Judges are able to issue protection orders, also referred to as restraining orders, in efforts to protect the safety of individuals. These orders may be preliminary when a decision is pending. They are designed to prevent and prohibit one person from engaging or being in close proximity to another. The courts in New Jersey may implement such orders to stop harassment, abuse, or violence.
Domestic Violence Protection
Restraining orders are commonly issued in cases of domestic violence. In these scenarios, the order may involve the victim and one of the following:
- A current or former spouse, or other current or former member of a household
- A current of former individual who someone has had a romantic or dating relationship with
- Someone they have had a child with or will soon have (if pregnant)
In cases of domestic violence where a defendant is found guilty of an offense, the court may prohibit the defendant from contacting the victim, their friends, family, co-workers, etc. The defendant may also be required to complete professional counseling and to provide documentation of completion. No order may be dissolved until these and other similar requirements are satisfied.
Sexual Assault Protection
Protective orders are commonly issued in cases of sexual assault. In 2016, New Jersey implemented the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act (SASPA). This Act allowed for victims of sexual assault to seek a protective order against the alleged abuser without formally filing criminal charges or contacting an agency of law enforcement.
Temporary Restraining Orders
A judge may implement a restraining order on an interim basis. “Ex parte relief” is a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued in an emergency that becomes effective immediately. These orders seek to protect the alleged victim's well-being until a final restraining order hearing is held. An ex parte relief order may be made by the judge based solely on the information provided by the victim (accuser). They may be issued by a judge in the absence of the victim (accuser) if there is sworn testimony or a complaint.
The final restraining order hearing is generally held within 10 days. If the court is closed at the time, there is usually an “on call” judge who will issue a TRO. If the order is denied, you can visit the court when it reopens to request one. The terms of a restraining order may include:
- The alleged perpetrator is prohibited from coming in contact with the alleged victim and visiting any locations stated in the order
- The alleged perpetrator may be prohibited from possessing weapons
- Communication may not be made over the phone, in writing, or initiated by another party on their behalf
- In cases involved with domestic violence, the court may specify provisions regarding child custody
- In cases of domestic violence, the court may require that medical expenses be paid if they are the result of the alleged perpetrator
- In cases such as with domestic violence, the alleged perpetrator may be permitted to retrieve their belongings and promptly vacate the premises.
- Temporary restraining orders are applicable throughout the state
Final Hearing for Order
During a hearing regarding a protection order, both parties have an opportunity to address the court. Hearings may allow for testimony, evidence, and witnesses. A final order may continue indefinitely. Parties may initiate a motion to change or terminate an order, which the judge will consider.
Importance of Legal Representation
Those who are subject to a protection order are strongly encouraged to retain seasoned legal assistance. Contact with an attorney should be made immediately because a final restraining order hearing is usually held within a 10 day period. Your attorney will represent your best interests and may seek to minimize the extent of the requirements included in the court order.
New Jersey Attorney for Restraining Orders
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent years representing clients throughout New Jersey involved in matters related to court-ordered protection. For a prompt consultation, contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.