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Shocking Ways a Final Restraining Order can Affect Your Life

Published: March 31, 2024

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You May be Shocked to Learn the Unintended Effects of a Restraining Order in NJ

Ways a Final Restraining Order can Affect Your Life in NJWhen relationships erode, violence may erupt, causing one party to seek legal protection from the other through the courts. A restraining order often seems logical, especially when two people no longer wish to be in a relationship. However, both parties to a protective order may need to realize the full extent of hardship such an order can cause in their lives. If you are the person subject to a final restraining order, you may think your only obligation is to stay away from your ex without realizing the total consequences of a restraining order. And when it comes to restraining orders in New Jersey, what you don’t know can hurt you.

#1 Violating the Order is Against the Law

First, a restraining order is a legal mandate. That means that a violation of the order is a crime. So, when the protected person files a complaint with the police for a protective order violation, the criminal court may issue a warrant for your arrest. Once arrested, a judge determines whether a violation occurred and, if so, the punishment for the violation, known as contempt of court. Judges do not take it lightly when a defendant disobeys any order, let alone a restraining order.

Depending on the determination in your case, a judge could convict you of contempt, which is a fourth degree indictable crime, punishable by 18 months in prison and a $10,000.00 fine, or a disorderly persons offense, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. The degree of a contempt charge is determined by the conduct, meaning a text message may lead to a disorderly persons offense, but an offense that violates the restraining order and is also a criminal offense, like harassment, can lead to fourth degree charges.

Further, a violation that is also a domestic violence crime, such as simple assault, criminal mischief, or stalking, may warrant additional criminal charges. A second violation means no less than 30 days in jail. Worse yet, a final restraining order is permanent, so you may violate the order by a simple text, phone call, or chance meeting in person for years unless and until the order is terminated in the Superior Court order after a formal request by either party.

#2 You Appear in the Domestic Violence Registry

When you are the defendant named in a final restraining order, you are fingerprinted, photographed, and placed on the state and national Domestic Violence Registry. In that way, the courts and law enforcement can readily contact you if necessary. So, law enforcement can track you down when your ex reports a violation of the restraining order. The registry is for courts and law enforcement only, but any criminal charges show on a standard background check.

#3 Traveling can be Challenging

Additionally, you may only know the impact of having your name on the registry once you try to fly out of the state or country. Airport personnel may detain you with questions, causing you discomfort and delays. You may miss your flights or connections, making vacations, getaways, or even work travel a nightmare.

#4 You Lose Your Second Amendment Rights

One of the biggest surprises that an FRO brings is the loss of firearms rights. A restraining order against you means you must give up your Firearms Identification Card, handgun carry permit, and any guns that you currently own or possess, regardless of whether you bought them, used them for hunting or target shooting, or inherited them. You must give up all weapons to law enforcement to prevent future domestic violence acts, and you are no longer eligible to purchase, carry, or have guns or other weapons in your possession under New Jersey law. There are limited exceptions for some people acting in the course of their duties in the army, navy, police department, National Guard, or other law enforcement and military personnel.

#5 It Could Jeopardize Your Custody Situation

The most impactful consequence of a restraining order is the one affecting children. A final restraining order not only forbids contact with the ex-spouse, girlfriend, or parent of your child, but it often extends to children living with the protected party. So, if you have children with the plaintiff, your child custody order may not help you maintain contact with your children. Moreover, a restraining order may affect the outcome of your custody battle. A family law judge can order a risk assessment to determine an appropriate custody order that is safe for your children.

#6 Long-Term Financial Impacts

Finally, a court issuing a restraining order forbids a defendant from contacting the plaintiff but may make other orders, such as child support, exclusive use of the family residence for the plaintiff, and mandatory counseling for the defendant. A court may order anger management counseling or, if applicable, drug and alcohol counseling and mental health evaluations. The time and cost of attending these sessions or courses can be significant.

Prevent the Unintended Consequences of a Restraining Order in New Jersey

With so many potentially costly and life-changing consequences of a restraining order, you should consult a domestic violence lawyer in New Jersey before fighting one on your own. Restraining orders begin with Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO), where the judge can set the terms from the start, including no contact and other restraints. Ten days later, the Final Restraining Order (FRO) hearing occurs, where the plaintiff and defendant can present evidence supporting or contradicting the need for an FRO. This is where an attorney experienced with TROs and FROs can play a pivotal role.

Our New Jersey restraining order attorneys can present evidence supporting your position regarding the FRO and cross-examine the other party and their witness to discredit their testimony or documentary evidence. We can also advocate for changes in the TRO that interfere with child custody or better yet, help you get it dismissed altogether. Most importantly, our legal team can convince a judge that a permanent restraining order is unnecessary.

Restore Your Rights by Getting it Lifted

If you want to remove a permanent restraining order, our lawyers can assist with showing the court that it is no longer needed. From the outset of the process to dissolve a restraining order, an experienced attorney at our firm can help you file pleadings with the court to terminate the FRO. A plaintiff may cooperate to terminate the FRO, but a defendant may also convince a court the order is no longer necessary based on compelling reasons.

Appeal an FRO Decision

After the issuance of an FRO, we can also potentially appeal a decision regarding an FRO, to challenge improprieties or errors made by the judge. However, there is limited time to file an appeal after the issuance of a permanent restraining order, so you need to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to determine if you have grounds for an appeal.

Determine Your Restraining Order Options with a New Jersey Attorney

Do not hesitate to get the help you need. Sit down with a domestic violence and restraining order lawyer at The Tormey Law Firm to determine your strategy and options. Domestic violence allegations have severe consequences that affect everyone involved, so be sure you have the appropriate legal advocate on your side to help you avoid getting taken advantage of and unfairly victimized in a restraining order action. Speak with an attorney about your restraining order case at (908)-336-5008. We provide confidential free consultations seven days a week.

Filed under: Final Restraining Order, Restraining Order Case Issues

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With offices in Hackensack, Morristown, Newark, Middletown, and New Brunswick, our lawyers can represent you anywhere in New Jersey and are available immediately to assist you at (908)-336-5008

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Hackensack, NJ 07601

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Morristown, NJ 07960

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Newark, NJ 07102

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for a free initial consultation Contact the Tormey Law Firm

Travis J. Tormey is a distinguished member of the legal community and a respected legal resource on domestic violence. He has been featured in a variety of prominent publications and media outlets, including CBS radio, Aol News, the Asbury Park Press,, and the Daily Record. Mr. Tormey has also been recognized as one of the the top criminal attorneys under 40 years of age by the National Trial Lawyers Association and the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys. Whether representing victims or the wrongly accused, Travis remains passionately committed to protecting the rights of the innocent.

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The Tormey Law Firm LLC handles restraining order cases in Bergen County (Hackensack), Morris County (Morristown), Passaic County (Paterson), Union County (Elizabeth), Hudson County (Jersey City), Middlesex County (New Brunswick), Somerset County (Somerville), Sussex County (Newton), Essex County (Newark), Hunterdon County (Flemington), Mercer County (Trenton), Monmouth County (Freehold), Warren County (Belvidere), Ocean County (Toms River), Burlington County (Mount Holly), and throughout NJ.

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