A Restraining Order prohibits identified persons from contacting or coming within a specific perimeter of the victim for an outlined period of time. Restraining orders are legal under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of New Jersey. They are proposed to protect a domestic violence victim and restrict any further domestic violence from occurring to said victim by the perpetrator. The defendant is also barred from visiting the residence or workplace of the plaintiff and contacting relevant persons, such as their family, roommates, etc. Because a restraining order is issued by the court, any contact during the order, even if reconciliation between the parties occurs, can potentially cause the defendant to face criminal charges.
What Types of Restraining Orders Are There?
In New Jersey, there are two different types of restraining orders – a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a final restraining order. A temporary ex parte restraining order can be issued immediately if the judge finds that your health, wellbeing, and/or life are at immense risk. At a TRO hearing, the victim will be granted the opportunity to testify in court, allowing for the introduction of evidence and witnesses to prove the abuser committed an act of domestic violence against them. This issued order will sustain until the hearing for a final restraining order, which typically occurs within 10 days of the issued TRO. If you cannot be physically present in court due to sufficiently urgent circumstances, a judge can issue a TRO upon your sworn complaint or testimony or the sworn complaint or testimony of a person who represents you if you are mentally/physically incapable of providing such. After a hearing where both parties have an opportunity to testify, present evidence, and bring forth witnesses, a judge can grant the victim a final restraining order. A final restraining order can only be terminated if one of the parties files a legal motion in court to end/modify the order and the judge agrees to the terms.
Who Can Get a Restraining Order?
Any of the following persons may file for a restraining order if an act of domestic violence was committed against them:
Someone who is or has dated the perpetrator
Someone who is expecting or has a child with the perpetrator
A current or former spouse of the perpetrator
A current or former household member of the perpetrator (must be at least 18 years old or be an emancipated minor)
Enforcing an Out-of-State Order in New Jersey
An out-of-state restraining order may be enforced in New Jersey so long as:
The court held jurisdiction over the case.
The abuser received notice of the order and was given the opportunity to testify in court. Note: the defendant did not NEED to be present in court, simply given the opportunity TO BE present.
Ex Parte TROs must give the defendant the opportunity to testify in court within a “reasonable time” of the order’s notice.
It was issued to prevent an act of domestic violence or to prevent the defendant from coming in close proximity with the plaintiff and/or contacting them and their loved ones.
Predicate Acts for Domestic Violence
The defendant may be charged with multiple acts of domestic violence for a TRO. However, the court must find enough grounds for only (1) offense for a final restraining order. The following are the predicate acts for domestic violence;
- Homicide (N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3)
- Sexual Assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2)
- Kidnapping (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1)
- Assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1)
- Harassment (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4)
- Stalking (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10)
- Terroristic Threats (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3)
- False Imprisonment (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-3)
- Burglary (N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2)
- Robbery (N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1)
- Lewdness (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4)
- Cyber-harassment (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4.1)
- Criminal Mischief (N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3)
- Criminal Restraint (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-2)
- Criminal Coercion (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-5)
- Criminal Trespass (N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3)
- Criminal Sexual Contact (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3)
- Contempt of a domestic violence order that constitutes a crime or disorderly persons offense (N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9)
- Any other crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person protected under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of New Jersey