Violation of a Restraining Order in Passaic County
This information is provided to assist you in understanding the law associated with restraining order violations in Passaic County and elsewhere in New Jersey.
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Passaic County Criminal Defense Attorneys
New Jersey law shield victims of domestic violence through protective orders, commonly called restraining orders. These orders restrict one person from contacting or coming within a certain distance of another person. They can be temporary, meaning for a limited period of time, or final, meaning they have no end date.
Although these court orders are typically issued by a municipal judge or through the Family Division of Passaic County Superior Court, they enter the realm of criminal law when the person ordered to stay away from the other party does not do so. Violation of a restraining order is a criminal offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9, which provides for various penalties ranging from a mandatory arrest to up to 18 months in prison.
The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have assisted people accused of violating restraining orders in Passaic County communities such as Clifton, Bloomingdale, Paterson, Hawthorne, Passaic, Little Falls, Wayne, West Milford, and Totowa. If you or a loved one has been accused of violating a temporary or final restraining order, call our Wayne office today for a free consultation.
Obtaining Restraining Orders in Passaic County
Under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, which was first enacted in 1982 and revised in 1991, various people involved in a relationship can request protective orders. These include people who are age 18 or older and who have suffered acts of domestic violence from:
- A current or former spouse
- A person whom the victim has dated
- A current or former household member
- A person with whom the victim has a child, or with whom a pregnant victim is expecting to have a child
Gender is not a factor when determining domestic violence cases in Passaic County or elsewhere in New Jersey.
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act also protects emancipated minors – people younger than 18 who have entered the military, been married, have a child, are pregnant, or have been declared emancipated by an administrative agency or a court.
A plaintiff can file a domestic violence complaint at a local law enforcement agency, which then refers the complaint to a municipal court judge, or with the Domestic Violence Unit of the Passaic County Superior Court Family Division.
Whether temporary or final, a restraining order typically specifies that the defendant is to have no contact with the plaintiff, as well as that person’s family and other relevant parties, such as roommates or friends. A restraining order also prohibits a person from visiting the victim’s home or workplace.
Other stipulations of a restraining order may include:
- Prohibiting future violence
- Granting temporary custody of any minors
- Mandating counseling or therapy
- Requiring the defendant’s financial support, such as paying rent or mortgage payments
- Granting the plaintiff temporary possession of personal property, such as a car
- Banning the defendant from having firearms or other weapons
If the defendant and plaintiff live at the same address, the restraining order will require the defendant to find other accommodations while the order is in effect. It doesn’t matter who owns the residence or pays the rent or mortgage.
The primary difference between temporary and final restraining orders are that temporary restraining orders are granted for a specified amount of time, while final restraining orders remain in place indefinitely. Neither of these orders automatically expires if the plaintiff and the defendant willingly meet or if they reconcile. These orders last until a judge dissolves them.
However, final restraining orders have additional requirements, such as photographing and fingerprinting the defendant for a law enforcement database. Under a final restraining order, a defendant also is prohibited from legally owning a firearm in New Jersey.
Violations of Restraining Orders in Passaic County
To determine whether a person has violated a restraining order, a court must confirm that the defendant knew about the order. If the defendant was not served with a copy of the legal order or otherwise notified about its existence, he or she often cannot be held liable for a violation. However, this lack of notification is no defense when authorities can show that the defendant reasonably knew about a restraining order but claimed ignorance.
Violating a restraining order is at minimum a charge of criminal contempt, resulting in a mandatory arrest. A violation can be as simple as a text message or a phone call.
If convicted of a second or subsequent nonindictable domestic violence contempt offense, a person must serve a minimum of 30 days in the Passaic County Jail.
If a defendant violates the order through another act of domestic violence, such as burglary, simple assault, aggravated assault, harassment, stalking, or making terroristic threats, he or she faces not only the penalty for those charges but additional punishment for violating the restraining order.
Violation of a final restraining order is a fourth-degree offense punishable by up to 18 months in a New Jersey state prison.
Passaic County Defense Attorney for Contempt of a Restraining Order
Because of the weighty penalties involved, anyone charged with or arrested for violating a temporary restraining order or a final restraining order should contact a knowledgeable Passaic County criminal defense attorney as early as possible.
The legal team at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall has a combined 100 years of experience defending clients on a wide range of criminal charges, including restraining order violations. Our experienced and compassionate attorneys have a well-known track record throughout Passaic County and New Jersey because many of our staff members have worked both as public defenders and local prosecutors.
If you have questions about the legal system, whether a restraining order was properly entered or served, or what penalties you may be facing, we’re here to assist you. Our initial consultation is always free, with no obligations. Please visit our Wayne office at 73 Mountainview Blvd., contact us online, or call us now.