When a family experiences domestic violence, the first recourse of the victim is to obtain a restraining order. Restraining orders prevent a person from interacting with a certain person or their family, and can frequently interfere in matters of custody that may have already been agreed upon. In New Jersey, violating a restraining order can occur through actions that may seem simple or innocuous. When this happens a person can find themselves facing criminal charges. In New Jersey, crimes fall into one of three categories: indictable crimes, disorderly person offenses, and petty disorderly person offenses.
Violating A Restraining Order
Criminal contempt charges result from violating a restraining order. A conviction on these charges can potentially result in a number of adverse consequences in a person's life. If the violation of the restraining order was particularly serious, criminal charges in the fourth degree may result, in addition to whatever criminal charges may stem from the violation, such as assault.
Typical violations include:
- Entering the plaintiff's residence: Restraining orders typically contain language that prevents a defendant from entering the plaintiff's residence, and may even demand that a defendant is a certain distance away. Defendants may find themselves in violation while trying to get to work or recover property from the plaintiff.
- Appearing in areas restricted by the order: Similar to the restriction of the defendant from entering or being within a certain distance of a plaintiff's residence, at times the restraining order may place other restrictions on the defendant's physical location, such as not being able to be close to the plaintiff's place of work or a child's school. This can interfere with a defendant's ability to maneuver around town.
- Subjecting the plaintiff to further violence: If a defendant engages in activity that can be perceived as domestic violence, depending on the circumstances, criminal charges may be involved.
- Violating provisions related to parenting time and custody: Many families that experience domestic violence may already have standing custody or parenting agreements. The court may put certain provisions on these, and if the defendant does not adhere to them, they will be in violation of the order.
- Contacting the plaintiff: At times, restraining orders will preclude the defendant from any and all contact with the plaintiff. Attempting to contact the plaintiff, even as an honest mistake may be considered a violation.
- Failing to compensate the defendant: Certain restraining orders can demand the defendant to compensate or support the defendant. This can be monetary, or it can be as simple as returning certain property. Failing to do so may result in violation and action from the court against the defendant.
Many times, a defendant may not be aware of, nor intended on, committing any act that was in violation of the restraining order. Restraining orders can heavily interfere with several different aspects of a defendant's life. If you or a loved one is involved in a domestic violence case, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.