Served with a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)?
If you are served with a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) contact an ocean county criminal defense lawyer and do not make any statements to the police. You will have to appear in court within 10 days of the issuance of the temporary restraining order. It is imperative that you contact an attorney so that he/she may adjourn the hearing or work to get you prepared for the hearing. Our attorneys have experience handling these hearing and can help you fight the allegations against you.

The hearing is just like a trial. Evidence and testimony will be presented to the Judge by both the victim (plaintiff) and the accused abuser (defendant). The Final Restraining Order is your first and maybe only chance to tell your version of the facts and be heard by the Judge. It will be your opportunity with the assistance of your lawyer to challenge the allegations of the alleged victim. The allegations against you may simply not be true or be presented in a way that is misleading.

It is your right to be represented by a lawyer at the Final Restraining Order Hearing, so Lawyer up! You will have the opportunity to present witnesses or any other evidence at your hearing to determine if a final restraining order should be issued. At this hearing, your criminal defense lawyer can cross-examine any witnesses the plaintiff presents as well as the plaintiff. Should the Final Restraining Order be granted by the Judge one of our criminal defense lawyers can offer mitigating circumstances or other arguments that can eliminate any burdensome conditions contained in the TRO or even have the protective order dismissed.

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What type of offenses are considered domestic violence?

There are predicate offenses which fall under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35.They are listed in N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19, including, among others:

  • Homicide
  • Assault offenses
  • Terroristic threats
  • Kidnapping
  • Criminal restraint
  • False imprisonment
  • Lewdness
  • Burglary
  • Trespass
  • Harassment
  • Stalking

Who is considered a Victim?

N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19 (d) explains that any person over 18 or an emancipated minor that is subject to domestic violence by spouse or former spouse or a person that is a present or formerly living with the victim, or who has a child in common or anticipates a child if pregnant and those in a dating relationship can be considered a victim of domestic violence.

A Final Restraining Order (FRO) will only be issued after a trial is heard. The Judge will hear from both the victim (plaintiff) and accused (defendant). A Final Restraining Order (FRO) trial is usually scheduled within 7-10 days of the TRO being granted. During the FRO trial, the Plaintiff has to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. For an FRO to be granted the Plaintiff must prove that they qualify as a victim under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Act, that the Defendant committed an act of Domestic Violence, and that the FRO is necessary to protect the life, health or well being of the victim. If the FRO is granted by the Judge the FRO in most cases will continue the conditions contained in the TRO and also add additional conditions including: The defendant will be subjected to fingerprinting, N.J.S.A. 53:1-15 and entered into a domestic violence registry. (The Administrative Office of the Courts maintains a central registry of all persons who have had domestic violence restraining orders entered against them, N.J.S.A. 2C: 25-34). If a Final Restraining Order is entered the defendant will not be able to possess a firearm, or a firearms purchaser’s identification card nor will the defendant be able to apply for a firearms purchaser’s identification card in the future. In most cases the defendant will be prohibited from returning to the marital or shared residence if it is also the residence of the alleged victim. The defendant’s ability to visit any children in common will be severely curtailed. The alleged victim (plaintiff) has the right to retain a lawyer for the Final Restraining Order and very often appears for the Final Restraining Order with a lawyer.
If you violate the TRO or final restraining order you can be charged with either a disorderly persons offense or a crime of the fourth degree. Disorderly persons violations are heard in family court while crimes of the fourth degree are heard in criminal court. A fourth degree offense occurs when the violation of the restraining order involves a disorderly persons offense or crime. Any violation of the no contact, no further acts of domestic violence and other provisions of Part 1 of the protective order is considered contempt. The standard of proof is the one used in criminal proceedings, or proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant violated some condition of the TRO or final order. The penalty for violating a TRO or final order for the second or subsequent time is a mandatory 30-day jail time and can be up to six months in jail. Any violation of a TRO that is considered a fourth degree crime carries a possible 18-month prison sentence, although this is discretionary. However, if the contempt involved a separate criminal offense, then you may be subject to those penalties as well.
A restraining order is a civil order issued by a judge that provides protection for the victim (plaintiff) and his/her family from harm by a spouse or former spouse, a present or former household member, a person you have a child in common with or expect to have a child in common with (if you are currently pregnant), or a person you’ve had a dating relationship with who accused of domestic violence. The courts are always open to hear a victim’s complaints and issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). In fact victims of domestic violence are entitled to the aid of the court no matter the day or hour it is part of the Judges job to hear your complaint not matter what time! N.J.S.A. 2C:25-18: Provides for access to emergent and long term relief to protect victims of domestic violence and encourages the broad application of the statute in the civil and criminal courts of the State.
A Municipal or Superior Court Judge will issue the TRO. The Municipal Court is the “overtime court” for the Superior Court for domestic violence matters. TROs applied for after 3:30 PM and up until the morning when the Superior Court reopens are heard by a Municipal Court Judge. In fact most TRO’s are issued Friday and Saturdays are because often DVs are often alcohol fueled.
In situations where the officers respond and find evidence of injury the law requires that the officers arrest the offending party.

 

The Judge hearing the matter will swear the witness which many times will happen by phone. If the victim is incapable to give testimony due to reasons of injury the police officers involved may supply the testimony. State v. Cassidy, 179 N.J. 150, 159-60, 843 A.2d 1132 (2004). What the Judge will do is get the facts from the local/State police, talk to the victim, seek info regarding the parties to see if their relationship meets the requirements of the Domestic Violence Act and seek info regarding the statutory predicate acts listed above.

Just because there may be a dismissal of the TRO doesn’t necessarily mean that the charges in Municipal Court will be dropped, the Municipal Prosecutor can still go forward with the disorderly persons offenses.

Any changes to bail are made by the Judge that set the bail in a Domestic Violence matter or another Judge that conferred with the Judge that set the bail. The Superior Court Judges are required to confer with the Municipal Court judge that set the bail before making any changes.

If you are served with a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) contact an Ocean County Criminal Defense lawyer. Our attorneys have experience handling these hearings and can help you fight the allegations against you.