Consequences of Violating a Restraining Order
Criminal consequences of violating a restraining order
The Family Division in the Superior court handles restraining orders. It is a civil matter.
However, a violation of a temporary or final restraining order has criminal consequences.
What is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order is an order issued by the court. It protects a victim of domestic violence. A restraining order prohibits a person from contacting or communicating with another person. If you are issued a restraining order against you, you cannot contact the person who requested the order. If you do, you will face serious consequences.
New Jersey Violation of a Restraining Order Law
New Jersey law, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-30, says that a person is in contempt where he or she violates a temporary or final restraining order. If the police believe that you violated a restraining order, you can be arrested. After you are arrested, there will be a court hearing to determine if you violated the court’s order.
What is contempt?
A violation of a restraining order is called a contempt of the court. That means that the person violating the order did not follow the court’s order. The person, therefore, showed “contempt” for the court.
Contempt proceedings for violations of a restraining order are heard in family court.
When charged with violating a restraining order, you may have been arrested for a Disorderly Persons offense.
What penalties do I face if I am charged with violating a restraining order?
Violation of a restraining order is a felony. Felony charges are also called indictable offenses in New Jersey.
Felonies are graded according to their seriousness. Fourth-degree felonies are the least serious felonies. The most serious felonies are first degree. Murder can be a first-degree felony.
A violation of a final restraining order is a fourth-degree felony under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9. Although it is the lowest degree of felony, it is still very serious. If convicted of contempt of a restraining order, you would face up to 18 months in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine. The penalties for a second or subsequent violation include a jail sentence of at least 30 days. This sentence is mandatory.
Why did I receive a charge of contempt and an additional charge for violating a restraining order?
When a person is charged with violating a restraining order, many times they also are charged with another offense. The charge of violating the restraining order is a contempt charge. The other charge maybe for a misdemeanor offense (also called a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey), or a felony charge.
Felonies include aggravated assault, kidnapping, sexual assault, and other charges.
You may be charged with contempt of court and simple assault, for example.
Or, you may be charged with contempt of court and kidnapping.
So, in either example, you would face the penalties for violating the restraining order, and the penalties for the charge.
What penalties do I face if I am charged with violating a restraining order, and another charge?
A violation of a final restraining order is a fourth-degree felony under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9. This means that you could be jailed for up to 18 months if convicted.
If you are also charged with a misdemeanor, you would also face up to a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
Penalties for a felony charge depend on the degree of the felony.
Read more about Felony Charges: 5 Steps To Start Fighting Back!
What if I did not know I had a restraining order issued against me?
The court must confirm that you knew about the restraining order before deciding if you violated the order.
You must be given a copy of the restraining order issued against you, or you must have known about the order. You have a defense if you did not know about the order, but your lack of knowledge must be reasonable.
Is the first violation of a restraining order for harassment in New Jersey a minimum charge?
No. The violation of a restraining order is a fourth degree felony under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9.
If you violate a restraining order, you are subject to the penalties for violating a fourth degree felony. If you are also charged with harassment, you will face the penalties for harassment.
Harassment is a petty disorderly persons offense (lowest level misdemeanor). The penalties for harassment are up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Therefore, you will face up to 18 months in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine for the violation of the restraining order. You will also face up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for the harassment charge.
Is there a statute of limitations on reporting a violation of a final restraining order New Jersey?
No. A person who violates a restraining order can be reported at any time.
How to get an expungement violation of a restraining order in New Jersey?
If a temporary restraining order is dismissed, then the record can be expunged.
If a final restraining order is granted by the court, it cannot be expunged. However, there are two options available.
The first option is that you have 45 days to appeal the court’s decision.
The second option is that you can file a motion to vacate the final restraining order. You must prove that there has been a change in circumstances over time, and that the permanent restraining order is no longer necessary.
Read more about Expungements!