Violation of a Restraining Order in Gloucester County
In Gloucester County and throughout New Jersey, the law protects victims of domestic violence through court orders commonly called restraining orders. These orders restrict one person from contacting another person or coming within a certain distance of that person.
Restraining orders can be final, meaning they have no end date, or temporary, meaning they are in force for a limited period of time.
A municipal judge or the Family Division of Gloucester County Superior Court issues these court orders, but they enter the realm of criminal law when the person ordered to stay away from the other party does not do so. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9, violation of a restraining order is a criminal offense punishable by various penalties ranging from 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 Gloucester County municipalities such as Glassboro, Deptford Township, Franklin Township, Washington Township, Woolwich Township, Swedesboro, Harrison Township, Monroe Township, and Mantua Township.
If you or a loved one has been accused of violating a final or temporary restraining order, please call our Woodbury office today for a free consultation.
Obtaining Restraining Orders in Gloucester County
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, first enacted in 1982 and revised in 1991, enabled various people involved in a relationship to request restraining orders. They include people ages 18 or older who have suffered acts of domestic violence from:
- A person whom the victim has dated
- A current or former household member
- A current or former spouse
- 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 Gloucester County or elsewhere in New Jersey.
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act also covers emancipated minors. Emancipated minors are people younger than 18 who have been married, entered the military, are pregnant, have a child, or have been declared emancipated by an administrative agency or a court.
A plaintiff can file a domestic violence complaint with the Domestic Violence Unit of the Gloucester County Superior Court Family Division, or at a local law enforcement agency, which refers the complaint to a municipal court judge.
Whether final or temporary, a restraining order specifies that the defendant will have no contact with the plaintiff, as well as that person’s relatives and other relevant parties (such as friends or roommates). A restraining order also prohibits a person from visiting the victim’s workplace or home.
Other stipulations of a restraining order may include:
- Mandating counseling or therapy
- Granting the plaintiff temporary custody of any minors
- Granting the plaintiff temporary possession of personal property, such as a car
- Banning the defendant from having firearms or other weapons
- Prohibiting future violence
- Requiring the defendant’s financial support, such as paying rent or mortgage payments
If the defendant and plaintiff live at the same address while a restraining order is in effect, the defendant must find other accommodations. (It doesn’t matter who pays the rent or mortgage, or who owns the residence.)
The primary difference between final and temporary restraining orders are that final restraining orders remain in place while temporary restraining orders are granted for a specified amount of time. Neither type of order automatically expires if the plaintiff and the defendant reconcile or meet willingly. These orders last until a judge dissolves them.
Final restraining orders also have requirements such as fingerprinting and photographing the defendant for a law enforcement database. These types of orders also ban defendants from legally owning firearms in New Jersey.
Violations of Restraining Orders in Gloucester County
Determining whether a person has violated a restraining order hinges on whether the person was served with a copy of the order or otherwise notified about its existence. If a court cannot confirm that the defendant knew about the order, the defendant often cannot be held liable for a violation. However, when authorities can show that the defendant reasonably knew about a restraining order but claimed ignorance, this lack of notification is no defense.
Violating a restraining order can be as simple as making a phone call or sending a text message to the person for whom contact is forbidden. This violation is at minimum a charge of criminal contempt, resulting in a mandatory arrest.
If convicted of a second or subsequent nonindictable domestic violence contempt offense, a person must serve a minimum of 30 days in the Gloucester County Jail.
If a defendant violates the order through another act of domestic violence, such as simple assault, burglary, harassment, aggravated assault, stalking, or making terroristic threats, he or she faces not only the penalty for those charges, but also additional punishment for violating the restraining order.
Violation of a final restraining order is a fourth-degree offense. This is punishable by up to 18 months in a New Jersey state prison.
Gloucester County Defense Attorney for Contempt of a Restraining Order
Because of the serious penalties involved, anyone arrested for or charged with violating a temporary restraining order or a final restraining order should meet with an experienced Gloucester County criminal defense attorney as early as possible.
The legal team at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall has a lengthy track record of a combined 100 years of experience defending clients on various criminal offenses, including restraining order violations. Our tenacious but compassionate attorneys are well-known throughout Gloucester County because many of our staff have worked as public defenders and local prosecutors.
If you or a relative have questions about the legal system, whether a restraining order was properly served or entered, or what penalties you may be facing, we’re glad to assist you. Your initial consultation is always free and comes with no obligations. Please visit our Woodbury office at 38 Cooper St., Suite 204, contact us online, or call us now.