For victims of acts of domestic violence, one of the most powerful tools at their disposal is to file for a restraining order against the alleged perpetrator. In most states, including here in New Jersey, violating such a restraining order is a crime in and of itself, allowing the police to actually be able to take proactive action to prevent domestic violence as opposed to just waiting around for it to occur. If you have had a temporary or permanent restraining order filed against you in the state of New Jersey, even a minor violation, such as being within the vicinity of the individual you are restrained from being in contact with, can lead to serious penalties for you, including jail time.
Below, our experienced Atlantic City violation of protective orders lawyer at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych explain how restraining orders work, when you can go to jail for violating one, and how we can help you prevent that from happening.
When Can Somebody Get a Restraining Order Against Me in New Jersey?
A person can make an application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) if someone they live with, previously lived with, or have or previously had a qualifying relationship with commits one of the following acts against them: harassment, assault, terroristic threats, criminal mischief, kidnapping, burglary, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, false imprisonment, criminal restraint, criminal trespass, lewdness, stalking, homicide, robbery, criminal coercion, cyber-harassment, or any crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury. The alleged victim can either make a report themselves based on a recent event or, after they have called the police on someone, will be asked by the officers if they wish to file for a TRO against their alleged abuser. It is not necessary for the alleged abuser to have been convicted of any crime in order for the restraining order to be granted.
Once a TRO has been imposed against you, the Superior Court, Family Division must hold a hearing within 10 days in order to make a decision about whether or not this will be converted into a final restraining order. The judge at this hearing will base their decision on arguments from both sides about whether or not there is a “preponderance of the evidence” to suggest that a predicate act of domestic violence occurred that met the legal standard for a restraining order to be issued. If you fail to appear for this hearing, the order will automatically be entered against you.
It is vital that you retain a skilled domestic violence defense lawyer or restraining order violation defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych as soon as possible after the TRO is issued against you so that we can have time to prepare for this hearing and craft the best possible argument to convince the judge that the final restraining order should not be imposed. If the order is issued, it is permanent, meaning that it will remain in effect until one of the parties takes the issue back to court to try to get the order quashed.
What Are the Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order in New Jersey?
Depending on the situation, the restraining order issued against you may have a number of requirements to it, including staying a certain amount of distance away from the alleged victim at all times as well as refraining from any and all communication with them, whether in person or electronic, even communication through third parties. As noted above, violating either a TRO or a final restraining order is a criminal offense it and of itself, and comes with the risk of additional penalties. This means that it is possible, and even likely in some instances, that you will go to jail for violating a restraining order in New Jersey.
The penalties you can face for a conviction related to violating a restraining order vary depending on whether or not you committed another crime in the course of your violation. For example, if you show up to the home of someone who has a restraining order against you and assault them, you will be charged with assault and a restraining order violation. The penalties for the restraining order violation alone, a fourth-degree offense in these circumstances, include up to 18 months in prison and up to 10,000 in fines. If you do not commit a new crime in the course of your violation, the charge will be a disorderly persons offense punishable by up to 6 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. For a second or further violation, a conviction will be penalized by a minimum of 30 days in jail.
Can Hiring a Lawyer for Violating a Restraining Order Help Me Avoid Jail Time in NJ?
After a violation is reported, you will typically be arrested and held in the local jail until a detention hearing can be held where the judge will decide if and how you can be released while the charges against you are resolved. Our skilled New Jersey restraining order violation defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych for a restraining order violation hearing will work to get you released from jail quickly and then turn our attentions to getting the charge dismissed. We understand the best defenses we can make on your behalf, such as the fact that you were never properly notified of the existence of the restraining order or the fact that your violation was unintentional, such as unknowingly passing by the alleged victim in a crowded shopping mall. We will leave no stone unturned fighting for you to be found not guilty of the violation and preventing you from facing the most serious consequences like jail time.
If You Have Been Charged, Call Our Skilled New Jersey Restraining Order Violation Defense Lawyers Today
Violating a restraining order can lad to serious repercussions, including jail time. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our battle-tested New Jersey criminal defense attorneys for a restraining order violation hearing have years of experienced successfully defending our clients charged with these types of violations in courts throughout the state. We will work to bring your matter to the best possible resolution and keep you from facing severe consequences like a prison sentence. Call our firm today at (609) 616-4956 for a free consultation.