Facing a restraining order can be difficult. With the dozens of possible restrictions the order could place on your life, it is understandable that people violate restrictions. Unfortunately, police, prosecutors, and the courts take restraining order violations very seriously. Violating any court order can worsen the consequences you might already face and holds additional consequences of its own.
If you have been accused of violating a restraining order in Ocean City, NJ, talk to an attorney right away. The New Jersey defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent people accused of violating restraining orders and work to help them retain their freedom and get unnecessary restraining orders revoked. Contact our firm today for help with your restraining order case.
What Counts as a Restraining Order Violation in New Jersey?
New Jersey has two general types of restraining orders: temporary restraining orders (TROs) and final restraining orders (FROs). As the names imply, temporary orders are given on a short-term basis and expire if they are not renewed. These orders may be granted in emergency situations by a court with only an ex-parte hearing. This means only the petitioner who requests the protective order gets to speak and the defendant is not even notified of the hearing. Because these orders can come into effect very quickly and without a chance to defend yourself, they do not last long. Within 10 days of that initial filing and emergency petition, the court must give the defendant a chance to defend against the restraining order.
A final restraining order is only granted after both sides have the opportunity to be heard in court. That means you have a chance to go to court with a lawyer and argue against the order. If it is granted, despite your lawyers objections, then you must follow what it says. Often, even technical violations can count as a full violation the court could punish you for.
Restraining orders must fit the situation related to the order and are only issued for protection. Most domestic violence restraining orders are focused on protecting people who are dating, have dated, or live together. This means, when spouses and significant others seek restraining orders against their live-in partner, the order works to kick the defendant out of the house. Orders can also create other rules and restrictions regarding:
- Protection from violence
- Parenting time and custody
- Counseling and psychological evaluation
- Restricting the defendant from going to the petitioner’s school, job, home, etc.
- Communication and contact with petitioner
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Possession of personal property (e.g. cars, checkbooks, keys, etc)
- Child support
- Temporary child custody
- Supervision by police for retrieving personal belongings
- Monitoring and supervision
- Revoking weapon ownership rights
- Preventing specific crimes (e.g. stalking)
- Animal ownership
- Other appropriate rules
Violating or disobeying any term of your restraining order, no matter how slight, could be grounds to allege a restraining order violation.
New Jersey Punishments for Restraining Order Violation
Violating a restraining order is very serious. First, when the petitioner calls the police to report a restraining order violation, police are required to arrest the defendant immediately. Like any arrest, this can only be done if the police have enough evidence that you violated the order. This “probable cause” can be challenged in court. If the police do not have enough belief that you violated the order, the petitioner could separately file a contempt allegation with the court.
“Contempt” is the legal name for the violation of any court order. There are independent penalties for contempt, listed under N.J.S.A. § 2C:29-9. Specifically, contempt is itself a fourth degree crime punished by up to 18 months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. If the court order is specifically a domestic abuse court order, the contempt charges are reduced to a disorderly persons offense if they would not independently constitute a crime (e.g. violating a term requiring you to seek anger management classes). Disorderly persons offenses are punished with up to six months in jail and fines up to $1,000.
If the conduct that violates the order is a crime in and of itself, such as assault, you can also face punishment for that crime. There might also be extra penalties associated with this crime for repeatedly victimizing the same person or for victim or witness intimidation. A judge may also look poorly upon your violation at sentencing for a related crime.
Defense Attorney for Restraining Orders
The lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych work to help defend accusations of restraining order violations. Because violating any restraining order has the potential of jail time and large fines, as well as other penalties, it is important to talk to a lawyer. For a free consultation on your restraining order violation case, call (609) 800-2942 today.