Passaic County NJ Restraining Order Attorneys
Domestic Violence Lawyers in Clifton, New Jersey
When an alleged act of domestic violence occurs, there are two separate legal proceedings that may result, one of which is associated with the issuance of a temporary restraining order, while the other arises out of a criminal charge filed against the defendant. The restraining order and the criminal charge typically involve the same incident; however, these cases are adjudicated in two separate venues and the repercussions of each are entirely different. A temporary restraining order is intended to protect a victim of domestic violence from further abuse, while the purpose of a criminal charge is to punish the offender for a crime that already occurred. If you are involved in a domestic violence proceeding as the accused, the outcome can be life-altering, whether it exposes you to criminal penalties, a restraining order, or both. On the other hand, if you are the victim, a restraining order can provide legal protection against further instances of harassment, assault, sexual abuse, stalking, or another form of domestic violence.
If you are involved in any legal issue involving a restraining order, an experienced domestic violence attorney can provide much-needed counsel and aggressive advocacy. The attorneys at The Montanari Law Group, have extensive experience representing parties on both sides of the restraining order process throughout Passaic County, including in Wayne, Clifton, Totowa, and Little Falls. Whether you are the victim or the accused, it is essential to build a strong case and to effectively present these arguments during restraining order proceedings. We will meet one on one with you to gather information about your situation, construct a compelling case, and vigorously advocate on your behalf to achieve your desired outcome. With a background in both criminal and family law, our legal specialists can handle all aspects of your domestic violence case, from criminal defense to the final restraining order hearing. For a free initial consultation, contact our Little Falls offices today at 973-233-4396 or toll-free at 888-877-7985.
Temporary Restraining Orders in New Jersey
A temporary restraining order may arise out of a single incident (i.e. simple assault) or a pattern of behavior (i.e. stalking). The victim may file for a restraining order at their local police department, or if police are called to the scene to respond to a domestic violence incident, the victim or the law enforcement officers may file for a restraining order. Under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, a judge can issue a temporary restraining order if and when he or she finds the following elements:
- There is standing under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act: this means that the plaintiff and defendant meet the relationship criteria for domestic violence, including if they are married, were married, are dating, were dating, live together, previously lived together, share a child, or are expecting a child together
- An act of domestic violence occurred: this means that one of the predicate acts of domestic violence took place, including assault, terroristic threats, harassment, stalking, criminal restraint, or sexual assault
- A restraining order is necessary to prevent further domestic violence: this means that a temporary restraining order will be put in place to prevent the defendant from having any contact with the alleged victim until a final restraining order hearing can be held.
Final Restraining Orders in New Jersey
A temporary restraining order is just that: temporary. Within 10 days of its issuance, the court must hold a restraining order hearing, after which a judge will decide whether or not to implement a final restraining order. This hearing is a civil court proceeding, held in the Family Division of the County Superior Court. At this hearing, both parties testify, witnesses may be called upon to corroborate statements made by either side or to establish a pattern of behavior, the evidence is presented, exhibits may be entered, and finally, the judge decides whether or not to grant a final restraining order. The judge can implement a final restraining order if and when he or she finds the following elements:
- A predicate act of domestic violence occurred: the judge must find there is sufficient evidence to indicate that an act domestic violence occurred. Evidence to support such a finding may include harassing text messages, phone calls, or emails; medical records that show injuries consistent with the victim’s account of the events; or testimony of witnesses at the scene who observed the act as it occurred.
- A prior history of domestic violence between the parties: in order to issue a final restraining order, the judge must find that this incident is not the first involving domestic violence between the parties. In severe cases, one act of domestic violence may give rise to a restraining order but generally, a first incident will result in criminal charges and not a final restraining order.
- The victim is in reasonable fear for their safety, and a restraining order is necessary to ensure their safety: the judge must agree that the plaintiff in the case may be placed in harm’s way without the enforcement of a restraining order.
The Results of a Restraining Order in New Jersey
If a final restraining order is issued, the defendant will be barred from having any contact with the victim. The defendant may also be restricted from traveling to certain locations, including the victim’s home and place of work. The restraining order may also include protected persons, such as the victim’s loved ones, with whom the defendant is also barred from contacting in any way. One of the most severe consequences related to a restraining order can involve child custody if the parties share children. In fact, a restraining order can provide grounds for a significant change in the previous child custody and visitation arrangement.
If the defendant violates the provisions of the final restraining order in the future, he or she may be subject to additional criminal charges for contempt. In New Jersey, contempt in the form of a restraining order violation is a fourth-degree felony, punishable by a sentence to serve up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison.
Contact our Totowa NJ Restraining Order Lawyers for a Free Consultation
To speak with one of our highly experienced Passaic County restraining order attorneys, contact us today at 973-233-4396 or toll-free at 888-877-7985 for a free initial consultation. We also provide flexible appointment options at our centrally-located offices in Little Falls, New Jersey.