When someone takes a restraining order against you, it turns your life upside down. Depending on the order's details, you may have lost access to your home, custody of your children, and are forbidden to contact your former partner–and sometimes their close family members or friends–through any means. These restrictions may last indefinitely. Given these circumstances, keeping the restraining order a secret from those close to you is almost impossible. But what's the best way to tell them? Or break the news to your boss? Here's what you should know.
Be Straight With Family and Friends
In New Jersey, restraining orders are taken very seriously. Although the restraining order is not a crime, if you violate the order, even accidentally, you could be arrested for criminal contempt and jailed. You must refrain from being within the court-mandated distance from the protected person under all circumstances.
Carefully explain these limitations to friends and family and urge them to take the prohibitions seriously; otherwise, they could accidentally land you into legal trouble. For example, if you and the protected person end up at the same family event, you could be arrested even if you weren't aware that they would be there.
When telling family and friends, be prepared to answer their questions. They will likely ask questions such as:
- Did you abuse the protected person?
- How long will the order last?
- Do you now have a criminal record?
- Can you reconcile with the protected person?
- Can they contact the person on your behalf?
Have your answer ready in your mind and if you're unsure of a response, be sure to ask your lawyer. It is not appropriate, for example, for you to send a message to the protected party through another person. You should also refrain from answering questions concerning any related criminal matter, such as a domestic violence charge, as your response could compromise your defense.
Consider Whether to Tell Your Employer
Whether to tell your employer about the restraining order may vary depending on your unique circumstances. Again, a restraining order is not a criminal matter. Even jobs that require you to disclose your involvement in criminal cases are very unlikely to require you to inform your boss of a restraining order against you. You may decide to keep quiet if you think they aren't likely to find out, and it wouldn't jeopardize your standing at work, even if they did.
That said, you will need to tell your employer about the order if you work with the protected person. The employer may need to move you to another work area or even reassign you to a different department if working in your regular space violates the order's terms. When informing your boss, tell them only as much as they need to know to make the appropriate arrangements in the workspace. Stay calm during the conversation and reassure them that you intend to fully comply with the order and continue to perform your duties to the best of your ability. Give them no reason to believe that you may become violent, in the workplace or elsewhere.
If you are concerned that your employer may fire you because of the restraining order, you should talk to a lawyer.
Hire a Restraining Order Lawyer in New Jersey
A restraining order can affect your life in ways you have never considered. If someone has petitioned for a restraining order against you, speak to a domestic violence lawyer immediately. You must act quickly to ensure that your rights are protected. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have years of experience handling domestic violence cases and a strong track record of delivering results. Contact us today for a case consultation at (888) 535-3686.