Restraining Orders: How Can They Affect My Future?
Explore the possible effects of having a restraining order against you in New Jersey.
The State of New Jersey provides protection from domestic violence using restraining orders. A restraining order is a document that forces the offending party from contacting the victim by text, email, regular mail, deliveries of flowers or gifts, contact with other members of the household or family, friends, neighbors, or roommates. A restraining order is an official court document and should be treated as such. It is essential to have an attorney to help you whether you are requesting the order or having it placed against you.
How Long do Restraining Orders Last?
There are two types of restraining orders. The first is a TRO, or Temporary Restraining Order obtained when the plaintiff files a complaint. The judge decides if there are grounds to establish a restraining order against the defendant. Not everyone who requests a TRO will get one. Still, the basic requirements are to be 18 years of age or an emancipated minor, the plaintiff has been domestically abused by the person named in the order, and the defendant is someone with whom the plaintiff has a dating relationship, is a spouse or ex-spouse, someone with whom the defendant has a child, a household member or former household member.
The TRO can be granted without the abuser having to be present. It can also be given without the plaintiff’s presence under certain circumstances through the sworn testimony of the plaintiff or that of someone who represents them if the plaintiff is physically or mentally unable to file a complaint in person. An officer notifies the defendant in person, providing the court documents and the scheduled hearing date for the final restraining order. The officer also removes all firearms in the defendant’s possession. If the defendant lives with the plaintiff, they will not be allowed to continue living there, even when the defendant’s name is on the lease or title of the house. The TRO usually lasts until the date of the hearing for a final order.
The Final Restraining Order or FRO is given at a hearing where both sides are present with their respective attorneys to provide evidence that either proves or disproves the circumstances of the order. Obtaining an FRO requires a more detailed explanation of the circumstances. There must be proof of a domestic relationship, proof of an act of domestic violence, and that protection for the plaintiff is urgently required. The burden of proof lies on the plaintiff, who can question witnesses, offer photo or video evidence, and other pertinent information. The defendant has the right to cross-examine the plaintiff’s witnesses and to interview the plaintiff as well. To obtain a FRO, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant committed at least one of the following instances of domestic violence: criminal trespass, criminal coercion, criminal mischief, stalking, assault, kidnapping, harassment, among others. Once obtained, an FRO will never expire.
Can I get Jail Time with a Restraining Order in New Jersey?
The simple answer is: not as long as you follow the restrictions in the order. If you violate the restraining order, you could be charged with criminal contempt. Violating a restraining order with an offense that would otherwise constitute a crime or disorderly persons offense is a crime of the fourth degree. Criminal penalties for these violations include fines not to exceed $10,000 and up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison. Otherwise, violating any of the provisions of a restraining order is classified as a disorderly persons offense, which carries a possible $1,000 fine and 6-month jail sentence. Notably, if you violate the order a second time, there is a mandatory 30-day jail sentence. Why go looking for trouble?
Can I Lose My Job if a Restraining Order is Against Me in New Jersey?
The answer to this question is yes, no, and maybe. If you and the plaintiff are employed at the same place, yes, you could get fired. If you have a job that requires using a firearm, you may have to find someplace else to work. If you need high-security clearance for your job, you are obligated to inform your employer of the situation, and your employment status will be in their hands. If this is a concern for you, contact a domestic violence attorney on our team right away.
Can Employers See a Restraining Order on my Record?
Restraining orders are not included in a general criminal record. However, once a FRO is in place, the offender’s photo, information, and fingerprints will be put in the Domestic Violence Central Registry, a database that can be accessed by the public. If you are looking for a job in law enforcement, the military, or with high government security clearance, your future employer will find out about the order. Also, if you disobey the order and criminal charges are pressed against you, they will go on your criminal record. Similarly, if you have a criminal domestic violence case that accompanies the restraining order, documentation of that occurrence will also be visible on your record on a background check.
Can an FRO be Lifted in NJ?
Nothing is forever but death and taxes. In other words, it is possible to file a motion to remove a final restraining order in New Jersey. However, if there is a petition to lift the order, a judge will consider: the age and health of the defendant, the couple’s good faith, the defendant’s completion of domestic violence counseling or anger management classes, whether the defendant had violated the order in the past, or misuses drugs or alcohol.
Where Can I Get Help if I have been served with Restraining Order Papers in Passaic County?
If you need to file a restraining order or have had one placed against you, now is the time to hire an attorney who can help you. This is a troubling and confusing time, and it is vital to have a lawyer on your side to take you through all of the procedures and documentation required. Domestic violence is a heartbreaking experience for everyone involved, and it would help if you had someone with the knowledge inside and outside the courtroom.
At Montanari Law Group, LLC, we are prepared to take on your domestic violence case today. We have vast experience with clients who are seeking restraining orders as well as those who are seeking to avoid the detrimental impacts that a restraining order can have on your life after being served with one. Our team is ready to make you and your case a priority in Paterson, Haledon, Clifton, Wayne, Ringwood, West Milford, and throughout Passaic County and neighboring places in New Jersey.