Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order in New Jersey

A restraining order, sometimes referred to as a protection order, is a court order designed to protect individuals from harm or harassment by another person. Such an order establishes specific conditions that the subject of the order must abide by to ensure the protected individual’s safety.

Those who violate restraining orders in New Jersey can be charged with criminal offenses and may face severe penalties for their actions. Such penalties can include fines, prison sentences, mandatory counseling, court-ordered community service, among other restrictions. The penalties assessed in your case can vary depending on the circumstances surrounding your violation.

If you have been accused of violating a restraining order, seek support from our experienced Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych by dialing (609) 616-4956.

What Are the Consequences for Violating a Restraining Order in New Jersey?

When a restraining order is violated in New Jersey, the court takes the matter very seriously and can assess multiple types of penalties. For instance, the consequences for violating a restraining order can include costly fines, jail time, mandatory counseling, and various other restrictions on peoples’ freedoms. The penalties imposed will typically depend on the nature and severity of the violation at issue. Accordingly, it is crucial for those who are subject to restraining orders to fully understand the terms of their orders and adhere to them strictly. Otherwise, they can face serious ramifications.

Penalties for Violating a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

You can be charged with a criminal offense for violating a TRO in New Jersey. The type of offense levied against you can range from a disorderly persons offense to an indictable crime, depending on the circumstances of your case. If you are convicted of a disorderly persons offense, you may spend up to six months in jail and have to pay a maximum fine of $1,000. On the other hand, if you are convicted of a fourth degree crime, then you may be assessed a prison sentence of up to 18 months and a fine of up to $10,000.

Also, you can other penalties such as mandatory therapy or counseling, court-ordered community service, and the addition of more restrictions to your restraining order. After being accused of violating a TRO, our Avalon experienced criminal defense lawyers can help build your defense and avoid potential penalties.

Penalties for Violating a Final Restraining Order (FRO)

There are also serious penalties for violating a FRO in New Jersey. Such behavior will constitute a criminal offense and is typically met with a charge for a fourth-degree crime. As previously mentioned, if you are convicted of a fourth degree crime, then you may have to spend up to 18 months in prison and pay a maximum fine of $10,000. Those who violate FROs can also be ordered to attend counseling, perform community service, and abide by further restrictions added to their restraining orders.

It is worth noting that the penalties for violating an FRO do not drastically differ from the penalties for violating a TRO. Still, there are differences in how each offense will be treated by the courts. FRO violations will typically be considered fourth degree crimes. Meanwhile, TRO violations are more likely to be considered a disorderly persons offense. TRO violations are still considered very serious. Still, when evaluating a TRO violation, the court will likely consider the temporary nature of the order when determining appropriate penalties.

Penalties for First Time Restraining Order Offenses vs. Penalties for Repeated Offenses

The penalties issued for first time restraining order offenses can differ from the penalties assessed for repeated offense. Courts can account for the fact that first-time offenders may not have understood the gravity of their actions when they violated their restraining orders. While they can still face serious penalties, such penalties are typically less harsh than those levied against repeated offenders.

For example, repeated offenders often face more severe criminal penalties. The court will consider their history of non-compliance and disregard for the order when determining the charges to levy against them. Furthermore, repeated offenders may have to serve longer periods of mandatory counseling or therapy, increased community service requirements, and more expensive fines.

It is important to remember that the penalties imposed in a specific case, whether for a first-time or repeated offender, can still vary based on the unique circumstances of each case. Our legal team can help analyze the penalties you may face for your restraining order violation during your free case assessment.

What is Considered a Violation of a Restraining Order in New Jersey?

A violation of a restraining order occurs when an individual engages in behavior that goes against the terms and conditions outlined by their order. Accordingly, there are multiple forms of conduct that can be considered a violation of a restraining order in New Jersey.

Contacting the Protected Individual

First, you can be charged with violation of a restraining order if you attempt to contact the protected individual. There are multiple forms of prohibited contact. For example, you may violate your restraining order through in-person encounters, phone calls, text messages, emails, or any other form of electronic communication. Further, you can even be charged with violating your restraining order if you try to contact the protected individual through a third party.

Physical Proximity to the Protected Individual

Some restraining orders also prohibit the subject from being within a certain physical proximity to certain locations, such as the protected individual’s residence, place of business, school, or any other location mentioned in the applicable order. If you intentionally come into close proximity of protected locations, then you can be charged with violating your restraining order.

Harassment and Intimidation

Furthermore, you can also breach your restraining order by engaging in harassment or intimidation against the protected individual. Any conduct that causes the individual to fear for their safety or well-being can be considered a violation. For example, you may violate your restraining order by engaging in behavior such as stalking, surveilling, or threatening the protected person.

Property Damage and Trespassing

You may also violate your restraining order by damaging the protected individual’s personal property or trespassing onto their premises. As an example, if you vandalize the protected person’s home, then you may be charged with violating your restraining order. Furthermore, breaking into their home or entering their premises without permission can also be considered a violation.

Child Custody and Visitation

Finally, you can also disobey a restraining order by violating the provisions of the order that pertain to child custody, visitation rights, or parenting time. For instance, if your restraining order imposes specific limitations related to child custody or visitation, noncompliance with those limitations can result in you being charged with a criminal offense.

Can You Ignore a Restraining Order if You Have Reconciled with The Other Party?

No, you may not ignore a restraining order simply because you have reconciled with the other party. Restraining orders are considered to be legally binding court documents that have to be followed regardless of any change in the relationship between the involved parties. Once an order has been issued, it will stay in effect until it is either modified or terminated by the court.

If you ignore a restraining order, even with permission from the protected individual, then you can be charged with a criminal offense and may face severe consequences for your actions. It is crucial that you always adhere to the specific terms outlined by your restraining order until it is formally terminated. If you and a protected individual both wish to modify or terminate your order, then you should seek assistance from our legal team. We can file a formal request to the court on your behalf seeking the modification or termination you desire.

What Will the Court Consider When Determining the Penalties for a Violation of a Restraining Order in New Jersey?

The penalties imposed against you for a restraining order violation can vary between on several circumstances surrounding your case. Any of the following may be analyzed by the court when determining the consequences of such an offense:

Nature and Severity of the Violation

First, the court will likely look to the nature and severity of the violation at issue. Factors such as the level of contact or communication, degree of physical proximity, severity of harassment, and value of property damage may all be accounted for. During your free case evaluation, our team can help analyze the nature and severity of your violation so that you can know what types of penalties you may face.

Intent and Awareness

The court may also consider whether or not your violation was intentional or a result of a misunderstanding. The degree of knowledge and awareness you had regarding the terms and conditions of your restraining order can impact the severity of the penalties you are facing.

As an example, your restraining order may prohibit any form of communication with the protected person. If you mistakenly interpret the order as only applying to in-person communication and proceed to email the individual, then you may receive lighter penalties than those that would be assessed if your violation was deliberate.

Prior Violations or Criminal History

Furthermore, if you have a criminal history, that may be taken into account when determining the penalties for your violation. Specifically, if you have violated a restraining order in the past, then it is very likely that you will encounter more serious consequences for your actions. The courts typically treated repeated offenders with less leniency than those who have violated a restraining order for the first time.

Impact on the Protected Party

The impact your violation had on the protected individual is another factor that may be evaluated when assessing criminal penalties. For instance, if your violation caused the protected person to experience significant fear, harm, or distress, then you may face more serious consequences for your actions. Our legal team can help determine how the impact on the protected party may be viewed in your case.

Mitigating or Aggravating Factors

The court may also consider various mitigating or aggravating factors presented by involved parties. For example, these factors can include remorse, acceptance of responsibility, compliance with other aspects of your order, or efforts toward rehabilitation. On the other hand, aggravating factors might include threats, violence, or other harmful behaviors accompanying the violation.

Other Relevant Circumstances

Finally, there are multiple other circumstances that may be reviewed by the court when applicable. For instance, the relationship between the parties, the history of the relationship, the need for protection, and any other potential risks or vulnerabilities may be considered. During your free case review, we can help determine if there are any special circumstances that may be considered by the court when imposing criminal penalties.

If You Need Help with Your Criminal Case, Contact Our Law Firm Today

Get help from our experienced Wildwood, NJ criminal defense attorneys by calling Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.

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