In New Jersey, there are more than 15 actions, or “predicate acts”, that are grounds for obtaining a restraining order. Perhaps the most common is the entry of a temporary restraining order for harassment. The definition of harassment for purposes of an order of protection in New Jersey is broader than many might believe.
ORDER OF PROTECTION IN NJ: HARASSMENT RESTRAINING ORDER
Specifically, the domestic violence statutes define harassment as making, or causing to be made, a communication anonymously or at an inconvenient hour. It can also be communication in offensively coarse language or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm. Therefore, it can be deemed to be harassment under the statute if a person repeatedly texts or calls another person. It can also be harassment and permit you to obtain a temporary restraining order if a person uses offensive language or calls repeatedly throughout the night. The statute additionally includes that it can be harassment if you have a third party do the harassing for you, such as having someone deliver a threatening message.
To obtain a harassment restraining order, you would need to go to the courthouse or police station and report what the harassing acts were, including all prior history of domestic violence with the individual you are seeking the order of protection against in New Jersey. This may include showing the Court the specific communications that you believe constitute harassment. Whether or not a final restraining order is entered in New Jersey is very fact specific. What might be determined to be harassment in one matter may not be in another. It often comes down to the severity of the predicate act and the prior history of this type of behavior by the perpetrator.
In New Jersey, final restraining orders are permanent. Unlike other states, once a final restraining order is granted, the victim does not have to return to Court to show that the person remains a threat to him or her. Rather, the order of protection in New Jersey continues until the victim dismisses it. In very limited circumstances, a party may file a motion to terminate the restraining order, but this is not common.
ORDER OF PROTECTION IN NJ: VIOLATING A PERMANENT RESTRAINING ORDER
If a permanent restraining order is violated in New Jersey, it is a criminal offense and the person in violation of the agreement will be arrested. The Final Restraining Orders are often very specific, especially in situations where there are children, to define what communication may continue to occur without being in violation of the agreement. In many circumstances it may include a reference to all communications being “non-harassing”, about the children only, and via text message only so that there is a record of the interaction. If the person who the restraining order is against continues to violate the terms by using offensive language, name calling, or otherwise harassing the other party, he or she may be found to be in violation of the FRO. Violating a permanent restraining order results in a mandatory arrest. If a person has violated the restraining order more than once, there is a mandatory thirty (30) day incarceration.
When a restraining order is entered against a person, that person must forfeit all weapons that he or she has ownership of. If a Final Restraining Order is entered, there continue to be restrictions against that person owning a firearm. It does not matter if the predicate act is harassment or physical assault, the implications of a final restraining order remain the same.
Restraining orders are intended to protect the victims of domestic violence and are a serious proceeding. If you believe that you have been a victim of domestic violence and wish to speak to an attorney at DeTorres & DeGeorge about your specific order of protection in New Jersey, call to schedule an appointment today.