If You Believe You Are the Victim of Domestic Violence
If you have suffered from domestic violence, the first step towards securing legal protection under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is filing a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). Your lawyer can help you do this.
A TRO will entirely limit the contact you and the alleged abuser have, and can even limit the places that person can go. For example, if you live with your abuser, you can prevent that person from coming back to your home while the order is in place or after a Final Protection Order is in place.
After a judge or hearing officer has approved the entry of a TRO, it will be served on the alleged abuser. From the moment that the TRO is entered, you are to have no contact with that person and should act as though they have already been served and are aware of the TRO. That means, if they contact you, you should inform the police department and you should also tell your attorney.
You must remember, however, that this is a temporary order and is subject to review by a Judge. There will be a hearing, which is usually scheduled within 10 days of the entry of the TRO. Your lawyer can advocate for you at the hearing and help convince the judge that you are in need of permanent protection. If the judge believes you, he or she will issue a Final Restraining Order.
If You Are Accused of Domestic Violence
If someone accused you of committing an act of domestic violence, take the accusations seriously. Restraining orders are civil matters, but they can have a significant effect on pending divorce or child custody proceedings, or your ability to co-parent under a parenting plan. There may be criminal implications if an alleged violation occurs as well. Your firearms or other weapons may also be immediately seized.
If a TRO has been filed against you, do not contact your accuser. Even though the order has not been made final, you are prohibited from contacting that person. That includes texts, emails and even any communication on social media. Violation of a TRO is a crime.
In the state of New Jersey, unlike other states, when a judge finds that the abuser did commit an act of domestic violence, the restraining order can last forever, or until one of the parties files a motion with the court to end or change the order. In New Jersey, the burden of proof to dissolve a Final Restraining Order once entered is particularly difficult to overcome.
A violation of a Final Restraining Order is a criminal offense. If you find yourself as the accused perpetrator of domestic violence or already have a Final Restraining Order entered against you, a prosecutor may/will bring charges against you for your alleged violations.