A Bergen County man recently found himself in hot water over something that most people do daily—posting on social media. Officers arrested Derek Peter Miller for calling a domestic violence victim "very suggestive names" in messages on Facebook and other applications. The court previously issued a restraining order that prohibited Miller from contacting the victim. Officers allege that Miller's online statements violated the terms of that order. Upon arrest, police officers charged Miller with contempt, invasion of privacy, harassment, and cyber-harassment. He remains in jail pending a hearing.
Restraining Order Violations and Social Media
Though most defendants understand that a protective order prevents you from contacting a person physically, it's not always clear what those rules mean on the internet. Therefore, the goal of this two-part post is to arm you with knowledge about online conduct and restraining orders so that you don't end up in jail on a protective order violation too.
What is a Restraining Order?
There are four types of restraining orders in New Jersey— a domestic temporary and final restraining order ("TRO" and "FRO," respectively) and a temporary and final sexual assault restraining order ("SARO"). The court issues SAROs to victims of sexual assault regardless of whether the parties have a domestic relationship. Conversely, the court grants TROs and FROs to protect against domestic violence by:
- A current or former spouse or member of the household,
- A current or former romantic partner, or
- A co-parent.
In both the domestic and sexual assault context, a temporary protective order is emergency relief issued on an ex parte basis. This means that the court may issue the order based solely on the information provided by the victim, and it becomes effective immediately upon issuance. The court usually holds a FRO hearing within ten days of the issuance of a TRO. During that hearing, both parties have an opportunity to address the court.
What Does a Restraining Order Prohibit?
Domestic protection orders prevent an alleged domestic violence abuser from contacting the victim in any manner, whether directly or indirectly. They also can prohibit the abuser from visiting the victim's residence, possessing a firearm, and committing other acts of domestic abuse. Some restraining orders also deal with issues of child custody, possession of the household, and the payment of medical bills for a victim's injuries. A SARO prohibits the alleged perpetrator of a nonconsensual sexual act or lewdness from contacting the victim in any manner, whether directly or indirectly as well.
Getting Legal Help
Defending yourself against a restraining order violation is a stressful experience, regardless of whether the alleged contact occurred online or offline. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has years of experience fighting for the rights of the accused in New Jersey and can help you with your case too. Call (888) 535-3686 now to speak directly with Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm about your restraining order concerns today.