What Happens if You Violate a Restraining Order in New Jersey?

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Restraining orders are important documents that aim to protect victims of violence, stalking, and harassment. A victim of abuse can file a petition for a restraining order to prevent further violence and distress. It can give them a sense of relief both emotionally and physically, and deter the abuser from contacting them or engaging in further violence. However, they are not foolproof. A person may decide to violate their restraining order for various reasons. This act can lead to severe consequences. If you are facing charges involving the violation of a restraining order work with a skilled Bergen County, New Jersey criminal defense lawyer.

What Are the Terms of a Restraining Order?

The terms and conditions of a restraining order will vary depending on where the order is filed, the judge’s determination, and the specific circumstances of the case. The following may be included in a restraining order.

  • The defendant may not attempt to contact the victim in any way
  • The defendant must maintain a distance between themselves and the victim, often anywhere from 50 to 100 yards
  • The victim may be awarded temporary custody of any children shared
  • The defendant may be required to contribute financially to the victim
  • The victim may be awarded sole possession of a shared home and the defendant may be asked to move out

What Types of Restraining Orders Exist in NJ?

There are generally two types of restraining orders that are issued and recognized by New Jersey state law. Which kind you are given will depend on your circumstances and the details of your situation.

Temporary restraining order: A temporary restraining order or TRO can be issued almost immediately after it is requested. If a judge evaluates the situation and determines that a restraining order is necessary to protect the victim from harm they can grant one. A victim can request a TRO in person or with sworn testimony from themselves or a representative. Any TRO granted is valid only until the hearing for a permanent or final restraining order.

Final restraining order: Final restraining orders can be granted after a hearing where both parties are present. Both the victim and defendant must present their case using witness testimony, evidence, and more. If one is granted, a final restraining order can last for an indefinite amount of time.

What Are the Penalties if You Violate a Restraining Order?

When a person violates their restraining order they are opening themselves up to a slew of consequences. Depending on the specific situation they can face various penalties. Violating any terms of the protective order can cause someone to face contempt charges for going against a court order. If they committed a further assault their charges could be even more dire. The following are general charges for violating a restraining order.

  • First offense: Fines of $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail
  • Second offense: Fines and a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail
  • Subsequent offenses: Potentially a fourth-degree indictment, fines of $10,000, and up to 18 months in jail
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