Just How Serious is a Restraining Order in NJ

What You Need to Know about Temporary and Final Restraining Orders

Being served with a temporary restraining order is not something to take lightly in New Jersey. All too often we hear from prospective client’s “I could careless if a Final Restraining Order is imposed, I don’t ever want to speak to them again”. The ramifications of a final order of protection in New Jersey far exceed just simply not speaking to the “victim” again. The issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) in New Jersey is just the beginning. A TRO is exactly what it sounds like, temporary in nature. It gives the alleged victim of domestic violence immediate, temporary  protection. In order for the protections to continue a final restraining order hearing must occur. During that hearing it will be the alleged victim’s burden to establish by a preponderance of the evidence three things: that they qualify as a “protected party” under the New Jersey’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act; that they are the victim of an act of domestic violence and that a final order of protection is necessary in order to prevent future acts of domestic violence. A final restraining order hearing can be extremely complex and since they are usually emotionally driven, they can be overwhelming. Here is some frequent asked questions about restraining orders in Somerset County.

Will I have a Criminal Record if a Final Restraining Order is Imposed?

No. Both temporary and final restraining orders are considered “civil” in nature in New Jersey. Therefore, even if a final order of protection is granted after a full hearing, it will not result in the defendant being scarred with a permanent criminal record. However, if a final order of protection is granted, whether it be after a full hearing or by consent of the defendant, it would require them to be entered into a National Domestic Violence Registry and they will remain until and unless the restraining order is vacated.

How Long Does a Final Order of Protection Last for in NJ?

Unlike just about every other State in the Country, final restraining order’s in New Jersey never expire. The only way for a final restraining order to be vacated in New Jersey is by way of a Court order. In other words, the defendant would need to file a formal motion with the Court and a hearing would need to be conducted. If the Judge is convinced that there is a significant change in circumstances and that “good cause” to remove exists, the final order can be vacated. This can be done despite the victim’s objection. For more information on how to vacate a final restraining order in Somerset County, please click the link.

Can the Police Just take my Firearms if a TRO is Filed?

Yes, it is required. If a temporary restraining order is granted, the police are required to seize any and all weapons that the defendant possesses. If the weapons are not voluntarily turned over, a search warrant can be issued in order to confiscate them. If a final restraining order is ultimately granted, the weapons will be forfeited. If however the TRO is dismissed after a formal hearing or via consent of the victim, it does not automatically mean that the weapons will be returned. The County prosecutor will still have the authority to file a formal motion to forfeit. If that occurs, the defendant would have the ability to contest the forfeiture. It will ultimately be up to the Judge to conclude whether or not the weapons and the Firearms ID Card should be returned. For more information on weapons forfeiture hearings in New Jersey, please click the link.

Can I go to Jail for a Temporary Restraining Order?

In short, even if a final order of protection is granted, the defendant would not be looking at jail time. However, if it is alleged that the defendant violated the terms of the TRO or final order, then yes they would be facing jail time. If the defendant violates the terms of a TRO or FRO then they could be arrested and charged criminally with violating a restraining order. If that is to occur, then the defendant could be facing jail time. New Jersey takes violations of a restraining order very seriously. It is also important to note here that the defendant could be facing criminal charges as well based on the same conduct that warranted the issuance of the TRO. The criminal charges would be in addition to the TRO and would be handled in criminal court. If that is to occur then the defendant would also be facing jail time on those allegations as well.

Where Do I Go to Court for a Temporary Restraining Order in Somerset County?

Since temporary restraining orders are civil in nature, all hearings will be conducted in the Chancery Division, Family Part of the Somerset County Superior Court, which is located in Somerville. If the defendant is served with criminal charges as well then those charges could be handled in either the local municipal court or the Criminal Division of the Somerset County Superior Court. The specific criminal charges will dictate what court has jurisdiction.

Can I get a Public Defender for a Restraining Order in New Jersey?

No. Since a TRO is civil in a nature, the defendant is not entitled to a court appointed attorney. Typically speaking, the alleged victim is not as well. But there are several legal aid organizations in New Jersey that would provide their services free of cost to alleged victims of domestic violence.

What is Considered a Crime of Domestic Violence?

Pursuant to New Jersey’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act, the following crimes would qualify as an act of domestic violence and could form the underlying basis to obtain a restraining order:

What are the Fines Associated in a Final Restraining Order in NJ?

If a final order of protection is imposed in New Jersey the Judge must impose a fine ranging anywhere from $50 to $500. This is not discretionary.

What are some of the main consequences of a Final Order of Protection in NJ?

  • Provide temporary financial support to the victim;
  • Barred from returning to a previously shared residence;
  • Suspension of custody/visitation with their children;
  • Barred from ever owning weapons;
  • A fine ranging from $50-$500;
  • Placed into a National Domestic Violence Registry;
  • Forced to go through heightened security when traveling internationally;
  • Required to undergo Mental Health / Domestic Violence / Substance Abuse Counseling;
  • Barred from contacting the victim and any other protected party.

Looking to Consult with a Restraining Order Defense Attorney in Somerset County

The attorneys at Keith Oliver Criminal Law have dedicated the last decade of their careers to defending those accused of crimes of domestic violence in courts throughout New Jersey including throughout Somerset and Hunterdon County. Our attorneys are well aware of the emotional toll these types of cases have of individuals. If you have been served with a temporary restraining order or charged with an act of domestic violence like cyber-harassmentaggravated assault, terroristic threats or stalking, we can help. We serve all of Somerset and Hunterdon County, including towns like Bridgewater, Hillsborough, Clinton, Union Twp., Franklin, Somerville, Basking Ridge, Bedminster, Readington and Raritan. If you would like to set up a free initial consultation today, please contact us at 908.533.1064.

Author: Keith G. Oliver

Founding partner Keith G. Oliver has a passion for helping people who are caught up in the criminal justice system. He believes that everyone has a right to be presumed innocent, and that one mistake shouldn’t define a person forever. This passion drives Mr. Oliver to tirelessly fight for his clients and pursue the best possible outcome in every case.