Final Protective Orders for Sex Crime Victims in New Jersey
Newark Final Protective Order Lawyers
As the name suggests, a final protective order in New Jersey is a permanent civil order of protection for a victim of a sex crime. According to the NJ Sexual Assault Survivors Protection Act (SASPA), if a person files an application for an order of protection after an alleged act of nonconsensual sexual contact, a judge will determine if a temporary protective order should issue. If a temporary sexual assault restraining order is issued, a final hearing must be held within 10 days.
It is important to note that a sex crime protective order hearing is civil in nature, as opposed to criminal. If criminal charges have been filed against the defendant, this is a separate legal proceeding that will be held in a different venue. Hearings for final protective orders are held in the Superior Court, Family Division in the county where the temporary order was issued.
Final Protective Order Hearings in NJ: Sexual Assault Survivors Protection Act
Because a protective order hearing is a civil proceeding, the standard of proof is a “preponderance of the evidence.” This is a lesser burden that a criminal case, which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to obtain a final order of protective, the victim must prove that it is “more likely than not” that the defendant committed or attempted to commit a sexual offense against them, and there is a risk to the victim’s safety or well-being.
During the hearing, the victim will testify and then the defendant is entitled to testify and/or have their lawyer cross-examine the victim. Your attorney can help you gather any evidence that strengthens your case, including medical records, photos, emails, text messages, social media posts, etc. You can also present witnesses who can testify to the sequence of events. The court will not hear any evidence related to the victim’s clothing at the time of the offense or the victim’s sexual history.
When deciding whether to issue a final protective order in a sex crime case, the judge will consider the following factors, as well as any others deemed relevant:
- The occurrence of one or more acts of nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, or lewdness, or any attempt at such conduct, against the alleged victim; and
- The possibility of future risk to the safety or well-being of the alleged victim.
The judge will not refuse to issue a final protective order if:
- The victim was intoxicated
- The victim did not sustain physical injuries
- The victim did not flee to prevent the sexual offense; or
- The victim did not file a police report
If the judge finds sufficient evidence to support a final protective order, this order will remain in place permanently unless a judge removes it at a later date. The victim can request to remove a permanent protective order, at which point there will be a new hearing before a judge. Additionally, if the defendant submits a motion to vacate the protective order in the future, the victim can contest this request.
Final Protective Order Attorneys for Sexual Assault Survivors in NJ
If you are scheduled to appear for a final protective order hearing in New Jersey, it is essential to have an attorney representing you during these proceedings, as the process is complex and the stakes extremely high. For additional information, contact the Tormey Law Firm at (908)-336-5008 to speak with an experienced New Jersey protective order lawyer. To find support for sexual assault survivors in New Jersey, visit the NJ Coalition Against Sexual Assault.