Hamilton Township Restraining Order Violation Defense Attorney
Being accused of violating a restraining order can turn a bad situation even worse. When you have a restraining order against you, police and judges may already look favorably at any claims against you, and it may seem difficult to protect your rights. It is important to remember that the burden of proving your violation is on the person who holds the restraining order, and you have the right to hire an attorney to defend you.
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney on your restraining order case might help keep you out of jail. The New Jersey criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to defend you against accusations that you violated a restraining order and any associated criminal accusations you face. Call today for a free consultation.
New Jersey Protective Order Violation Lawyers
A protective order, also known as a restraining order, often falls into one of two types. Temporary restraining orders (TROs) work to protect a victim of crime or abuse for a limited period of time, whereas final restraining orders (FROs) last for a prolonged period – even years – until they are no longer necessary. Violating a TRO is just as serious as violating a FRO, and the consequences can be just as severe.
Courts have broad powers to set the terms of a restraining order. The ultimate goal of the order is to protect the person who petitions the court for protection (called the “petitioner”). Whether the request is because the petitioner was the victim of a crime or abuse, courts can set very controlling terms.
N.J.S.A. § 2C:25-29 authorizes a judge to craft an order with terms regarding any of the following:
- Further crime against the petitioner
- Your access to your own home
- Parenting time arrangements
- Reimbursing petitioner for injuries
- Counseling and psychological evaluations
- Ability to visit petitioner at home, work, or school
- Ability to communicate with petitioner
- Right to access certain property (e.g. cars, checkbooks, keys, etc.)
- Any other terms that will protect petitioner or their children
These powers are very broad, and courts can design virtually any restriction or requirement if the judge can tie it to keeping the petitioner safe. Violating any term in the order is serious and can lead to charges of contempt.
Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order in New Jersey
When the police are called because of a restraining order violation, they are required by law to automatically arrest you. Like any arrest, police still need probable cause to legally make an arrest – but they lose their discretion to let you go without an arrest. However, the petitioner could still personally submit a request with the court to find you in contempt.
Knowingly disobeying a restraining order in New Jersey is usually a fourth degree crime called “contempt.” A fourth degree crime is the lowest level of crime, but is still punishable by up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000.
If the restraining order was specifically based on domestic violence, there are restrictions as to when the violation is a fourth degree crime. If the conduct that violates the order is independently a crime, the contempt charges are still a fourth degree crime. If the conduct was not itself a crime, the contempt charges are a disorderly persons offense instead. This is a lighter form of punishment that may not even technically constitute a “crime.” Still, this is punishable by up to six months in jail and fines up to $1,000. For multiple violations of an order, the punishment is increased.
This punishment stacks on top of the potential punishments you might face related to any other crimes. For instance, if the restraining order came about because of a crime the petitioner accused you of committing or you allegedly violated the order by committing another crime, you can still face punishment for those crimes. In fact, the sentencing judge may use the fact that you violated a court order when it comes time for sentencing. You may also face additional charges or penalties for committing multiple crimes against the same victim. Moreover, violating the order or contacting the victim of a previous crime could be considered victim/witness intimidation, leading to more charges or higher sentences.
New Jersey Restraining Order Attorney
If you were accused of violating a restraining order in Hamilton, New Jersey, it is important to talk to a criminal defense attorney about your case. A restraining order violation goes beyond the realm of family law or a civil dispute and can actually put you at risk of losing your freedom and facing huge criminal fines. The criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to help. Call (609) 616-4956 today for a free consultation on your case.