In a published opinion article on NJ.com, Eric Marcy, Esq., Chairman of the firm’s Criminal and Administrative Law practices, discusses why not all restraining orders should be permanent. Pointing out the problems that need to be fixed in the 40-year-old N.J. Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, Eric makes a case for instilling an expiration period between one and five years for final restraining orders.
Eric and many lawyers handling domestic violence hearings believe a commonsense review of the Act’s application and impact on litigants is overdue. A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) aims to keep a safe distance between the alleged victim and the accused party, with the threat of arrest and criminal charges in case of a violation. Eric explains that the predicate act of alleged “harassment” has become so broad that most anyone can get a TRO with little or no screening process.
In his article, Eric discusses the restraining order process as it currently stands in New Jersey’s court system. After a TRO is granted, the matter quickly proceeds to a Final Restraining Order hearing, often with inadequate time for discovery, which raises serious due process issues. The entry of a Final Restraining Order (FRO) has severe and life-long consequences; it can destroy an individual’s livelihood, relationship with their children, and housing, and prevent them from traveling out of the country. It is disturbingly common for FROs to be misused and cause unfair leverage in visitation, custody, and criminal matters.
Noting the court’s need to protect the safety of the alleged victim and family by separating the parties for a period, parties are often separated for years or move to other states, eliminating the need for a permanent FRO. New Jersey is an outlier when it comes to this need for change in domestic violence policy, as most states impose FROs for a limited and defined period ranging from one to five years. Eric’s opinion sums up the need for a more just system that responds to the realities of the harsh consequences of restraining orders.
If you need help with a restraining order or another criminal law matter, contact Eric Marcy, Esq. of Lyons & Associates, P.C. Call 908-575-9777 or complete our online form today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Somerville, Morristown, and Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the state.