Restraining Order Violations: Your Most Expensive Communication

NJ Leaving the scene of an accident

Criminal consequences of violating a restraining order

The Family Division in the Superior court handles restraining orders. It is a civil matter.

However, restraining order violations carry criminal consequences.

Think twice before you send that text!

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’ve committed a restraining order violation. The consequences are severe.

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?

Restraining order violations are labeled “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.

In restraining order violation cases, you probably also got arrested for a Disorderly Persons offense.

Disorderly Persons offenses include Harassment, Resisting Arrest, Obstruction of Justice, Eluding, Marijuana Possession, and Simple Assault.

What penalties do I face?

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 a restraining order violation, 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 another criminal charge?

Restraining order violations create a huge opportunity for you to get charged with another offense. The restraining order violation 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 restraining order violation penalties and the penalties for the charge.

Restraining Order Violations: Penalties

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?

In determining whether there have been restraining order violations in your case 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 restraining order violation a minimum charge?

No, restraining order violations are classified as a fourth-degree felony under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9. (we explained this above)

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 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.

So, think about it? Now that you’re familiar with restraining order violations & their consequences, is it worth it?

Is there a statute of limitations for a restraining order violation?

No. 

Restraining order violations can be reported at any time.

How to Expunge Restraining order Violations

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!

  • Get Help With Your Restraining Order Case

Meet with us to discuss your case, we offer FREE consultations.

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How We Can Help

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.

If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.

Our Experience

You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

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How Do Your Free Consultations Work?

There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.

The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.

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When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.

A person extorts if he purposely threatens to:

a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;
c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.

***It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is a “search” standard that applies in criminal law.

When a police officer conducts a warrantless search, and does not have probable cause to justify the search, the courts look to see if the police had
a “reasonable & articulable suspicion” for the search.

A mere “hunch” is not enough.

In other words, a police officer has to provide an acceptable explanation for the search.

United States Constitution

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

NJSA - 2C:43-7.2.
Eligibility for parole;
persons convicted of certain violent crimes

a. A court imposing a sentence of incarceration for a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of this section shall fix a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.


b. The minimum term required by subsection a. of this section shall be fixed as a part of every sentence of incarceration imposed upon every conviction of a crime enumerated in subsection d. of this section, whether the sentence of incarceration is determined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, N.J.S.2C:43-7, N.J.S.2C:11-3 or any other provision of law, and shall be calculated based upon the sentence of incarceration actually imposed. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed or applied to reduce the time that must be served before eligibility for parole by an inmate sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. Solely for the purpose of calculating the minimum term of parole ineligibility pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be deemed to be 75 years.


c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and in addition to any other sentence imposed, a court imposing a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent of the sentence pursuant to this section shall also impose a five-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the first degree, or a three-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the second degree. The term of parole supervision shall commence upon the completion of the sentence of incarceration imposed by the court pursuant to subsection a. of this section unless the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another crime at the time he completes the sentence of incarceration imposed pursuant to subsection a., in which case the term of parole supervision shall commence immediately upon the defendant’s release from incarceration. During the term of parole supervision the defendant shall remain in release status in the community in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the State Parole Board as if on parole and shall be subject to the provisions and conditions

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines

Examples

First-Degree

1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Prison terms start at a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Second-Degree

2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison.
These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.

Third-Degree

3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with a 3rd-degree.

Fourth-Degree

4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. These cases can get “remanded” to a lower court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.