Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
If you face a restraining order hearing, there is a lot more on the line than your relationship with the party seeking the order. When a court issues a permanent restraining order, your child custody rights can be affected, you must surrender any firearms you own, and your fingerprints will be put into a database of domestic violence offenders. Given this reality, it is imperative that anyone facing a domestic violence restraining order hearing reach out to an experienced attorney who can protect their interests and aggressively advocate on their behalf. At the Law Offices of Leon Matchin, we have more than a decade of experience helping clients clear their names and fend off the potentially life-changing effects of domestic violence restraining orders.What Are New Jersey Domestic Violence Restraining Orders?
A restraining order is a court order obtained from a New Jersey family court judge following allegations of domestic violence. Restraining orders prohibit you from making any contact with the person who obtained the order. While the process of obtaining a restraining order is civil in nature, any violation of a restraining order is a criminal offense.
Only “victims of domestic violence” can obtain a restraining order. Under New Jersey law, restraining orders are only issued when:
- The parties are or were in a dating relationship;
- The parties live or lived together; or
- The parties have a child in common.
When someone wants to get a restraining order, they first have to obtain a temporary restraining order. Usually, these are obtained at the Superior Court. The process of getting a temporary restraining order is fairly straightforward, as only the party complaining of abuse is present. If they can show that there was an incident of abuse or a history of abuse and that they are in need of protection, the court will grant the temporary order. However, the court will then schedule the final restraining order hearing, usually within ten days of the issuance of the temporary restraining order.
At a final restraining order hearing, both parties are present and can present evidence. Almost always, this involves the person seeking the order getting up on the stand to testify. However, there may be other evidence as well, such as text messages, emails, photographs of injuries, medical records and police reports. Neither party is entitled to a lawyer at the hearing because it is not a criminal matter; however, it is especially important for the defendant (the person against whom the order is sought) to have skilled legal representation.
Unlike in many other states, New Jersey domestic violence restraining orders are permanent once they are issued. Thus, it is essential to give the situation the attention it deserves, as your failure to act may result in the court granting a permanent restraining order against you.Can You Appeal the Granting of a Permanent Restraining Order?
Yes. If a judge issues a permanent restraining order against you, you have 45 days to appeal. However, to appeal successfully, you must identify a legal error that the judge made. If you lose the appeal, your only hope to get the order dismissed is by filing a Carfagno motion. A Carfagno motion is based on a significant change in circumstances that render the restraining order unnecessary. Usually, judges only grant Carfagno motions years after a restraining order was granted, when both parties have moved on with their lives, and there is no risk of negative contact.What Happens if I Violate a New Jersey Restraining Order?
While the process of obtaining a restraining order is a civil matter, the violation of a restraining order is a crime. Thus, if you are alleged to have violated a restraining order, you may be found in contempt of court. In most cases, contempt based on the violation of an order is a disorderly persons offense punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, if the violation involved a new crime (such as assaulting or threatening the alleged victim), you will face up to 18 months in state prison. Additionally, a second contempt conviction results in a mandatory 30 days in jail.Are You Facing a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Hearing?
If you were recently served with a temporary restraining order, now is the time to reach out to the Law Offices of Leon Matchin. Attorney Leon Matchin has over a decade of experience helping his clients avoid the consequences of domestic violence restraining orders. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, reach out to the Law Offices of Leon Matching today by calling (732) 887-2479. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.