Being accused of domestic violence can wreck relationships and have chilling effects on children that may last years. Defendants in New Jersey can have their lives turned upside down during a criminal investigation that could take weeks or months to be resolved.

If a judge issues a temporary restraining order (TRO), that person is prevented from contacting the alleged victim or going to their house. It also empowers police to arrest a defendant who violates the order. TROs are just that – temporary. A hearing in domestic relations court must be scheduled within 10 days of a defendant being served notice.

Facing criminal charges is serious. A TRO can also have major ramifications for someone unable to see their children or live in a residence for which they might be paying a mortgage or rent. A Final Restraining Order (FRO) can be issued barring future contact if the judge determines domestic violence was committed.

What do judges consider?

Domestic violence is broadly defined in New Jersey as an incident involving at least one of 14 acts. They range from false imprisonment, kidnapping and assault to terroristic threats, burglary and stalking. Judges considering a TRO generally weigh these eight factors and whether the defendant has a history of:

  1. Violence or making threats
  2. Assault or using physical force
  3. A TRO or FRO entered against them
  4. Violating restraining orders
  5. Arrests or convictions for domestic violence, stalking, disorderly persons or other violent crimes
  6. Arrests or convictions for cruelty to animals
  7. Drug or alcohol abuse
  8. Acquiring a firearm, ammunition or another deadly weapon

Violating a restraining order could result in criminal contempt charges, which carry penalties of up to 18 months in jail and $25,000 in fines. If a prosecutor also decides to file domestic violence charges, that case will be heard in a criminal court, where a defendant can ask for bail and challenge evidence collection.

Stakes are too high to go it alone

Judges have the discretion to dissolve a TRO if the victim consents and no longer fears future violence. Other crucial factors involve the relationship between the partners, the defendant’s ability to stay out of trouble, and whether they are complying with court orders such as counseling.

Whether you are seeking a restraining order or defending yourself against one, the stakes are high and there are no easy solutions. An attorney experienced with domestic violence laws and procedures could help build an aggressive defense or bargain with prosecutors to find the best possible outcome for your case. Schedule a free consultation with Anthony Palumbo by emailing the firm or calling 908-643-6801.