What are my Rights to Self Defense if Someone Violates a Restraining Order?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jun 23, 2023 | 0 Comments

New Jersey takes a harsh stance on domestic violence. The court system deals with violent acts or crimes conducted within a household or on members. The typical action for domestic violence is for the victim to seek a restraining order that forces the aggressor (defendant) from harassing or harming the victim (plaintiff). But what if the defendant violates the restraining order and threatens the plaintiff? Do victims in New Jersey have the right to use reasonable force to defend themselves?

The short answer is yes. But numerous aspects of this scenario must be unpacked to fully understand what is permissible and when.

Violations of a Restraining Order

A restraining order is a court order that protects plaintiffs by prohibiting a defendant from contacting or harassing the plaintiff or from coming within a certain distance of the plaintiff.

Restraining orders may also prohibit the defendant from actions such as:

  • Contacting the plaintiff's family or employer or having someone contact the plaintiff on their behalf
  • Going to locations where the defendant knows the plaintiff might be, such as their place of work or school
  • Harassing the plaintiff online
  • Owning or possessing firearms

As with domestic violence, New Jersey takes restraining order violations very seriously. If a defendant violates the terms of a restraining order—or someone accuses them of violating a restraining order—the police will arrest them. The defendant may face contempt charges and possible jail time.

Legal Rights to Self Defense

In New Jersey, self-defense is a legal right that someone can use to protect themselves or others from a violent attack, their home against a criminal trespasser, or their personal property from theft. This holds true in cases of domestic violence where one person has a restraining order against the other.

In section 2C:3-4 of New Jersey's revised statute, to use force in self-protection, the following must be true:

  • The other person was trying to harm you physically
  • You had to take immediate action to prevent the other person from harming you
  • The use of force was reasonable and proportionate to the threat

If the plaintiff or another person wasn't in immediate danger or the plaintiff's use of force was excessive, a court may consider the act of self-defense an assault and criminal charges may follow.

Protecting Yourself When Someone Violates a Restraining Order

Restraining orders are put in place to protect people from harm. When someone violates that order and threatens another person, the victim may have grounds to defend themselves or others they believe are in danger.

If you or a loved one is involved in matters of Family Law in New Jersey, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Family Law team at the Lento Law Firm today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings! He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and protects their interests.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact a Family Law Attorney Today!

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.