If you have had a restraining order or protective order filed against you in a court in New Jersey, you can face criminal penalties for violating this order. In many cases, restraining orders prevent you from harming or harassing the person listed in the order. Many of these kinds of acts are also independent crimes and can lead to penalties on top of the restraining order violation.
If you have been accused of violating a restraining order in New Jersey, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our attorneys can schedule a free legal consultation to help you understand the potential penalties you can face and the steps you can take to fight charges for a protective order violation. To schedule a free legal consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.
Penalties for Violating a Protective Order or Restraining Order in NJ
Violating a restraining order is a crime in New Jersey. In many cases, there are also civil penalties or civil contempt proceedings available for violating a protective order, but protective orders for witness protection or domestic violence are much stronger, and a violation of these orders can result in criminal penalties and fines.
Contempt under N.J.S.A. § 2C:29-9 is the crime of “knowingly” disobeying a court-ordered restraining order or protective order. Restraining orders come from different sources, and each one has a different potential penalty for violation. Across all restraining order violations, a second or subsequent violation can include a period of at least 30 days in jail. Otherwise, the penalties depend on why the protective order was issued and how it was violated:
Witness Protection Restraining Order Violations
If you are involved in criminal proceedings for another case, it is likely that the court will issue a restraining order to protect the victim from further communication, intimidation, or crime. If you violate this kind of protective order, you will be charged with a fourth degree crime. These crimes are punished with up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Domestic Violence Restraining Order Violations
Restraining orders related to domestic violence or abuse of a dating partner are ordered after alleged incidents involving abuse, threats, harassment, or other behaviors. Many of these orders ban you from communicating with or going within a certain distance of the protected person, or they may stop you from entering your shared home or owning a gun. These orders may also act as additional protections by barring you from doing things that are already illegal, such as assaulting, harassing, or stalking the victim.
If you violated one of these restraining orders by doing something that is also illegal, the violation is a fourth degree crime carrying up to 18 months in jail and fines up to $10,000. If the violation does not involve acts that are independently illegal, the violation is a disorderly persons offense carrying up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000.
Some terms in domestic violence restraining orders, such as orders for payment, do not typically constitute a crime if you violate the order. Instead, civil penalties will usually apply.
Stalking Restraining Order Violations
If a restraining order has been filed against you for alleged stalking or a conviction for stalking, a violation is taken even more seriously. This kind of violation is a third degree crime punished by 3-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000, but only if the violation would also constitute an independent crime (such as additional instances of stalking).
Sexual Assault Restraining Order Violations
Victims of sexual assault and other similar offenses can also seek restraining orders. A violation of this kind of order is a fourth degree crime if the violation is an independent crime. If the violation was not a crime by itself, the violation is a disorderly persons offense. A fourth degree crime is punished with up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000 while a disorderly persons offense is punished with up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000.
Defenses to Protective Order Violations
There are many potential defenses to accusations of a restraining order violation. In many cases, you may be able to claim that the violation was not a “knowing” or “intentional” violation. For instance, if the restraining order said to stay 500 feet from the protected person at all times, seeing them at a movie theater or the mall might not be intentional and should not count as a violation.
In any case, you may also need a defense attorney to protect you from additional criminal charges if the acts that violated the restraining order were also independent crimes.
Contact Our Atlantic City Restraining Order Violation Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation
If you were accused of violating a protective order for witness protection, domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault, contact an attorney immediately. These kinds of restraining order violations are considered criminal offenses and can lead to substantial jail time and high fines. To schedule a free legal consultation on your case, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych’s Atlantic City violation of protective order lawyers today at (609) 616-4956.