What Are The Consequences Of Violating A Refraining Order In New Jersey?

Courts issue temporary or permanent restraining orders for victims of domestic violence to protect their safety and well-being. A domestic violence attorney can help.

As a general rule, restraining orders prohibit contact between the plaintiff (protected party) and the defendant (accused party), and violating the terms of a restraining order is a criminal offense that can have serious consequences. 

What is an Injunction Against Contact?

The purpose of a restraining order is to protect a person from ongoing domestic violence, which encompasses a wide range of offenses, such as kidnapping, cyberharassment, and lewdness. 

A restraining order mandates that the accused party refrain from certain actions against the party who acquired the order, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Physical proximity to the plaintiff, their family, or their employer
  • Coming to specific locations where the plaintiff, their family, or their employer may be, such as their home, school, or workplace.
  • Contacting the plaintiff, their family, or employer, or having another party contact them on behalf of the defendant.

Restraining Order Categories

There are two types of restraining orders: temporary and permanent.

  • Temporary Interference Orders

A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is issued rapidly, with minimal substantiation requirements, typically lasting approximately ten days. A TRO is meant to provide immediate protection to the victim.

  • Final Restraining Orders

Permanent and having everlasting ramifications, Final Restraining Orders (FROs) are irreversible and permanent. Ten days after the issuance of a TRO, the court will conduct a hearing to determine whether a FRO is necessary.

Sanctions for Violating a Restraining Order

New Jersey’s courts consider restraining orders seriously because they can save a person’s life. Significant consequences can result from violating a restraining order. 

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The Domestic Violence Unit of the Prosecutor’s Office handles contempt proceedings for violation of a FRO. The Family Court is responsible for the case, but it is handled as a form of a criminal proceeding. 

The consequences of allegations of contempt are as follows:

  • First offense: imprisonment for up to 6 months and a $1,000 fine
  • Minimum mandatory prison time of 30 days for a second offense
  • According to N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9, if an additional offense is committed while in violation of a TRO or FRO, depending on the crime (e.g., battery, assault), the defendant may be charged with a fourth-degree felony, face up to 18 months in prison, and be fined up to $10,000. Additional municipal court charges may be pending if the additional crime is a misdemeanor.

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