A restraining order is a form of protective order that is issued by the court. Restraining orders prohibit a particular individual—who is named in the order—from doing certain things, such as coming within a specified physical distance of another named individual for a set period of time.
Restraining orders may be issued by the court as part of a civil case, a family law case, or to protect a victim of domestic violence. A restraining order can be requested “ex parte,” which is when one party asks the court to take action without telling the other party. If a restraining order is granted in this manner, then the other party is given the opportunity to present his or her side of the story at a hearing.
Under What Circumstances Are Restraining Orders Issued In New Jersey?
In New Jersey, any individual may be eligible for a restraining order if an act of domestic violence is committed against them by any of the following individuals:
- Former spouse
- Household member (if 18 years of age or older or an emancipated minor)
- Former household member (if 18 years of age or older or an emancipated minor)
- An individual you are currently dating
- An individual who you previously dated
- An individual with whom you have a child
- An individual with whom you are expecting a child
There are two types of restraining orders that can be issued in the Garden State: a temporary restraining order and a final restraining order. In order to receive a permanent restraining order, the plaintiff must demonstrate clear evidence of their risk of danger. Danger may include several behaviors and actions, which may include any of the following and more:
- Defendant threatening the plaintiff physically or verbally
- Defendant stalking the plaintiff, either in person, online, or via telephone
- The possibility that the plaintiff will suffer physical harm at the hands of the defendant
Because the definition of “danger” is not clearly defined by the courts and may include a multitude of behaviors, it is best to consult with an accomplished attorney who has extensive experience handling restraining order cases in New Jersey.
Temporary Restraining Orders In New Jersey
A temporary restraining order is designed to offer an individual immediate protection from another person. In New Jersey, a temporary restraining order usually lasts for a period of 10 days or until a restraining order hearing can be scheduled. At that hearing, the judge may decide to dismiss the temporary restraining order, extend the temporary restraining order, or replace the temporary restraining order with a final restraining order.
Final Restraining Orders
Final restraining orders are issued after a restraining order hearing, during which both parties share their sides of the story before a judge. A skilled attorney who has extensive knowledge of New Jersey's laws regarding protective orders will assist with preparation for this hearing so that a strong case is presented. At this hearing, a judge considers whether the individual who is being protected by the restraining order—the plaintiff—still remains in danger from the other party. No jury is involved in this type of hearing.
If the judge determines that the plaintiff is no longer at risk of harm from the other individual, then the judge may dismiss the temporary restraining order. If, on the other hand, the judge determines that the plaintiff remains at risk of harm, then the judge may either extend the temporary restraining order or replace it with a final restraining order.
In New Jersey, a final restraining order does not have an expiration date. Once a final restraining order has been issued, even if the plaintiff then chooses to drop the charges against the defendant, or both parties reconcile, the restraining order does not automatically expire, nor is it automatically dismissed. Instead, there is a detailed legal process that must be followed by both parties to modify or dismiss the restraining order. The plaintiff or the defendant must file a motion with the court to request that the judge change the final restraining order. In these cases, the restraining order can be modified or dismissed if certain criteria are met.
If the plaintiff files the motion to modify the restraining order, the plaintiff must clearly demonstrate to the judge that the defendant did not force or threaten them to request the dismissal. If the defendant files the motion for dismissal, the judge will consider several factors before making a decision. These may include the following and more:
- Whether the plaintiff remains fearful for their safety when in physical proximity to the defendant
- The plaintiff's views on the defendant's motion to dismiss
- Whether the defendant has violated the restraining order, and if so, the number of violations
- Whether the defendant has a substance abuse problem
If the defendant is also facing criminal charges related to the restraining order, those criminal charges still stand regardless of whether there is a dismissal of the restraining order.
Top-Rated Attorney For New Jersey Restraining Orders Helps Those Seeking Protection
Top-rated restraining order attorney Joseph D. Lento has unparalleled experience helping clients face the challenges associated with New Jersey restraining orders. Attorney Lento can help plaintiffs who are seeking protection from other individuals and also defendants who are accused. When your safety is in jeopardy, and you are fearful that another individual may cause you harm, you want someone by your side who understands how traumatic this situation may be. You also want someone who knows how to navigate the legal system to secure the protection you are entitled to under the law. The same is true if you are accused, whether wrongfully or if you made a mistake. Attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm is dedicated to advocating for his clients, having helped countless individuals needing or facing restraining orders in New Jersey. To learn more about how Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help your case, contact our Firm at 888-535-3686 or online to schedule a confidential consultation.