Temporary Restraining Orders
Temporary Restraining Orders
Working to protect you
Temporary Restraining Orders in New Jersey
In New Jersey, if a person is the victim of domestic violence, they can seek relief through a restraining order.
The first step in seeking protection from domestic violence is to file a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).
Obtaining a TRO does not require a high burden of proof, and can be obtained with basic, but substantive allegations of domestic violence. The intent is to help domestic violence victims acquire the protections they need more easily, but the less stringent requirements for temporary orders may open the door for unsubstantiated allegations against innocent parties.
TROs provide the same restrictions and protections as a Final Restraining Order (FRO). Among other relief, TROs can:
- Prevent the defendant (person accused of abuse) from contacting the victim, their family, or their employers and in some cases, children of the plaintiff and defendant
- Prevent the defendant from coming within a certain distance of the victim, their family, or their employers
- Require the defendant to leave a shared home, even if the home is in their name
Once a Temporary Restraining Order is obtained, the Court schedules a hearing in approximately ten days’ time to determine whether or not the TRO should be expanded into a Final Restraining Order.
The short timeline for preparing a case for or against a final restraining order means that it’s in your best interest to move swiftly after a TRO has been issued.
The Temporary Restraining Order attorneys at Jacobs Berger have extensive experience in providing legal representation for victims seeking protection from domestic violence as well as those who have been falsely accused.
How Do I Get a Temporary Restraining Order?
A victim can file for a Temporary Restraining Order at the County Courthouse where they live, where the accused abuser lives, or where the abuse took place.
If the situation is an emergency or you need immediate protection outside the operating hours of the Court, you can call 9-1-1 to contact your local police department. A police officer will then contact an on-call judge, regardless of the time, to help you secure immediate protection.
In New Jersey, there are sixteen acts that are considered domestic violence when they occur in a family or family-like relationship:
- Terroristic threats
- Criminal restraint
- False imprisonment
- Sexual assault
- Criminal sexual contact
- Criminal mischief
- Criminal trespass
- Criminal coercion
If you’re filing for a Temporary Restraining Order, you’ll need to fill out a form and provide information about yourself, the alleged abuser, the incident that caused you to seek relief and the overall history behind seeking a TRO. This process is completed through an intake individual at the courthouse. The intake individual won’t be able to provide you with legal advice regarding your situation, but they may have an impact on whether or not the TRO is issued.
Once your forms, documentation, and any additional relevant information have been provided, a judge will be presented with your request for a TRO. Should they find your allegations of domestic violence sufficient to warrant a TRO, they’ll issue one, along with a date for the Final Restraining Order hearing.
At Jacobs Berger, our Temporary Restraining Order attorneys take pride in providing our clients with knowledgeable and skilled legal representation. We understand that every situation is different and proceed accordingly.
The Temporary Restraining Order Hearing Process
The court hearing for a Temporary Restraining Order is easier to obtain than a hearing for a Final Restraining Order. However, this doesn’t mean that a TRO hearing should be taken lightly.
In a TRO hearing, the judge considers the plaintiff’s (or victim’s) documentation and any additional relevant information they’ve provided. If the judge finds the allegation sufficient to issue a temporary domestic violence protective order, they’ll then issue one.
If a TRO is issued, it places numerous limitations on the defendant’s (accused) rights for the next ten days or however long the TRO is in place before the Final Restraining Order hearing.
In emergency situations, temporary orders can also be issued after normal court hours by an on-call judge. In these emergency situations, you’ll be asked to provide what information you can to a police officer.
Oftentimes, these forms aren’t adequately completed. You may want to speak to an attorney to amend the form in time before the hearing to make sure the allegations are as thorough as possible.
Although the judge won’t require the same level of evidence for the TRO hearing as they will for an FRO hearing, getting a TRO issued means that you’ll need to show up in court in approximately ten days’ time, prepared to argue a case with evidence, witnesses, cross-examinations, and more.
As such, we strongly recommend seeking legal advice as soon as possible in the process. The Temporary Restraining Order attorneys at Jacobs Berger can work with you to file for a TRO with the court. We also help clients quickly and effectively prepare for their upcoming FRO hearings.
How Long is a Temporary Restraining Order Good For in NJ?
In an effort to err on the side of domestic violence prevention, the courts will grant a TRO with a lower evidentiary requirement than they’ll allow at the FRO hearing. However, this low evidentiary requirement means that people are sometimes wrongly accused of domestic violence.
Due to this highly expedited court process, it’s important that either party involved in a Temporary Restraining Order dispute quickly secure legal representation. Ten days leaves comparatively little time to investigate the case and thoroughly prepare for the Final Restraining Order court hearing.
Temporary Restraining Order extensions
In New Jersey, Final Restraining Orders don’t expire. However, Temporary Restraining Orders typically only last for ten days or until the FRO hearing is scheduled and/or the Court makes a determination as to whether an FRO should be entered.
It’s possible to ask for an extension of the protections under the TRO if you need to reschedule your court date. Likewise, if your FRO hearing date is pushed back for other reasons beyond your control, the protections, unless modified by the Court in the interim, will continue uninterrupted.
It’s vitally important that the victim (plaintiff) show up at the FRO hearing. If you don’t show up, the judge typically won’t move forward with your case, although there may be an exception granted if something unusual caused you to miss your FRO hearing. Instead, your TRO will expire and you’ll need to begin the process anew.
Temporary Restraining Order Violations
A Temporary Restraining Order is a legally binding court order. Violating it is a contempt offense. Penalties and consequences for restraining order violations vary depending on the situation, degree of the violation, and any history of previous violations.
Less severe Temporary Restraining Order violations will typically result in a disorderly persons offense. These are handled in family court. However, more severe violations, such as physical assault, will most likely be considered a criminal offense and are handled by a criminal court.
If you’ve been wrongly accused of domestic violence, do not disregard the conditions of the TRO. Instead, we recommend seeking experienced legal representation immediately in preparation for your FRO hearing.
FROs come with many consequences, including:
- Being placed on a nation-wide watch list for law enforcement agencies
- Potentially having your child custody agreement impacted
- Being prevented from possession or purchase of a firearm
- Having your employment at government agencies affected
- Possibly being liable for financial support to the victim, such as child support or mortgage payments
- Possibly being required to participate in counseling or therapy
The Temporary Restraining Order attorneys at Jacobs Berger have experience in quickly and successfully preparing for an FRO hearing. However, due to the expedited nature of FRO hearings, we always recommend seeking legal representation as soon as possible.
Speak with One of Our NJ Temporary Restraining Order Attorneys
Whether you’re in need of protection from an abuser or have been wrongly accused of domestic violence and need to protect your rights and freedoms in a Final Restraining Order hearing, we are prepared to provide you with knowledgeable, effective, and compassionate legal counsel.