If you are wondering how to file a restraining order against someone in Burlington County or elsewhere in New Jersey, there are some things you need to know about the process. At our criminal defense law firm, our restraining order attorneys regularly assist clients involved in domestic violence cases in Evesham Township, Willingboro, Mount Laurel, Mount Holly, and throughout South Jersey. In this article, we outline the specific process for obtaining a restraining order in New Jersey, from filing for the initial Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to the hearing for the Final Restraining Order (FRO). Read on to learn more about how to get a restraining order in NJ and please contact our office anytime for a free consultation about your specific case.
How to File a Restraining Order in New Jersey
In order to get a temporary restraining order in New Jersey, you need to first go to the local court or police department. You have several options for where to file a complaint for a restraining order: you can either go to the local police department, to the local municipal court, or to the county Superior Court. If you are planning to file at a court, you must go during court hours, which are typically Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you need to obtain a restraining order during off-hours, the local police department is often the best option.
In terms of which court or police department you should go to, you can either file in the county where you live, where you are currently staying, where the other party resides, or where the alleged domestic violence incident occurred (NJ Rule 5:7A). If this applies in Burlington County, you will go to the Burlington County Superior Court, Family Division, which is located at 49 Rancocas Road, Mount Holly, New Jersey 08060. For more information about Burlington County Superior Court, you can also visit their website.
When you are filing the initial documents, you will need to provide identification, so make sure to bring your driver’s license or another form of ID. They will also ask you some questions about the person you are seeking the protective order against, such as his or her address, phone number, location of employment, what type of car they drive, the vehicle’s license plate number, if they have a history of substance abuse, and if they are in possession of a firearm. If you don’t know the answers to all of these questions, don’t worry. Simply provide as much information as you can.
Are You a “Victim” under the NJ Prevention of Domestic Violence Act?
In order to file a restraining order in New Jersey, you need to meet one of the criteria for a “victim” under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. This means you and the other party must have been married, dating, living together, or had a child together in the past. It could be a recent break-up or a relationship that ended long ago. The important thing is that you and the person were connected in one of these ways because this makes you eligible for a temporary restraining order under NJ Law.
How is a Temporary Restraining Order Issued?
If you are recognized as a protected person in relation to the party you are seeking the restraining order against, then you file the paperwork applying for a TRO per the process explained above. After that, a judge must decide whether or not to issue a temporary restraining order in your specific case. In order to determine this, you will either appear before a judge and give testimony under oath or if you cannot appear in court, you will be required to provide a signed, sworn statement that will be communicated to a judge over the phone.
What is Included in a TRO in New Jersey?
In your initial application for a restraining order you must explain the grounds that you have for obtaining a TRO. In New Jersey, this means that the defendant (meaning the person you are seeking the restraining order against) must have committed a predicate act of domestic violence. There are numerous offenses that are considered domestic violence, including stalking, harassment, simple assault, and terroristic threats. You can allege more than one if there are several that apply in your case. You must also explain that there is a history of domestic violence in your relationship. In other words, what acts of domestic abuse have occurred in the past between you and the other person? Lastly, the circumstances must demonstrate that a reasonable person would be in fear for his or her safety and need a restraining order to be protected from the person perpetrating the abuse.
What Happens after a Temporary Restraining Order?
If a judge places a temporary restraining order into effect, this serves as an “ex parte” protective order that prohibits the other person from contacting you or coming anywhere near you until the final restraining order hearing. A TRO can include specific places where the defendant cannot go, such as your place of work, as well as other protected persons whom the defendant cannot contact, such as your parents or other loved ones. If you were living together, the person cannot return to your residence without a police escort at a scheduled date and time to retrieve personal belongings. Also, if you have children together, the judge will make a decision as to custody before the FRO hearing. If the person violates any of the provisions contained in the temporary restraining order, they can be arrested and charged with a criminal offense known as contempt. Generally, the hearing for the permanent restraining order must be scheduled within 10 days of the issuance of the TRO.
Need Help with a Restraining Order in Burlington County, New Jersey?
If you need help obtaining a restraining order in Burlington County or elsewhere in Southern New Jersey, our criminal defense law firm is here for you. We assist clients on a regular basis with restraining order matters and we will walk you through every phase of the process, answering your questions and making sure you feel informed and aggressively advocated for. Our South Jersey restraining order lawyers are happy to discuss your situation and provide you with a free consultation.