When a court issues a temporary restraining order in a domestic violence case, it means that the defendant in the case is barred from contact with the plaintiff. The order may place other restrictions on the defendant, such as barring his or her from visiting places that the plaintiff may frequent, requiring the defendant to surrender firearms, or affecting child custody and visitation orders the defendant is subject to.
If you’ve had a temporary restraining order against you, the court will schedule a hearing to decide whether to issue a permanent order. Therefore, it is important to understand your rights when you have a restraining order against you.
What Is a Restraining Order
A restraining order, sometimes called an order of protection, is a court order that requires a person to stop certain behavior such as contacting, harassing, stalking, or abusing the person who requested the order. Restraining orders are taken out in connection with domestic violence or conflict in family or intimate relationships.
A restraining order can also prohibit other kinds of behavior, such as contacting other family members or persons who did not seek the order (such as the new family of a former spouse or partner), or from going to offices or stores where the person seeking the order frequents.
What Happens When Someone Seeks a Restraining Against You
If someone files a complaint to obtain a restraining order against you, you will receive notice of the complaint and notice of the date when the court will hold a hearing to determine whether or not to issue a restraining order. The court may decide, depending on the circumstances of the case, to issue a temporary restraining order once the complaint is filed or to hold a hearing before issuing a temporary restraining order; the court will also conduct a hearing before deciding to issue a final or permanent restraining order.
You have the right to cross-examine evidence and witnesses at a restraining order hearing and to present evidence and witnesses in your own defense. You also have the right to have an attorney represent you at a hearing, but you are not entitled to have an attorney appointed for you without charge.
What to Do If Someone Obtains a Restraining Order Against You
If the court issues a temporary or final restraining order, you should obey the order to the letter. Violating a restraining order is itself a crime, in addition to any crimes you commit in violating the restraining order.
In preparing for a hearing on a final restraining order, you should immediately retain an attorney to represent you and advocate on your behalf — you may only have a few days between receiving notice of a domestic violence complaint and the scheduled hearing. You should spend this time gathering any evidence relating to the incident alleged in the complaint, such as clothing, objects, photos ,or video. If you have an alibi, you may want to secure phone, computer, or GPS records that support your alibi. Finally, you should also make a list of witnesses who may have information about the alleged incidents, yourself, or your accuser.
What Not to Do If There Is a Restraining Order Against You
Things you should not do when you’ve been served with a restraining order include:
- Destroying evidence that you believe is harmful to your case, as it can make you seem not credible or suspicious, and may even constitute a crime
- Trying to talk to the plaintiff, their family, or any witnesses you expect may testify for the plaintiff, whether in person, through email, or by phone or text
- Disobeying a temporary restraining order
- Trying to get around a restraining order, such as if you have children with the plaintiff, visiting your children at school or at a relative’s house where the plaintiff would likely also be
Contact an Experienced Moorestown Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Restraining Order Charges in New Jersey
Were you arrested or charged with violating a restraining order in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Michele Finizio have successfully represented clients charged with restraining order violations in Evesham Township, Mount Laurel, Willingboro, Pemberton, and throughout New Jersey. Call (609) 230-0374 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 9 E, Main St., Moorestown, NJ 08057.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.