FAQS About New Jersey Restraining Orders
Wall New Jersey Restraining Order Attorneys serving Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County and all surrounding NJ areas.
What is a restraining order?
Restraining order proceedings begin with an alleged victim of domestic violence filing a domestic violence complaint in Family Court. Usually these are filed after there has been an arrest made, however, there are times when they are filed without criminal or other proceedings pending. The alleged victim (the plaintiff), files the complaint, and a Judge will rule on whether to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). At this early stage of the proceedings the accused, (the defendant), is not entitled to be present or present evidence.
If the TRO is granted the defendant will then be served with the order by the local police or sheriff. If the allegations involve weapons, the police are authorized to conduct a search of the defendant’s home and to seize any such weapons pending the action.
It is important to note that temporary restraining orders are only temporary. By statute the Family Court is required to hold a fact finding hearing within ten days of the issuance of the TRO to determine if the Court should grant a final restraining order (FRO). It is during this hearing, which is really a mini trial, that the defendant is allowed to defend themselves against the allegations being made by the plaintiff, and during which the defendant or their attorney will be allowed to cross examine the plaintiff.
What are the consequences of having one filed against you?
Restraining orders, whether temporary or final, are civil in nature do not carry the same kind of penalties involved in criminal cases like jail time. However, the consequences of having a restraining order against you can be potentially far worse than jail. If a Final Restraining Order is Ordered against you you will be fingerprinted and placed on a domestic violence registry, and you will be permanently prevented from having any contact with the alleged victims. Among other things, the Judge can also order that you be prevented from returning home, pay child support, pay spousal support, alter or suspended child custody, prevent you from ever legally possessing a firearm, and fine you.
Do you need a lawyer to defend yourself?
The reality is that the stakes are high and it takes real experience and skill to successfully defend a defendant in an FRO hearing. Additionally, in every county in the State of New Jersey, local non-profit organizations offer free attorneys to plaintiffs who qualify. In essence defendants who go it alone often find themselves trying to defend themselves at a trial where their opponent has an attorney and they do not. It is an absolute recipe for disaster.
Bringing the Clarks into the equation on your behalf is one of the best decisions you will ever make. They have an outstanding record defending these types of cases, the vast majority of which get dismissed against their clients.
The reason the attorneys at Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC have such success is because of their extensive criminal trial experience both as defense attorneys and as prosecutors. FRO hearings are almost identical to criminal trials. The Clarks have extensive experience dealing with the sufficiency of the evidence or lack thereof, an extensive knowledge of the case law in this area, superb cross examination skills, and the ability to present a proactive defense which expertly prepares you for the testimony you will likely have to give in your own defense.
The results are that when the hearings are conducted the Plaintiffs, whether they are representing themselves or have attorneys, are most often ill equipped to handle the cross examination by the attorneys at Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC. Other times the Clarks are able to negotiate a dismissal of the action in favor of Civil Restraints. As part of a free consultation, the attorneys at Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC will go over the facts of your case, the legal principles involved, and set out the best possible defense with the singular goal of getting the restraining order dismissed.
What are charges for criminal contempt?
Once either a temporary or final restraining order has been served on a defendant, all of the provisions of the order must be strictly followed. Unfortunately, there are many instances in which the restrictions in a restraining order are violated by a defendant and the police are called. This can happen inadvertently at times, or even under circumstances where the alleged victim of domestic violence initiates and/or encourages contact that violates the order. It can be confusing, but it is important to understand, the order is not the alleged victim’s order, it is the judge’s order.
If the police receive a report of a violation of a restraining order they will go out and affect an arrest of the defendant. The charge will be for criminal contempt contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C: 29-9(b). Under this statute a person is guilty of a fourth degree felony if they violate the restraining order by committing one or more of the fourteen enumerated domestic violence offenses. Contempt is a disorderly person offense if the violation of the order does not constitute a separate criminal offense but violates one of the provisions of the order, for example the defendant simply sent a non-threatening text message that violated the no contact provision of the restraining order.
Irrespective of the level of the offense, all criminal contempt charges are heard in Family Court in the County where the violation is alleged to have transpired. Unlike restraining order proceedings, these proceedings are criminal in nature and are prosecuted by the county prosecutor’s office. The alleged victim will likely be given an opportunity to have input in the way the case is handled, but it is the county prosecutor’s office who will have the final say on how the case will be resolved. That is why in these kinds of cases the defendant needs a high quality criminal defense attorney who knows how the evidence actually stands up, and how to forcefully inject the positive aspects of the defendant into the case, so defendant does not become defined simply by the allegations of domestic violence.
Defending Charges for Criminal Contempt
If you have been charged with criminal contempt of a restraining order in New Jersey it is important to remember that in many cases there are effective defenses to the charges. In the majority of cases handled by the attorneys at Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC, the charges are either reduced or outright dismissed. There are a number of reasons for this.
The Clarks are intimately aware of the common proof issues in criminal contempt cases, knowing when to assert for example deminimus infraction, lack of notice, or lack of identity defenses. Where the proofs are not necessarily in their clients favor, the Clarks have nevertheless been able to secure favorable results by providing additional corroborated character and background information on the client. This is designed to humanize the defendant and move the prosecutor to consider the entire picture in every case, not just the nature of the charges.
There is simply no substitute for the statewide reputation and trial experience of the attorneys at Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC. You can call today for a free consultation, and one of the Clarks will go over your case in detail, and provide you with a solid course of action that will put you on the best possible footing and on the path to getting the best possible resolution in your case.
Get the Legal Help You Need From An Experienced Attorney
Contact the domestic violence attorneys of Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC for a free consultation by completing the form on this page or calling 732-303-7857 today. The Clarks have specialized experience handling these types of cases and offer intelligent and aggressive advocacy that focuses on obtaining the best possible results for their clients.
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