Domestic violence is a serious matter. Not only can family violence destroy lives and families, but it can also lead to emotional distress, children in crisis, and more. Children who grow up in households with intimate partner violence are more likely to end up in violent relationships or marriages as adults. In New Jersey, the law offers some options to protect partners and children from domestic violence with restraining orders obtained through the criminal and civil court systems. See N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:25-17 - 25-35.
But obtaining a restraining order isn't always as easy as just popping down to the courthouse. Similarly, defending yourself from a restraining order can also be challenging. You'll need a well-qualified restraining order lawyer to have the best chance of obtaining a restraining order or defending yourself against one. You'll want to ensure that you have a New Jersey attorney well versed in restraining order litigation but also a lawyer skilled in the areas of the law involved in all domestic violence matters.
Skills a Lawyer Needs for Restraining Order Matters
Acquiring or defending a restraining order requires a unique set of skills from a New Jersey attorney. You want someone who handles both family law and criminal defense cases in our state. You also need a lawyer who understands what you and your family are facing during this difficult process. The intersection of family and criminal law can be challenging to master, even for experienced attorneys.
- Family Law When you need a restraining order, there are two ways to seek one in New Jersey. You can either apply for a civil restraining order through the Superior Court in the county where you live. Or you may seek a restraining order as part of a criminal action for domestic violence. The restraining order process in New Jersey involves a formal hearing and litigation, whether through the criminal courts or the civil Superior Court. During the hearing, the applicant must establish several elements to obtain the order, including:
- · The parties are in a domestic relationship: The parties must be current or former spouses, roommates, intimate partners, family members, or have children together.
- · There was an act of domestic violence: An act of domestic violence can include one of a long list of criminal charges, including assault, harassment, and stalking.
- · There is an urgent need: The judge must find that the need for the restraining order is urgent to prevent other acts of domestic violence.
- As part of this hearing, your attorney must prove these three elements or show that they don't exist. Your lawyer will present evidence, introduce witnesses, and cross-examine the other party's witnesses as part of this process. While the standard of proof in a restraining order hearing is lower than in a criminal trial, it can still be challenging to prove or defend the elements necessary for a restraining order or domestic violence accusation. Doing this effectively is something lawyers develop over time while handling similar cases. For restraining order litigation, thorough knowledge of and experience in handling domestic violence cases in the past is necessary. Even if you're defending yourself against a restraining order, you need a lawyer experienced in New Jersey family law. A restraining order can affect your parental rights and have additional financial implications, whether in the civil or criminal courts.
- Criminal Law While victims of domestic violence can request restraining orders through the civil courts after alleging domestic violence, they can also file a “Complaint for a Temporary Restraining Order.” A Complaint for a TRO is a complaint alleging the other party committed an underlying criminal offense that is a “predicate act of domestic violence” in New Jersey, qualifying someone for a restraining order. So, for example, an alleged victim of domestic violence can file for a restraining order against someone and then file a criminal complaint alleging assault or another act of domestic violence. If you're defending yourself against a restraining order, you could also end up defending yourself from a criminal domestic violence charge. Having an attorney who can handle both restraining order litigation and criminal defense is essential. If you're seeking a restraining order or want to file a complaint for a restraining order, an attorney well-versed in criminal defense will be helpful as well.
- Family Support If your family is in crisis because of domestic violence, you need support beyond just a law firm. You need an attorney who understands what you're going through. Whether you're seeking a restraining order, or you've been served with a restraining order, this is an emotional process. You'll need to stand up in court and discuss personal matters. In many cases, you'll also be confronting your abuser or your accuser. You may be fighting to ensure your safety and the safety of your children, or you may be fighting to ensure that you continue to see your children. In many cases, this will be one of the most difficult fights of your life. As a result, you need a lawyer who doesn't just see you as another client but one who is willing to fight for you and everything you care about. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent his entire professional career fighting for people like you.
You Need a Skilled Restraining Order Lawyer
Whether you're trying to obtain a restraining order or defending yourself against one, you need an attorney well versed in New Jersey family law and criminal defense. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the skilled team at the Lento Law Firm have been helping New Jersey families obtain and defend against restraining orders for years. With experience in New Jersey criminal defense, family law, and restraining order litigation, find out how they can help you. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to set up a consultation.