New Jersey restraining orders against domestic violence

New Jersey law provides for temporary and final domestic violence restraining orders.

Sadly, New Jersey family laws must include provisions for restraining orders to keep domestic abusers away from their victims. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act took effect in late 1991 after the legislature took a close look at the realities of violence between intimate partners, married couples and family members in the state. That law provided the basis of today's New Jersey procedures for getting temporary and permanent restraining orders against perpetrators of domestic violence.

New Jersey domestic violence by the numbers

The most recent state domestic violence numbers on the New Jersey State Police website are for 2011 and include:

  • More than 70,300 domestic violence crimes were reported.
  • Forty of these were homicides and almost half involved assault.
  • Sunday was the day of the week with the highest number of domestic violence incidents.
  • About one-quarter of the offenses happened between 8:00pm and midnight.
  • In about one-third of the instances, kids were involved or present.
  • About three-quarters of the victims were female and one-fifth wives.
  • Alcohol or drugs were involved in about one-quarter of the cases, with most of these involving only alcohol.
  • On average, a domestic violence crime happened in the state about every 7.5 minutes.
  • Almost 3,000 domestic violence arrests involved violating restraining orders.

New Jersey domestic restraining orders

New Jersey defines who is considered a domestic violence victim to include:

  • An adult or emancipated minor abused by a spouse, former spouse, or current or former household member
  • A person of any age abused by someone with whom the victim has a child or who is pregnant with the abuser's child
  • Anyone in or who was in a dating relationship with the abuser

Officially, "domestic violence" includes any of several crimes against the victim:

  • Homicide
  • Assault
  • Terroristic threats
  • Kidnapping
  • Criminal restraint
  • False imprisonment
  • Sexual assault
  • Criminal sexual contact
  • Lewdness
  • Criminal mischief
  • Burglary
  • Criminal trespass
  • Harassment
  • Stalking

Temporary restraining order or TRO

A New Jersey domestic violence victim may ask a judge for an emergency temporary restraining order ex parte, meaning without notice to the perpetrator, also called the defendant. When court is closed, a judge shall be on call to review TRO applications.

The judge shall issue a TRO for "good cause shown" by the victim, meaning the court order is needed to protect the "life, health or well-being" of the victim. The temporary order is broadly for "appropriate relief" to a domestic violence victim and may order the defendant to stay away from the place where domestic violence occurred. The TRO may also forbid the defendant from having guns or other weapons, and may cover possession of minor children and pets. Other appropriate relief can include an order that the defendant stay away from the victim; that the victim be allowed sole possession of the living quarters; or that the defendant pay temporary financial support.

Appropriate law enforcement then serves the TRO on (delivers it to) the defendant abuser.

Final restraining order or FRO

Within 10 days of the initial complaint, a final hearing must be held on the victim's domestic violence allegations. The defendant receives notice of this hearing and both sides can present their evidence. If the victim proves his or her case by a preponderance of evidence, the court may issue a broad final restraining order to protect the victim.

Legal counsel important

Anyone in New Jersey needing a restraining order or needing to oppose one should seek an experienced family lawyer for advice and representation.

Keywords: New Jersey, temporary restraining order, TRO, final restraining order, FRO, domestic violence, domestic abuse, emergency, ex parte, victim