminal contempt of a court order. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:29-9. Even an accidental contact such as a text to the wrong number or a like on social media may be a violation of your restraining order, and you could face an arrest and jail. A second restraining order violation can result in a mandatory 30-day jail sentence. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:25-30.
If you violate your restraining order, it could also affect future custody and visitation matters. Moreover, the court will be unlikely to lift your restraining order any time soon. As a result, you should ensure that you understand all the terms of the restraining order against you and carefully comply with all of them.
Hire an Experienced Restraining Order Attorney
You should never have to face an upcoming restraining order hearing on your own. You need an experienced New Jersey criminal lawyer by your side. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has been assisting Hudson County and Jersey City, New Jersey families with the restraining order process for years, and he can help you too. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or schedule an appointment online.