If you're a New Jersey resident who's going through the restraining order process in the state, it's important to know about the different types of orders that are available.
Protective orders are protective mechanisms offered to alleged victims of abuse by the courts. The different types of orders are similar in some ways but different in others. Traditional restraining orders are the types of orders that are sought out by people who are alleged victims of assault or abuse, but there is another similar type of order that they may also decide to seek out called a civil restraints order.
A civil restraints order is an order that takes the restraining order process out of the courtroom and places it at the negotiating table. With a civil restraints order procedure, the petitioner and the defendant get together with their legal counsel and create a protection order with terms that work for both parties.
When a traditional restraining order case takes place, it's decided in a courtroom where a judge hears testimony from the petitioner about why a protection order should or should not be granted.
With a civil restraints order, you skip that entire process and go straight to a situation where the parties work together to come out with a solution that works for both of them. These types of orders should be put together with the assistance of legal counsel. If you're dealing with a restraining order case, it is extremely important that you speak with an experienced attorney who can help you through the process.
What Is a Civil Restraints Order?
A civil restraints order is a restraining order contract. When a civil restraints order is sought, the presiding judge in the case doesn't have any control over the negotiation or any of the discussions. Instead, the parties sit down with their attorneys and work out an arrangement that works for both of them. Once this arrangement is ready, it's presented to the court. The judge, in this case, simply looks at the agreement and makes sure that all of the measures sought are appropriate and that the agreement is complete.
In a traditional restraining order case, the judge is responsible for figuring out what happened between the parties and whether protection orders should be granted. The petitioner must show that the defendant committed the alleged abuse and that continued protection is needed. The petitioner will go before the judge and present their case so that the judge can determine whether a restraining order should be authorized.
When you're dealing with a civil restraints order, none of this takes place. Instead, it is more of a mutual agreement between both parties on what type of protection should be used going forward.
Traditional restraining orders and civil restraints orders are very similar in that they both offer protection to the petitioner against unwanted abuse, assault, or contact, but they're enforced differently. When someone violates a traditional restraining order, they are literally committing a crime. Violating a restraining order is considered a criminal offense and will be treated as so. The violator will face criminal charges, and they could face jail time of up to 180 days and a fine of up to $1000. With a civil restraints order, any violation is considered a breach of contract, and the penalties are usually civil, not criminal.
Provisions of a Somerset County Civil Restraints Order
Whether a petitioner gets a traditional restraining order or a civil restraints order in Somerset County, they're getting significant protection from the court. That protection includes the following:
- No contact orders
- Orders that allow very limited contact through email or text messages
- Orders that are against any assault of contact or conduct
- Orders against harassment
- Orders that allow limited contact in cases involving child custody issues
The defendant and the petitioner in a civil restraints case will discuss and determine what measures they need for their specific case. Both sides should have attorneys lead the discussion. The defendant should never reach out to the petitioner to discuss getting a civil restraints order since doing so would violate any temporary restraining order already in place. Remember, violating a restraining order is a criminal act that can land the violator in jail.
When Can a Civil Restraints Order Be Entered?
Civil restraints orders are usually issued during a divorce or a domestic court proceeding where a protection order is sought. If the parties involved in the case want to use a civil restraints order instead, they can only start to initiate the process once a temporary restraining order has been filed and authorized by the court.
When an alleged victim seeks a temporary restraining order, they have to fill out a petition with the court and attend a hearing with a judge who will then determine if temporary protection is necessary. If a judge decides that it's necessary, the temporary restraining order will be issued, and the judge will then set a date for the final restraining order hearing. That hearing will usually take place within ten days of the temporary restraining order being filed.
If both parties decide instead to go the civil restraints order route, they have to do so in the period that takes place after the temporary restraining order is issued but before the final restraining order is issued. If the final restraining order has already been issued, it's too late. They will not be able to pursue the civil restraints order process.
Advantages of a Civil Restraints Order Versus a Restraining Order
There are several reasons that civil restraints orders are advantageous to both petitioners and defendants.
When it comes to the petitioner, the benefits are as follows:
- They will be guaranteed a protective order, something that is not the case when seeking a regular restraining order
- They will have the ability to choose exactly the terms that will make them feel comfortable versus having those terms decided for them
- They'll be able to avoid having to go through the stress of having to go to the final restraining order hearing
As far as the defendant is concerned, there are several key reasons that they may wish to go the civil restraints order route as well:
- They'll be able to negotiate the terms that work for them
- They won't have to go through the stress of having to go through the final restraining order hearing
- They won't have to deal with law enforcement if there are any alleged violations
- They will be able to avoid all the issues that come up with employment and their professional lives when there's a restraining order on their record
Civil restraints orders are a great way to halt traditional restraining order proceedings. They're an opportunity for both the petitioner and the defendant to come to an agreement on terms that benefit both of them. The petitioner and defendant must agree on all terms before they're presented to the judge. The judge will make the decision as to whether or not the civil restraints order can go forward. If they don't think that the order is reasonable or complete, they won't approve it.
What Happens if Someone Violates a Civil Restraining Order?
If someone violates a civil restraining order, they'll incur civil penalties instead of criminal ones. If someone violates a restraining order, they are in serious trouble. This is because a restraining order is a criminal document, and to violate it is to break the law. The violator can end up in jail for up to 180 days, and they can face a $1,000 fine. Someone who violates a civil restraining order is looked at as “breaching a contract.” They will be subject to civil penalties handed down by the court.
Where Can I File a Civil Restraints Order in Somerset County?
If a temporary restraining order has already been filed in Somerset County Superior Court, you need to file the civil restraints order in the same court. Remember that you have to file for the order before a final restraining order is issued. If a final order has already been filed, you won't get the civil restraints order.
The Somerset County Superior Court is located at:
20 North Bridge Street
Somerville, New Jersey 08876
The court is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
It's extremely important that you have an attorney's help with any issues relating to a restraining order and negotiating for a civil restraining order. If you try and handle it on your own, you could end up being in violation of the existing temporary restraining order, putting you in serious trouble.
Can I Have a Civil Restraints Order Canceled?
Yes. It's absolutely possible to cancel a civil restraints order if both parties determine that they no longer need the agreement. They must file documents with the court to have it canceled. However, the decision does not rest with them. The judge will look over the request, and they'll sign for its dismissal if everything is in order. If they don't feel that it's appropriate to cancel it, the civil restraints order will stand.
Contact the Lento Law Firm Today
If you have questions about restraining orders or civil restraints orders in New Jersey, you need the help of an experienced attorney who can walk you through the process. It's extremely important that you understand exactly what the Somerset County Superior Court is looking for when it is determining whether or not to grant you a civil restraints order.
Joseph Lento and the experts at the Lento Law Firm have years of experience helping people go through the protective order process, and they know exactly what to do to help you get through the process. Reach out to the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686, or contact us online.