In New Jersey, if a person has abused you or put you in fear of abuse for any reason, and you are related or have a close relationship with that person, you may seek a restraining order to prevent further abuse. Under New Jersey state law there are two types of restraining orders: temporary restraining orders (TRO) and final restraining orders (FRO). If you obtain either of these orders against an individual, that individual, by law, is prevented from contacting you and even from having others contact you as well.
Conversely, if you are the alleged abuser whom the order is served upon, you are prevented from contacting the victim whether directly or indirectly through someone else. If you violate any portion of the TRO or FRO, that violation most likely will constitute the offense of “contempt” under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9 (b), which states as follows:
- Except as provided below, a person is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree if that person purposely or knowingly violates any provision in an order entered under the provisions of the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991,” P.L.1991, c. 261 (C.2C:25-17 et al.) or an order entered under the provisions of a substantially similar statute under the laws of another state or the United States when the conduct which constitutes the violation could also constitute a crime or a disorderly persons offense.
A hearing on the violation or contempt charge usually amounts to a “disorderly person offense” and is heard by the Family Part of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court; however, if the violation is more severe, such as an assault, for example, then the contempt charge will be considered a fourth degree offense, and the matter will be heard in the Criminal Part, Law Division of the Superior Court.
The standard of proof on a contempt charge is “beyond a reasonable doubt”. The State must also prove that you “knowingly and purposefully” intended to violate the restraining order. There are enhanced penalties for a second domestic violence contempt offense. A person found guilty of a second charge must serve a mandatory, 30-day jail term.
Contact an Experienced New Jersey Domestic Violence Lawyer at Lyons & Associates
A violation of a TRO or FRO is a serious offense and should not be taken lightly. If you or someone you know has questions about the issuance or compliance with a restraining order, contact one of the skilled attorneys at Lyons & Associates at 908-575-9777. You can also fill out our online intake form.
Written by: William P. Lemega, Esq.