A restraining order is one type of civil order that requires an individual to modify his or her behavior. Typically, this will involve prohibiting a person from interacting with, contacting, or coming within a certain distance of another person. A New Jersey restraining order can drastically impact your life.
If you have a final restraining order filed against you, you may be prohibited from seeing your children, you could lose the right to bear arms, and more.
If you have a temporary restraining order out against you, having an experienced attorney fighting alongside you can make the difference. If you're facing a restraining order in Somerville or anywhere in Somerset County, contact the Lento Law Firm today.
Somerset County Restraining Orders
The following types of restraining orders can be put into place in Somerset County.
Sexual Assault Restraining Order
Restraining orders also may be issued when an allegation of sexual assault has been made. The New Jersey Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act (SASPA) allows courts to issue civil protective orders to victims of sexual violence to protect them from their assaulter. A judge can issue an ex parte TRO under SASPA if they think it's needed for the victim's safety and well-being. The judge must also find that the defendant subjected the victim to non-consensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, lewdness, or an attempt at one of these. The restraining order will prevent the person accused from contacting the person who made the allegation.
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. The domestic relationships that qualify for a restraining order include:
- Those who are or were married,
- Current or former intimate partners,
- Those who are or were dating,
- Household members, and
- Those who have a child in common.
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). 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 the home.
Restraining Order Hearing
The Somerset County Courthouse is located at:
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 must prove their allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. When proven, the court may issue a final (permanent) restraining order.
A judge will only issue the FRO if the plaintiff shows by a preponderance of the evidence that:
- You both have a qualifying domestic relationship. A qualifying domestic relationship includes current or former intimate partners, household members, you were or are dating, married or formerly married partners, or couples who have a child together.
- You committed an act of domestic violence. Domestic violence in New Jersey can include a number of crimes between family members, including assault, sexual assault, harassment, kidnapping, stalking, cyber harassment, or burglary.
- The FRO is urgently needed to prevent further acts of violence.
The most common reason a court might deny a FRO is if it finds the defendant isn't a danger to the plaintiff. If the court grants the FRO, you will face a $500 fine, and the police will place your photo, information, and fingerprints in the New Jersey Domestic Violence Registry. This database is public and searchable.
The courts may use discretion when creating the conditions within a restraining order. They typically prohibit the defendant from contacting or communicating with the petitioner. It is important to note that a restraining order hearing simply focuses on the issue of the civil restraining order. If there are criminal charges associated with the order, these will be handled in the criminal court system.
Provisions of a Somerset County Restraining Order
Each restraining order is different, but might include provisions such as:
- Modifying custody, visitation, and/or financial support of minor children
- A prohibition from owning or possessing firearms or other weapons
- Prohibiting the defendant from contacting the plaintiff online or in person
The Parties Can Enforce Restraining Orders Across State Lines
In most cases, the plaintiff to a New Jersey restraining order can enforce the FRO 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. The defendant must also have:
- 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.
Are restraining orders criminal or civil?
Restraining orders are civil actions in New Jersey. However, if you violate a restraining order, whether temporary or final, it is a criminal offense and considered criminal contempt of a court order. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:29-9. If the plaintiff alleges that you violated the restraining order, even if it's a small violation like a text or email, the police must arrest you if they believe you violated the order. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:25-31. If you violate a restraining order a second time, it will result in 30 days in jail. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:25-30.
Somerset County Restraining Order Attorney
Have you been served with a temporary restraining order in Somerset County? It is critical to promptly seek assistance from an experienced lawyer to preserve your rights. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm 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.