Information About Restraining Orders in New Jersey
November 5, 2020
Can Anyone Get a Restraining Order in New Jersey?
Not necessarily. Pursuant to the Prevention Against Domestic Violence Act, a “victim” applying for the restraining order must demonstrate that they are have a “domestic relationship” with the defendant and that they are the victim of an “act of domestic violence” from the defendant. The qualify as having a “domestic relationship” with the defendant, the victim must show that they fall under one of three categories listed in N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(d). These categories include:
- Victim is either a present and/or former household member with the defendant. (Spouses, parents, siblings, children, roommates, etc.)
- Victim has a child in common with the defendant.
- Victim currently or previously was in a dating relationship the defendant. (This includes any relationship, regardless of how much time has passed)
Are All Crimes Considered an “Act of Domestic Violence”?
No. Beyond just proving that the victim has a domestic relationship with the defendant, as required under N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(d), the plaintiff (victim) must also show that the defendant committed one or more “acts of domestic violence”. Pursuant to the Prevention Against Domestic Violence Act, the following violations qualify as “acts of domestic violence”:
- Terroristic Threats
- Criminal Restraint
- False Imprisonment
- Sexual Assault
- Criminal Sexual Contact
- Criminal Mischief
- Criminal Trespass
Do I Have to Appear in court for a Restraining Order?
Yes. Failure to appear in court for a Temporary Restraining Order may result in the court taking the steps to make the Temporary Restraining Order a Final Restraining Order. Simply not showing up for your court date will not prevent the court from trying to move forward with the restraining order hearing.
Does a Temporary Restraining Order Mean I have a Criminal Record in New Jersey?
No. Even though Temporary Restraining Orders carry criminal-esque repercussions (as discussed below), they are considered civil in nature and are handled by the Family Division of the local Superior Court. Therefore, if a Final Restraining Order is entered after a hearing, the defendant will not be left with a criminal record.
However, this is assuming that the defendant is not also charged with a criminal offense, in addition to the temporary restraining order. Often times, the initial restraining order is the result of a domestic dispute involving a police response and the issuance of criminal charges. In those instances, the possibility of a criminal record becomes very possible.
Is a Final Restraining Order Permanent?
Unfortunately, New Jersey Final Restraining Orders are permanent, unless a motion to vacate the restraining order is later entered by the Court. This means that if you have a final restraining order entered against you, then you will be subject to the following restrictions for the remainder of your life:
- Removal from any shared residence with the victim
- Possible alteration of your custodial rights to children in common with the victim
- Monetary Damages/Relief to Victim
- Firearm Seizure and Forfeiture
- Psychological Evaluation
- Fingerprinting and registration in DV Database