Violation of a Restraining Order – What happens if I violate my restraining order – Penalties for violating a restraining order
New Jersey Contempt Charge Lawyers with offices in Bergen County, Essex County, Morris County NJ
Typically, when a restraining order has been issued, you may not contact the other person. You might also be directed to stay away from any place that the other person frequents, such as their home or work. That means if they work at McDonald’s, you won’t even be able to use the drive-thru window to order a Big Mac for lunch. (Of course, you could always just go to another McDonald’s.)
Restraining orders can be based on a perceived threat of harm. Many times, they are not justified. However, because of the way the system is set up, a person accused of violating a restraining order does not get the benefit of the doubt from prosecutors or judges. A violation of a restraining order can have devastating consequences, resulting in the jail time and fines associated with a fourth degree crime in New Jersey.
Statistically speaking, hiring an attorney might be your only chance of drastically reducing your punishments and potentially getting the case dismissed entirely.
The Tormey Law Firm is a team of aggressive criminal defense attorneys, including an active NJ prosecutor who has handled numerous restraining order violation cases. We have extensive experience defending clients in domestic violence cases, including violation of a restraining order, stalking, and harassment.
Give us a call for a free consultation, and please feel free to continue reading this page for more information on violation of restraining order charges in New Jersey.
Violation of a restraining order is codified in N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9, which states that a law enforcement officer has probable cause to arrest a person who has committed “contempt” of a domestic violence order. In legal terms, violation of a restraining order is considered criminal contempt, and the punishments are especially severe for contempt of a domestic violence order. Criminal contempt in a domestic violence case is usually classified as a fourth degree crime, punishable by up to 18 months in prison.
Even if it is classified as a disorderly persons offense, the charge is punishable by up to six (6) months in jail. That is still WAY too much time to spend locked up behind bars. You’ll miss an entire season of Dancing with the Stars.
If a person commits a second offense, he or she will be subject to additional penalties and will receive a mandatory sentence of 30 days in prison.
Because a person must be officially notified by a court that a restraining order has been issued, one of the best defenses to the charge is that you lacked knowledge of the restraining order in the first place. However, this defense is best articulated by a professional who has experience with domestic violence cases and who is familiar with courtroom procedure in New Jersey.
It is important to note that once the victim makes accusations and reports a violation of a restraining order, the final decision to proceed with the charges belongs to the prosecutor, not the victim. Although most prosecutors consider the victim’s wishes in the decision-making, the prosecutor usually will determine first that the victim is not being coerced or persuaded by the accused. If the prosecutor senses the smallest hint of coercion or otherwise decides that the violation occurred, the state will pursue the charges to uncover the truth of the accusations and prosecute the defendant to the fullest extent of the law.
Call the Tormey Law Firm for a free consultation. A violation of a restraining order charge is best handled by an attorney who is well-versed in these matters.
We are aggressive criminal trial attorneys and we will fight tooth and nail to get the charges against you dismissed. With a current New Jersey prosecutor on staff, we know what arguments the other side is going to make and we can anticipate the other side’s strategies, all of which will help to secure you a win in the courtroom.
Call us today so that we can begin evaluating the specific details of your file and tailor our defense strategy to your particular case.
N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9 – Contempt of a Domestic Violence Order Statute
a. A person is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree if he purposely or knowingly disobeys a judicial order or hinders, obstructs or impedes the effectuation of a judicial order or the exercise of jurisdiction over any person, thing or controversy by a court, administrative body or investigative entity.
b. Except as provided below, a person is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree if that person purposely or knowingly violates any provision in an order entered under the provisions of the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991,” P.L. 1991, c.261 (C. 2C:25-17 et al.) when the conduct which constitutes the violation could also constitute a crime or a disorderly persons offense. In all other cases a person is guilty of a disorderly persons offense if that person knowingly violates an order entered under the provisions of this act. Orders entered pursuant to paragraphs (3), (4), (5), (8) and (9) of subsection b. of section 13 of P.L. 1991, c.261 (C. 2C:25-29) shall be excluded from the provisions of this subsection.
N.J.S.A. 2C:25-30 – Penalties for Violation of a Restraining Order Statute
Except as provided below, a violation by the defendant of an order issued pursuant to this act shall constitute an offense under subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-9 and each order shall so state. All contempt proceedings conducted pursuant to N.J.S.2C:29-9 involving domestic violence orders, other than those constituting indictable offenses, shall be heard by the Family Part of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court. All contempt proceedings brought pursuant to P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-17 et seq.) shall be subject to any rules or guidelines established by the Supreme Court to guarantee the prompt disposition of criminal matters. Additionally, and notwithstanding the term of imprisonment provided in N.J.S.2C:43-8, any person convicted of a second or subsequent nonindictable domestic violence contempt offense shall serve a minimum term of not less than 30 days. Orders entered pursuant to paragraphs (3), (4), (5), (8) and (9) of subsection b. of section 13 of this act shall be excluded from enforcement under subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-9; however, violations of these orders may be enforced in a civil or criminal action initiated by the plaintiff or by the court, on its own motion, pursuant to applicable court rules.