Restraining orders are a legal tool used to protect victims of domestic violence, harassment, or other forms of abuse from their alleged abusers. In New Jersey, defending yourself from a restraining order can be a complex and overwhelming legal process, especially for defendants who may be navigating the court system for the first time. Understanding the legal processes and considerations involved in defending yourself from a restraining order can help you effectively protect your rights.
If you or someone you love is facing accusations of domestic violence or abuse and has been served with a restraining order, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense professional. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm's Restraining Order Defense Team can help you not only protect yourself from unnecessary hardship and punishment but also help you navigate the legal process from the moment you find out you are accused.
Legal Process for Restraining Order
In New Jersey, a restraining order is intended to shield a victim from their alleged abuser. As such, victims can petition for a restraining order whenever they want, including right after becoming the victim of a criminal offense. Either way, if the court decides to grant the restraining order, they will notify the defendant that if they violate it, they will be held in contempt of court, which is a criminal offense.
There are two types of restraining orders in New Jersey: temporary restraining orders (TRO) and final restraining orders (FRO). To receive a restraining order, a victim of domestic violence or harassment must file a complaint with the court requesting a TRO first. If the judge determines that the victim is in immediate danger of harm, they will issue a TRO immediately, which typically lasts until a final restraining order hearing can be held.
While the purpose of a TRO is to provide immediate – temporary – protection for the victim, a FRO hearing is necessary to determine whether the restraining order should be final and permanent. During the FRO hearing, which usually takes place ten days after the imposition of the TRO, both the victim and the accused abuser will have an opportunity to present relevant evidence and witness testimony, to bolster their arguments.
A final restraining order will be issued if the judge determines that the victim has suffered from domestic violence, which is defined broadly in New Jersey to include not only physical violence but also emotional abuse, sexual assault, and other forms of abusive behavior.
If a final restraining order is issued, it can last indefinitely, unless appealed properly within 45 days. To ensure the appeal is filed appropriately, the defendant must prove that one of the following happened during the trial:
- That the judge incorrectly applied or interpreted a specific area of law.
- The judge misinterpreted the facts of the case.
- The judge misapplied the rules of evidence.
- Or that the judge's findings were incomplete.
The appeals court will review the appeal and determine whether the restraining order should be reversed, amended, or reheard. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm's Restraining Order Defense Team understand how confusing this entire process can be and will work tirelessly to ensure you are included fully in your defense.
Considerations of Restraining Orders in NJ
For a victim to pursue a restraining order, they must be able to provide evidence that they have been a victim of domestic violence or harassment. Thus, for an alleged defendant to defend themselves from a restraining order, they must provide evidence to show that the allegations against them are false or exaggerated. Such evidence can include witness testimony, text messages or emails, or other documentation that contradicts the victim's claims.
Additionally, if a temporary restraining order is issued against a defendant, it is important to comply with all its terms in its entirety, even if they believe the allegations are false. If a defendant violates a restraining order, it will result in criminal charges and other serious consequences, like having the restraining order extended, losing custody or visitation rights of children, deporting non-citizen defendants, or impacting their future employment opportunities.
Consequences of Restraining Orders
Restraining orders can have serious consequences on a defendant's freedom and behavior. For instance, it can prohibit the defendant from entering the victim's workplace, which can be quite difficult if the victim works at the only grocery store in town. The defendant will be forced to grocery shop farther away from home.
Further, if the defendant and victim work in the same building, a restraining order may force the defendant to resign from their job or change their hours. It could also force employers to fire the alleged abuser, helping to reinforce the defendant's new reputation.
Restraining orders can also prohibit defendants from contacting the victim or members of their family or household, including phone calls, emails, and text messages.
How an Experienced Criminal Defense Professional Can Help
If you are facing allegations of domestic violence or harassment in New Jersey, it is important to understand the legal implications and potential consequences. Navigating the legal process surrounding restraining orders can be complex and overwhelming, especially if you are facing criminal charges as well. That's where a skilled criminal professional comes in.
With experience handling domestic violence cases and restraining orders in New Jersey, Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm's Criminal Law Team can help protect your rights and defend you in court. In fact, they will work diligently to construct a strategic defense that will ensure you the best possible outcome for your case. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.