In the state of New Jersey, restraining orders are available to those who are victims of violence or other assaultive behavior. Restraining orders must be approved by a judge, and the judge's decision will be based on several factors. While restraining orders are civil in nature, they can turn to criminal charges quickly if one is not careful. If you have questions about restraining orders, then it is important that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
What is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order is a judicial directive granted by a court to restrain certain individuals from having contact or being near another individual. Restraining orders are given when there are allegations of violence and are intended to keep people safe from threatening or harmful individuals. Most restraining order cases involve people that know each other. Typically, they are a former couple or family members.
Anyone seeking a restraining order in New Jersey must file their petition in the county where they live. Restraining orders are only available from superior court county judges. To get a restraining order, the petition requires an explanation of what the allegations are, along with where and when the alleged acts occurred. Judges will also be curious to know if there are any prior accusations of assaultive activity. A judge can grant a restraining order if one or more of the following acts are alleged:
- Sexual assault
- False imprisonment
What Types of Restraining Orders Exist?
There are two types of restraining orders that exist in New Jersey, and they are typically issued one after another. One is temporary in nature, while the other is more permanent. A discussion of the differences between them is as follows:
The first type of restraining order is called a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). A TRO is an interim restraining order that a judge can authorize when an allegation of violence is filed with the appropriate superior court or a local police station. The person seeking a TRO is required to appear in court for the judge to determine if a TRO should be issued to protect him or her against the person they are alleging has harmed them. If the TRO is approved by the judge, then it is served on the individual named in the complaint by local police or county sheriff.
The second type of restraining order in New Jersey is called a Final Restraining Order (FRO). A FRO is only granted after a full hearing that gives both sides an opportunity to be heard. This is different from a TRO, as a TRO only hears the petitioner's side of the story. A FRO is permanent and cannot be removed unless the judge thinks it is best to do so. If a judge decides to approve an initial TRO, then the court will then set a hearing date for a FRO hearing. This hearing is usually set within ten days and is meant to determine if a FRO should be granted.
What Happens if Someone Violates a Restraining Order?
Both TROs and FROs are considered civil in nature but can turn into a criminal action if one isn't careful. This is because a violation of any of the terms of either a TRO or FRO can lead to a criminal contempt charge. If someone is accused of violating a TRO or FRO, then the police are required to arrest the individual accused. TRO and FRO violations can result in several punishments depending on what type of violations are alleged. The first violation of a restraining order can result in up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. A second violation can result in a mandatory 30-day jail sentence. If domestic violence is alleged in conjunction with the violation of a TRO or FRO, then this can result in a felony charge of the fourth degree. A conviction can be punished by up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Can I Get a Restraining Order Cancelled?
When a restraining order is granted, it is considered permanent unless the court has reason to revisit the case and make any changes. The court will only reconsider a restraining order decision after an appeal or motion for reconsideration is filed. Judges will only change terms if they are convinced that it is in the best interests of those involved. Even if a couple gets back together, the court orders will remain in place until a judge says otherwise.
If you already have a restraining order against you and want to appeal, then your case will go to the appropriate appellate court. In the appellate court, your case is reviewed along with any testimony transcripts to determine if the Superior Court judge followed the law correctly. Any restraining order reconsideration or appeals motions must be filed within 20 days of the judge's order. If you don't file your appeal or motion for reconsideration during this time, then you will likely lose your ability to have a judge reconsider their decision against you. If this happens, then you will need to file a new motion with completely new facts for the judge to hear your appeal. If you have legal questions, then call us at The Lento Law Firm so we can help!
Contact the Lento Law Firm Today
If you have questions about what is including in restraining orders, then it is important that you speak to an experienced attorney. It is important to know how the restraining order process works and what a judge can restrain you from doing. To learn why the Lento Law Firm is the right decision to help you with your case, call us toll-free at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.