Mercer County is one of New Jersey's counties located in close proximity to Pennsylvania. The county is home to New Jersey's state capitol and is populated by over 370,000 residents. The Mercer County Superior Court handles all legal matters within the county, including matters of Family Law. The court's Family Division is where families may seek out legal measures for custody, divorce, and measures to resolve issues of domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Cases In Mercer County, New Jersey
More often than not, domestic violence cases involve one party filing a restraining order against another. The filing must be done in Mercer County's Superior Court. The person who initiates the filing will be known as the plaintiff, while the other party will be known as a defendant. New Jersey has two types of restraining orders: ex parte restraining orders and final restraining orders. Ex parte restraining orders are issued to plaintiffs in the absence of the defendant, while a final restraining order can only be issued following a full hearing. Ex parte restraining orders are typically issued in situations where a judge believes that a plaintiff is in danger of or is currently experiencing domestic violence. These orders are typically temporary and will be finalized upon the results of a hearing.
At a hearing for a final restraining order, both the plaintiff and defendant must attend to support their respective cases. Each side may be accompanied and represented by their own legal counsel. These hearings are legal matters, so the services of a skilled attorney can give a person an edge in the courtroom. Hearings will be decided by a judge, who will make a ruling based on what evidence and arguments are presented in the courtroom. If a restraining order is placed against a defendant, it can significantly impact all aspects of their life, including any ongoing custody matters. In addition, final restraining orders typically carry more specific provisions than an ex parte order.
Violating A Restraining Order
If a defendant violates a restraining order in Mercer County, they will be charged with the crime of criminal contempt. This crime essentially means that a person is in violation of a court order, and can be punishable with both jail time and fines, depending on the situation. Criminal convictions can cause drastic changes in a person's life, especially if they have any standing custody orders or other Family Law related legal proceedings. A criminal conviction can result in grounds for a divorce or reduced, and possibly even lost, parenting time. However, violating certain terms of the restraining order, such as additional provisions, may not necessarily result in a conviction. Matters such as failing to compensate the plaintiff or failing to return property to the plaintiff may result in court action, but not necessarily criminal charges.
If you or a loved one is involved in a domestic violence case in Mercer County, New Jersey, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.