Restraining orders are issued by the court to protect an individual from further abuse and harassment. The most common reason for filing for a restraining order is domestic abuse, where the order can protect the victim. The order prohibits any kind of contact or communication from the abuser to the victim.
If you have received a notification of a restraining order in NJ against you, you may be confused, especially if you are innocent. Nevertheless, you must obey the terms to avoid further legal trouble. You will get the chance to prove your innocence later. It does not look good before the judge when you break the rules, even if you are innocent.
What should be your first step when you become aware of your restraining order?
The first and most important step you should immediately take once you become aware of your restraining order is contacting a lawyer in New Jersey who specializes in criminal law. Even though you have the right to retain an attorney, the court will not appoint one for free. And while you do have the option to represent yourself, it is highly discouraged.
Initially, a temporary restraining order is issued, which lasts for about ten days. Then, after this ten-day period occurs, the permanent restraining order hearing. During the hearing, you have the right to present evidence and arguments supporting your case and use the assistance of an attorney. However, you still are not allowed to be in the proximity of the Petitioner.
Instead of trying to reconcile with the Petitioner and clearing out misconceptions, use the time before the hearing to gather evidence. If you have one or multiple alibi, you should secure evidence such as phone, messages, or GPS records to support your alibi. If there were witnesses, you could make a list of all the possible witnesses who might have information about the situation.
Things you should not do after you receive the restraining order papers
Here are some things you should not do once you receive the restraining order papers. Taking these steps will ruin your chances of winning.
- Destroying or removing evidence that you think will ruin your case.
- Disobeying the terms of the temporary order.
- Attempting to contact the plaintiff.
- Attempting to contact people who might be in support of the plaintiff.
- Trying to get around the temporary order, for example, visiting your children at a school parent-teacher meeting where the other parent is also likely to be present.