Restraining Order Attorneys in New Jersey
With offices in Hackensack, New Jersey
If you or a loved one are involved in a restraining order hearing and need legal assistance, you’ve come to the right place. The NJ restraining order lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm LLC have literally resolved hundreds of restraining order cases in every county in New Jersey. This experience and expertise allows our lawyers to understand the complicated legal process concerning restraining orders and achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients.
If you are a plaintiff in a restraining order hearing, we can help you.
If you are a defendant in a restraining order hearing, we can help you.
Here is some basic information regarding restraining orders that can assist you in understanding the restraining order process in New Jersey. For additional information, please contact one of our experienced restraining order attorneys anytime for immediate assistance at (908)-336-5008. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge.
Temporary Restraining Orders
A temporary restraining order (TRO) can be issued by a Superior Court Judge in NJ when he or she believes a predicate act of domestic violence has occurred against a protected party. If the police are contacted after court hours (4 pm), then a Municipal Court Judge will typically be contacted regarding the issuance of the temporary restraining order. The final hearing is typically scheduled within 10 days of the issuance of the TRO.
A restraining order is a civil proceeding in New Jersey, it is not criminal.
However, if a Final Restraining Order (FRO) is placed on you, this can have serious collateral consequences including the following:
- You will be fingerprinted and placed in a database for domestic violence offenders.
- You can not own firearms and must forfeit any firearms you have previously owned.
- You may be stopped at airports, customs, etc. and law enforcement will check to ensure that you are not traveling with or near the alleged victim.
- Your child custody and visitation (if any) can be affected.
- You can be prevented from attending places where the alleged victim attends such as schools, churches, relatives homes, etc.
This is important information for both a plaintiff and a defendant to know. Sometimes plaintiffs decide that they do not want a Final Restraining Order (FRO) because of all the serious consequences that are placed on a defendant if issued. Conversely, and obviously, if a FRO is necessary to protect a plaintiff’s safety and well being then he or she should move forward and pursue a FRO in court. Further, in some cases an agreement can be reached called “civil restraints” which resolves the case outside of court without the need for a trial or hearing.
Restraining orders are handled in the Family Division of the Superior Court of the county in which the parties reside. In order for the court to have jurisdiction, the parties must have been in a dating relationship, had children together, or resided together at some point in their lives. The standard of proof, because it is a civil matter, is “by a preponderance of evidence” which is basically “more likely than not”. This is a lower standard than a criminal case which is “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
The Final Restraining Order Trial
At a final restraining order hearing, the Plaintiff goes first and has the burden of proof. He or she will typically testify and admit any evidence they have to prove that there was an act of domestic violence, there is a prior history of domestic violence, and the restraining order is required to protect them from future acts of violence. Some evidence that is typically utilized in these hearings includes but is not limited to:
- Witnesses (sometimes police officers)
- Emails, voicemails, text messages, social media posts or messages
- Police reports
- Hospital records
- Photos of injuries or damage to property
Both parties can be represented by an attorney or represent themselves. Because it is a civil case and not criminal, there are no public defenders available to handle these cases. If a party represents themselves, he or she will be held to the same rules of evidence as an attorney, which is why it is very important to have a lawyer handle this case for you if you can afford it.
Once the Plaintiff testifies and admits their evidence, the defendant (or their counsel) will have an opportunity to cross examine them. Once the Plaintiff is finished with their case, it is the Defendant’s turn to testify (if they choose) and produce their own evidence (if any). Remember, the Plaintiff has the burden of proof and the defendant does not have to prove anything.
The Judge’s Decision
After the hearing is over and both parties have rested, the Judge will issue their ruling. There are only 2 possibilities:
- The temporary restraining order is dismissed. The Plaintiff failed to prove that there was a predicate act of domestic violence, a prior history of domestic violence, or that they are in reasonable fear for their safety beyond a preponderance of the evidence. Once the restraining order is dismissed, all of the prior restraints on the defendant are vacated. If the parties live together, the defendant can return home. However, it is important to keep in mind that if the plaintiff alleged a new act of domestic violence, then a new restraining order can be issued. If weapons were seized based on the TRO, the defendant can contact the county prosecutor’s office about their return. They may try to forfeit the weapons even if the TRO was dismissed.
- The final restraining order is granted. The Judge found significant credible evidence and all of the elements were proven by a preponderance of the evidence. The Defendant will be fingerprinted and placed into a NJ database for domestic violence offenders. He or she can not own or possess firearms. The defendant will be prohibited from any contact with the plaintiff, prohibited from their residence and place of employment, and can be restricted from contacting any other protected parties (such as the plaintiff’s parents, siblings, even sometimes their children). This restraining order could effect employment opportunities, professional licenses, traveling in and out of the United States, and immigration status for the defendant.
If a temporary restraining order (TRO) or final restraining order (FRO) is violated then a defendant will be arrested and charged criminally for contempt. On a second violation, the defendant must serve mandatory time in the County jail.
Restraining orders in New Jersey are permanent and never expire. However, you may be eligible to file an appeal if a final restraining order was issued against you. In addition, after some time passes, you can file a motion to vacate the final restraining order based on a change in circumstances such that the restraining order is no longer necessary.
Contact our Morristown office for a free initial consultation
The NJ restraining order attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm LLC have been representing clients at restraining order hearings for many years. For additional information regarding restraining orders in New Jersey, please continue to explore this website and watch Mr. Tormey’s videos. You also can speak to him directly for a free consultation anytime at (908)-336-5008. We look forward to hearing from you