Domestic violence is neither a new problem, nor a small one. The New Jersey State Police reveal more than 63,000 domestic violence offenses were reported in a single recent year, with arrests made in just one-third of those cases. Meanwhile, The Press of Atlantic City reports a stunning 80 percent of New Jersey domestic violence criminal cases are dropped, most due to lack of evidence. That doesn’t mean these incidents aren’t happening, but they can be difficult to prove.
Arrests for domestic violence have also fallen statewide since legislators scrapped the cash bail system in an effort to reduce jail and prison overcrowding. For victims of domestic violence in New Jersey, that makes alternative avenues of relief, such as restraining orders (NJ Rev. Stat. § 2C:25-17) that much more important.
Sometimes referred to as orders of protection, these aren’t invulnerable, but they do offer important safeguards, including arrest and other means of legal recourse if the terms are violated.
When to File for a Restraining Order
There are two types of domestic violence protection orders: temporary restraining orders (TROs) and final restraining orders (FROs).
Both can only be issued by a judge, either incidental to arrest or upon request of an alleged victim. In either case, it’s a good idea to have an East Brunswick domestic violence lawyer make the case for you, particularly if you’re doing so during a divorce or breakup. As numerous studies note, separation is a well-known to spur escalation of intimate partner violence.
Note that “domestic violence” for purposes of a restraining order is not solely defined as a physical attack. It can also mean criminal trespassing, verbal/emotional abuse, threats, stalking, criminal mischief and harassment.
Protecting yourself and your family is our top priority.
What Do Restraining Orders Accomplish?
Temporary restraining orders are short-term, pre-trial injunctions. They are issued when a judge has been convinced – by affidavit or verified complaint – that action is necessary for the safety of the alleged victim/person requesting the injunction to protect their safety. It’s a stop-gap measure that may be converted to a final restraining order after a formal hearing.
As noted in in NJ Rev. Stat. § 2C:25-26, courts can issue TROs to:
- Prohibit the subject of the order from having contact with the alleged victim or entering the victim’s residence, school, place of employment or to harass the victim’s friends, family or co-workers.
- Prohibit one from having contact with any minor child or animal residing in the alleged victim’s home.
- Prohibiting one from possessing any firearm or weapon and ordering the seizure of any such weapon anywhere the judge has reasonable cause to suspect one might be located.
The judge might also issue an order of support or custody in the event those involved are married, living together or share a child.
Temporary restraining orders can be issued ex parte, meaning solely on the word of the accuser, without the accused present or given prior notice.
These orders don’t automatically become void if you decide to reconcile, so it’s important for everyone to follow them unless/until they are lifted. Most TROs last 10 days, at which point a hearing for an FRO should be considered.
Final restraining orders are more detailed, require more proof and can be in put in place indefinitely (or until one party asks for it to be lifted). Evidence that a TRO has been violated can be used as evidence in an FRO hearing, but that’s not the only consideration.
FROs often contain provisions similar to those in TROs, but they are more in-depth and they can be in place indefinitely. Some may even require the subject to pay for reasonable losses resulting from the abuse (lost wages, travel/moving expenses, property damage, counseling fees, pain and suffering, etc.).
If you are thinking of filing for a restraining order, our New Jersey Family Law team can help.
To learn more about domestic violence restraining orders in New Jersey, contact Rozin | Golinder Law today at (732) 810-0034.