Restraining Order Violation in Hudson County, New Jersey
Domestic violence cases have a tendency of being messy and complicated but some of the toughest domestic violence matters we handle are restraining order hearings. Restraining order proceedings typically involve people who had a prior romantic or imitate relationship, no matter how long or short. When these ex-couples are forced to deal with each other in court proceedings it can bring out the worst in people because tempers are high and passions flare and people that is when people do not always think straight. That is why the majority of restraining order violations occur in a moment of weakness when the defendant decides to call, text, email the plaintiff. The other problem is when a defendant thinks they can outsmart the court and still contact the victim through a third party or in an indirect way. An experienced Hudson County domestic violence attorney can help navigate the court system and avoid further pitfalls.
Does a Family Judge or Criminal Judge Hear My Violation of a Restraining Order Case?
A violation of a restraining order can be prosecuted in either the Family Part or Criminal Part of the Superior Court depending on the alleged circumstances. A Criminal Superior Court Judge will hear the charges for the violation if the contempt charges are a fourth degree (this would mean that the defendant committed another act of domestic violence such Simple Assault against the victim). In contrast, a Family Superior Court Judge will hear the case if the violation is based on mere contact with the victim or a lesser criminal charge such as Harassment. Regardless of whether the case is heard in the family or criminal court, a county prosecutor will be involved in all criminal contempt violation charges. Under 2C:29-9(b), you are guilty of fourth degree criminal contempt if you knowingly disobey a court order and the conduct which constitutes the actual violation of the restraining order would also constitute a separate indictable crime or a disorderly persons offense. On the other hand, the contempt will be a disorderly persons offenses if the act would normally not constitute a crime but for the existence of the restraining order.
What is the Punishment for Violating a Restraining Order?
Typically a first offense for violating a restraining order will not result in jail time unless the judge finds that, based on the facts of the case, the aggravating factors substantially outweigh the mitigating factors. However, that changes drastically once there is a second or subsequent violation of the restraining order. A second violation under the Domestic Violence Act is punishable by 30 days mandatory incarceration for even a non-indictable contempt charge.
What are the Defenses for a Restraining Order Violation?
- It is a valid defense that the defendant did not have actual notice of the restraining order at the time he or she contacted the plaintiff.
- It can be defense if the victim does not show up to court but the prosecutor has the ultimate decision and can still proceed with the prosecution if they can prove the case without the victim’s testimony.
- It is not a defense that the defendant and plaintiff reconciled and now they do not want to proceed, unlike a final restraining order hearing.
Jersey City Lawyer for Violation of Restraining Order
A violation of restraining order can happen during a Final Restraining Order (FRO) or Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). It is important to note that even if the restraining order is baseless it still does not negate any violation. For instance, if you receive a violation during the temporary restraining order because you post on Facebook after being served with the restraining order but then the restraining order is dismissed at the FRO hearing, it does not mean the violation is dismissed as well. If you or your loved one has been charged with a violation of a restraining order it is important to contact an experienced domestic violence attorney. To learn more about how we may be able to help defend these charges, contact our office today for a free consultation.