In the wake of many domestic violence murders committed despite active restraining orders, many critics and legislators in New Jersey are pushing for more protections than “paper” restraining orders.
In fact, Lisa’s Law, which is being sponsored by Assemblyman Troy Singleton, would allow for the GPS monitoring of repeat violators of restraining orders in New Jersey. The proposed monitoring system would alert the police and the victim if the perpetrator comes within a defined proximity of the victim or their home. According to Singleton, “Our whole idea is to turn more victims into survivors and that’s what we’re fighting to do and we’re hopeful we get it done.” Previously, the proposed law was passed twice by the NJ legislature, only to be vetoed by Governor Chris Christie because of lacking technology and resources. The law is now making its third pass through the legislature.
Under current NJ domestic violence laws, the violation of either a temporary restraining order or a final restraining order is a criminal offense. Specifically, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9(b) sets forth that a person is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree if that person purposely or knowingly violates any provision in a restraining order when the conduct that constitutes the violation is a separate crime or disorderly persons offense. In all other cases, the knowing violation of a restraining order is a disorderly persons offense. That is, when an action constitutes a violation of a restraining order and that action is a crime or a disorderly persons offense in itself, then the defendant will be charged with a fourth degree crime. For example, if a person violates a restraining order by making a single phone call, text message, or social media post, then the defendant will be charged with a disorderly persons offense as long as the contact does not implicate an independent crime such as harassment, stalking, or any other offense.
Contempt charges for violating a restraining order are taken very seriously by the New Jersey courts. In fact, the penalties for a fourth degree contempt charge include a $10,000 fine and 18 months in prison. The penalties for a disorderly persons offense of contempt are up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. Moreover, according to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-30, any defendant convicted of a second or subsequent disorderly persons domestic violence contempt offense shall, without exception, serve a mandatory minimum jail term of not less than 30 days.
If you have been accused of violating a temporary restraining order (TRO) or a final restraining order (FRO) in New Jersey and you are facing contempt charges, you should contact the experienced contempt defense attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm. We have successfully defended criminal contempt charges across New Jersey and we are ready to defend you against contempt allegations in court.